Montreal’s underground music and arts scenes are multiple and varied. So many pockets of underground (counter)culture exist in this city, it’s impossible to be aware and keep up with all of it. Thankfully, a great culture of collaboration exists here among underground musicians and artists and it’s common to see people blending different sounds and media while working with other artists.

Witching Hour is trying to take that concept and really turn it on its head with full moon or new moon parties that combine music, visual arts, performance and much, much more. Their next event takes place tonight, October 8, and is being promoted as the first Halloween party of 2014, so yes, costumes are welcome.

I’ve been following Witching Hour for a little while now. I’ve even spoken to its founder Michael Noom about the project and have seen the concept evolve over time.

At its core, Witching Hour aims to bring people together for a fun night out in a way that breaks down barriers and banishes inhibitions. But it’s not just fun for the sake of fun (although it can be if that’s what you’re looking for). Rather, Witching Hour hope that attendees will actively participate in the night’s planned activities — which in the past have included yoga, meditation, drawing, body painting and martial arts — and learn something about themselves or the world through discussions of social and geopolitical issues. However, they are very careful to not taint the vibe of their events with personal opinions or schools of thought.

It’s important for Noom to make sure that “it’s the one time people can come together where they’re untouched by educational, corporate and social institutions. Almost everything we do in life is imposed upon us. The concept of magic and wonder is not just for the movies and TV.”

10704103_858039550895339_2463121004087479968_nIf that sounds ambitious, it’s because it is. Noom and others created the group with the idea of bringing the counterculture to the mainstream and welcoming as many opinions and ideas as possible as long as they are presented with compassion and an open mind. They make it a point to team up with others in the artistic community in an effort to draw more and more people into to these events.

Tonight’s event, called Collision of Dimensions, takes place in the very grandiose main hall at the Rialto and has been curated by No Exist (the duo made up of Vincent Ferrari, who performs solo under the moniker Così e Così and Max Posthoorn, who performs as Nothinge) and QuebékisŤanz and features musical performances by Marie Davidson, Così e Così, Pacifique Bleu (YlangYlang and Hazy Montagne Mystique feat. Black Givre), Hobo Cubes, She Devils, Look Vibrant, L’Ħāliġ Orchestre Impérial du QuebékisŤanz and a battle of theremins by Adam O’Callaghan and John Tielli. There will also be short-film screenings, an Easter egg hunt and bobbing for apples as well as visuals by Guillaume Vallée and live painting by artist Chang E Ling, who also helped organize this edition.

I spoke with Ling and Vincent Ferrari (aka Così e Così) of No Exist about their involvement in Witching Hour. They were both invited by Noom to participate as performers in previous editions and have decided to join forces in putting on this event, thus Collision of Dimensions is an appropriate title for this edition.

10458098_810338285665466_5531972389165084846_nOriginally from St. John’s, Chang E Ling moved here and started painting. Previously, he was more into illustration but discovered he loved using watercolours. He told me about his evolution and growth as an artist, about having to get over failures and accept that making bad work is part of being a good artist. Most importantly, he’s very much about encouraging people to re-think what the role of an artist is or what their place is in the cultural fabric of society.

“Definitely I can see an alignment of my values and those of No Exist or Witching Hour or QuebékisŤanz,” Ling said. “All those people are definitely who ‘get’, per se, what I do and they understand the value of trying to do things differently just for the change. I want to be where that is being done. I don’t want to be doing something that’s just some money-making motion, I want to do something that’s about tearing all of that down and trying to get people to reconsider what a show is, what a painter is, everything. Because those are things that I found really helpful to think about when I started painting. It feels good to be a part of something like that.”

Ferrari also hails from elsewhere, having lived in Toronto just before moving here in May. He met Max Posthoorn (aka Nothinge) and they decided to start making intense electronic music together in unconventional or alternative spaces. He was drawn to working with Michael Noom and Witching Hour primarily because of the trust and freedom he is afforded. But he also found that some of his ideas align with the things Noom has put forward.

“I don’t know how much I agree with every single thing he says,” Ferrari said, “but I do know that down at the basis of this, he’s trying to deconstruct the system as it is already and that’s exactly where No Exist is coming from. It’s trying to dismantle these concrete ideas and preconceived notions of how music should be or how we should live. So Max and I are trying to explore this new-found black void, this empty canvas and find new ways of doing things and I believe that’s what Witching Hour is trying to achieve as well. That basic idea is similar so now we’re joining forces and we’ll see what we come up with.”

10393750_811311188901509_9009049144881649170_nThe biggest challenge is really convincing people to take a lot of what they know and what they’re comfortable with and throwing it out the window. It’s not enough to create a space where people can feel free of judgment from others; people need to free themselves from their own self-criticisms and fears.

“If you want to be able to create new things or change the pattern of, or the process of art, the first thing you need to do is accept awkwardness and uncomfortable-ness,” Ferrari said. “To develop, to grow you need to accept these things. That’s what we want to do on the 8th, we hope that everyone gives in to that reality.”

Witching Hour Full Moon Halloween Party: Collision of Dimensions takes place tonight, October 8 at the Rialto Theatre. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., $15.

Photos by Bruno Guérin courtesy of Witching Hour.

In the years before the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish cemeteries were established on the mountain, smaller graveyards were located on what is now Square Victoria, Complex Guy Favreau and Dorchester Square. Eventually in the nineteenth century social and demographic changes meant that these dark and insalubrious spaces needed to be cleaned up: shallow and stacked graves resulted in bones and skulls that kept popping out the of the earth, the ooze of decaying bodies made it difficult to walk the grounds and the smell coupled with new ideas about air-born diseases kept mourners at bay.

From here, we see the literal move from religious graveyards to more secular cemeteries.

As people’s (ie. the upper class) ideas about death and the afterlife changed, new conceptions of “death” spaces changed as well. Respectable men in society desired spaces where their living legacy could find a parallel in their eternal resting places. For the Protestants, the usual suspects (McCord et al. ) decided to take matters into their own hands and established the Mount Royal Cemetery, which opened its gates in 1852.

mt royal cemetary
Mount Royal Cemetery map (source: Respectable Burials by Brian Young)

The move toward “rural” cemeteries began with Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery in 1801 and on this side of the Atlantic with Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery. Frederick Law Olmsted was originally approached to design the Mount Royal Cemetery’s landscape and though he declined, his philosophy, ubiquitous in other North American mid-1800s city planning projects, prevailed.

The cemetery can be seen as a public museum of ideas and events.  The rich sought to enshrine their social position via lasting funeral monuments: the Molson family’s mausoleum towers over the rest; the Allan family’s gated plot holds the remains of two daughters who perished when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by German fire. The unmarked pauper graves and the shocking number of children’s graves during times of epidemic also tell part of the story of Montreal’s past.

mccord museum
(source: McCord Museum)

The choice of words on tombstone inscriptions display prevailing ideas about gender, status and the afterlife. And the landscape itself, the sinewy roads, the hilltop views, the carefully manicured grounds and flora create a suburban oasis where the wealthy could stroll and contemplate. Public places were intimately linked with values: the Mount Royal Cemetery unlike it’s decrepit predecessors, was a morally edifying place and respectable enough for women to enjoy on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Eventually Victorian ideas about death would be shaken by the Great War. If sex was taboo and death romanticized, it’s obvious that today the opposite is true.

And yet, the Mount Royal Cemetery continues to be a beautiful and relaxing space visited by joggers, mourners and the curious. Themed walking tours are organized year round while Repercussion Theatre hold one of its most popular Shakespeare in the Park productions on its grounds.

These days, we can make diamonds out the the dead and we are nonplussed when Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes get shot out of a cannon. Yet there is something to be said about being able to gather our thoughts and visit a specific place where the public and private rituals of death and the beauty of carefully crafted nature live on.

* Featured image by Sarah Ring

Dress up and go see these shows this week!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31

Ed Banger Records 10 Year Anniversary: Justice + Breakbot + Busy P @ Metropolis

French electronic music label Ed Banger is celebrating its 10 years of existence with a massive world tour featuring some of the best artists on the label. Show starts at 10 p.m. and runs until 3 a.m.

Bearmace + Jesus Horse @ TRH Bar

If electro is not your thing, head over to TRH Bar at 3699 St-Laurent for the excellent thrashy punk outfit Bearmace. At $2, this show is the steal of the week!

Witching Hour Events presents Halloween Magic Costume Dance Party @ Cabaret du Mile End

The first-ever Witching Hour Event will feature three short band sets by Nirvana tribute band April Hate, NooM and Death Proof as well as DJ sets and a crafts bazaar.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

POP Montreal Halloween Massacre: Each Other + Renegades of Funk + WZaarD + Filthy Haanz @ Industries Nomad

The event features Each Other (“the shitty Beatles”), RATM cover band Renegades of Funk, WZaarD, and Filthy Haanz, as well as DJs and surprises.

Halloween in the Satosphere: Poirier + Prison Garde + Jake Williams @ S.A.T.

This yearly event makes the most of the Société des arts technologiques’ domed screen. Music courtesy of DJs Poirier, Prison Garde and the UK’s Jake Williams.

Dia de los Muertos @ Crobar

If you want a Halloween party full of thrills and chills that will give you the biggest bang for your buck, it’s Crobar’s Dia de los Muertos event. It features a really long and diverse list of attractions including food, a bake sale, psychic readings, traditional Halloween and Day of the Dead games, a costume contest (prizes include a bottle of real mead and Crystal Skull Vodka), a snake charmer, knife juggling, piñatas, a traditional Day of the Dead altar, a burlesque show, and, believe it or not, more. Activities from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. are free, $10 cover charge after 9. Check the link above for a detailed schedule.

There’s something magical about Halloween. It’s a holiday that’s fast been emerging as many people’s favourite. One at which we eat even more treats than at Easter, party later than New Year’s Eve and drink almost as much liquor as it takes to get through Christmas with our families. But what is it that makes Halloween so special?

Halloween means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To children, of course, it’s a night to take over the neighbourhood on a quest to fill as many pillowcases as their little arms can carry with candy of all ilk. The candy haul, roughly the equivalent to one adult foot lost to diabetes, is the immediately apparent allure of Halloween, but the real magic at work on this quaintly heathen celebration is something else. It’s the freedom they have to be whatever they want to. Whatever their tiny little brains can fathom, without bound or constraint, up to that at which their parents’ limitations have stunted them.

For one fleeting night a year, they can truly be whatever they put their mind to, without suffering the crushing disappointment that will come later in life when they realize that that favourite encouraging maxim of parents and teachers alike is the most widely-spread and rancorous lie perpetuated against children in the Western world.

This reveling in being someone or something else doesn’t ever leave us. Though it does recede for a time into the scornful wasteland of teenagedom, where it is just one of thousands of things heaped in the scorned pile of fuckin’ lame stuff that we’re totally better than. But, as adults whose dreams have been chopped down to a debilitatingly realistic level, this longing to live briefly as someone or something else returns to us. Much in the same way the nightly crying and bed-wetting of our childhood returns with renewed fervor. (Right?)

With make-up and masks and costumes–and, of course, the most effective modifier of all, liquor–we allow ourselves to let loose in a way that we’re not able to any other time, because we aren’t really ourselves. This is what leads to crazy parties where werewolves poop in potted ferns and Draculas wake up in the beds of Pink Power Rangers. Or the bed of one of the other Power Rangers; like I said, it’s a night to be someone else, and maybe Bill from work wouldn’t let his curiosity lead him to Green Ranger’s basement bachelor apartment to blow on his mystical dagger-flute, but perhaps Disco Dracula would.

Yes, it wasn’t Mandy who accidentally backed her car into the fence, it was a cat inexplicably wearing a corset. It wasn’t Tim who puked in the fish tank, it was one of The Avengers. The one whose super power is being a huge asshole, apparently. It wasn’t Jake, John, Sue, Thom, Terra, Miguel, Sophie or Liam who spilled red wine on the carpet, it was one of any number of zombies who didn’t get the memo that zombies have been played-out since like five years ago.

It can be a night of passion and discovery, where Gina and Phil, both too shy and awkward to tell the other how they feel, are finally able to ignite a romance as Wonder Woman and some dwarf or gnome or some shit from The Hobbit or whatever. A romance that blossoms and shines brighter as the jack-o-lanterns grow dimmer, and which goes on for five years longer than it should as they resign themselves to the blandness of each other and try desperately to recapture the spontaneity of that night.

Whether planned for months or thrown together last minute, made by hand or bought from a cheap novelty store, classic and instantly recognizable or so pretentiously esoteric that the whole party has to suffer through the same inanely recondite explanation each time someone new arrives, everyone is essentially dressing for the same reason.

For that little bit of adventure that takes them away, however briefly, from their mundane lives of offices and taxes and AA meetings and lets them act out in mischievous ways that they can only do in a spooky alternate universe where ghosts, witches and goblins exist, and STIs don’t.

 

Photo by hanna_horwarth via Flickr

“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, I’m sure this Mean Girls quote is of the most recognized in our modern culture. When I first watched this movie almost ten years ago at the ripe age of 15, I laughed hysterically and was like “OMG SO TRUE!” and sure enough, the following Halloween, I’d donned my shortest skirt, tightest top, and a pair of improvised cat ears for some lame high school party. Done. I don’t even think my face was made up to look like a cat- but I was a sexy kitty with pretty hair so what did it matter?

kidstowomenLadies, haven’t you ever noticed how strange it is that as children we were encouraged to dress up elaborately for Halloween, yet as soon as we hit puberty, we start taking advantage of the holiday as a time to reveal our tatas and what not? The other day, the well known PolicyMic social justice writer and a dear personal friend of mine, Elizabeth Plank, pointed this out when she uploaded a picture of kids costumes and sexy costumes side by side in a store. The caption of her photo read: “This #halloween shop wants to make sure little girls know exactly what’s expected of them later. #NotBuyingIt”. My favourite feminist makes a point: In the past, I myself along with plenty of other women in my age group (and beyond) went from dressing up in our childhoods as innocent cats, witches, and princesses to sexy cats, sexy cops, sexy nurses… Dorothy becomes sexy Dorothy- thank you for ruining my childhood. A bee becomes.. a sexy bee? How the hell does that work? What’s so sexy about pollination!?

I’m not bashing the desire to look hot on Halloween, ladies and gentlemen. This holiday is a day of release, and in our culture, it is a day where most rules should be forgotten. However, we have the right to look hot every day, not exclusively on a holiday. Really, a woman should be able to dress like a “total slut” if she wants to every single day of her life, and no one should say anything about it because it’s HER choice at the end of the day. But we should take a minute to think that for the most part, women are being encouraged to strip down for Halloween, and this should be a choice, not an expectation… and frankly, the whole lingerie+bunny ears thing is getting kind of boring.

So as long as you’re still procrastinating your costume… why don’t you keep these tips in mind.

My List of Commandments for creating your Halloween costume:

-Thou Shalt Not Buy Into Media Induced Expectations (We’re living in the 21st century, after all.)
See rant above. If you want to look like a “slut”, do it, but know that you don’t HAVE to. Lingerie+animal ears aren’t the only option you have. College freshmen/women under 20, I’m looking at you.

-Thou Shalt Not Dress Offensively: sure, you have the right express your inner self (blah blah blah) on Halloween, but come on. Don’t blackface yourself. Don’t add detail to your eyes to turn Asian. A race is not a costume. And please, for the love of God, and this is coming from an Arab: PLEASE. Don’t dress as a terrorist. It’s not funny, it’s rude. Be considerate of who you might offend.

flapper

-Thou Shalt Not be Wasteful: If you must purchase something for your costume, choose wisely and welcome it into your wardrobe. We all know the drill: you buy one of those shitty packaged Halloween costumes that you wear once, spill beer on, never wash, and never wear again. That’s totally wasteful. You would be surprised with the treasures you could keep from Halloween costumes past! One year I was.. well, something that involved a leather skirt, Doc Martins, a short black wig, and a whip. I’d purchased a pleather corset top from Cruella especially for the occasion. Three years later, I’m pairing that top with high waisted, long billowy skirts and calling it my “Carrie Bradshaw”outfit. It has gone from costume to respected staple.

-Thou shalt raid thine closet: You’ll be surprised with what you can come up with, especially if channeling an iconic figure like John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan.

1374950_658002757552380_1661427143_n-Thou shalt respect the classics: Whatever happened to being a witch, a ghost, a pumpkin, or a ghoul on Halloween!! Did we throw all those costumes away to become nurses and pop stars? I’m personally bringing the witch back this year, and I’m so excited. I haven’t been a witch since I was 8 years old!

-Thou Shalt Own It: Own what you wear, honey. Strut your stuff, and be creative. Halloween is the funniest night of the year, after all.

And the final commandment: Thou Shalt attend the Glam Gam production, Tales from the Crotch on October 31st at 10pm!! I’ll see you all there, and if you’re wearing a costume, it’s 10 bucks admission. If you’re being boring, the price to pay is 15. nyahahahahahahahaha!!

Alright my pretties, have yourselves a wonderful Halloweek, and don’t forget to enter Forget the Box’s costume contest. See the link below for more details!!!!

Halloween Costume Contest: Disguise for Prize 2013

It’s been three years since Glam Gam took to the stage on Halloween, a holiday that is perfectly suited to our special brand of ridiculous burlesque. It was in that show that I made my solo debut as Jizzika Unklean, birthing an alien baby to Ace of Base and devouring it onstage while painted green from head to toe. This year we’re reaching back into the freakiest parts of our twisted souls for Tales from the Crotch, a 24 Hour Halloween Cabaret that will put a smutty spin on the beloved Tales from the Crypt franchise.

Let’s clear one thing up first: it’s not a play that’s 24 hours long. We do like singing, dancing and taking our clothes off, but even we need to sleep sometimes. Rather, it’s a production that is cast, rehearsed and staged, all in 24 short hours. In order to pull off such a feat, we’re seeking vampires, serial killers, demons, witches, mummies…. Oh wait, I mean actors, singers, dancers, theatre geeks, circus freaks, burlesque performers, musicians, artists, set builders, costume wizards – you name it. We want you! Come to Café Cleopatre at 9pm on Wednesday, October 30th to pick your role, get your script and start rehearsing.

Maybe you haven’t been on stage since appearing as Tony in a high school production of West Side Story the better part of a decade ago. Or perhaps you’d be popping your stage cherry, gracing the worn floorboards and facing a live audience for the first time. You’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist, now it’s time to explore. If the stage isn’t really your thing, you could always just lend a hand with props or costumes and watch the actors sweat down to their skivvies from the trap door.

We’ve broken the roles down to three categories: Luscious Lead (*may require full or partial nudity), Scantily Clad Chorus, or a Camel Toe Cameo. Our call is open to professionals and amateurs alike, all roles are up for grabs. Be forewarned though: you could have to sing, you might dare to dance, but above all else, you must be prepared to be ridiculous.

And as completely insane as it sounds, ready or not, the curtains will be drawn 24 hours later and a play will be performed. For more information or to fill out a registration form, visit Glamgam.com… actually you should probably check it out anyway because there are lots of sexy pictures of past shows.

Finally, please cum and check out the show on Halloween night, Thursday October 31st at Café Cleopatre (1230 St. Laurent). Doors open at 9 and the show starts at 10 sharp. It’ll cost you a mere $10 to witness the spectacle, or $15 if you dare to come uncostumed… but who goes out on Halloween without a costume? This show is a fundraiser for our 2014 Montreal Fringe play. Will we succeed in pulling off this seemingly insane undertaking? Or will we fall flat on our naked butts??   Either way, it’s entertainment!

You can find out more on the show’s Facebook page

Ever since I can remember, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, as it combines two of my all-time favorite things: dressing up and candy! When I was really young and before my brother and sister were in the picture, I always dressed up and went trick-or-treating with my dad in home-sewn costumes that had to be big enough to fit over my snowsuit. Growing up in Saskatchewan, I can’t remember a single Halloween where there wasn’t at least a foot of snow on the ground.

We made quite the dynamic duo – him dressed as Sylvester the cat and me as Tweety Bird, or him as a big, grinning red devil and me as a smiling little angel, garland halo and all. My personal favorite was the year he glued white cotton balls to his blue-painted face to be the Papa Smurf to my gleefully giddy Baby Smurf.

It wasn’t until I got a little older that I noticed my costume choices were less about playing dressing up and more about dressing in as little as possible as I succumbed to the pressure of the increasingly shorter and sluttier Halloween costumes of my peers. Whether in a white cropped tuxedo jacket and tails as Playboy Bunny in my first year of university or this year’s Austin Powers inspired, fuchsia marabou-breasted Fembot get-up, I’ve enjoyed the exaggerated versions of femininity that Halloween allows me to try on for a night.

sexy indian costumeAnd while sexy costumes and Halloween seem to go together like too much candy and a bellyache, it made me wonder when and under what circumstances this trend began. As early as the 10th century, the Celts celebrated the end of the harvest with a festival called Samhain, which was halfway between the autumn solstice and the winter equinox. During this time, they believed that the souls of the dead became restless and re-enter the world of the living. The Celts would don costumes and masks as an attempt to confuse or ward-off these wandering spirits.

The anonymity of the mask definitely played its part in the development of the sexy costume, as evident in the masquerade balls that were among the social calendar highlights of the 18th and 19th centuries. Just like today, it was easy for Victorians to eschew their personal morals and ideals while donning the dress of another, at least for an evening or two.

“Respectable women would wear pantaloons or short skirts and milkmaid outfits when they went to costume parties. At the masquerade parties in London, you had costumes with a degree of body exposure. You also had artists’ balls–in Paris especially–where you had revealing costumes and some nudity.” says Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at FIT.

The birth of the contemporary incarnation of the slutty Halloween costumes naturally seems to be in that glorious decade of sexual liberation, the 1970s. It was then that a more raunchy and racy version of Halloween was liberated it from church basements and community centers and thrust into nightclubs and the streets, such as in New York’s famously scandalous Halloween Parade. Of course, this was also the decade that we were treated to the deliciously deviant Tim Curry in a skin-tight, sparkly corset in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, inspiring millions of trashy Halloween costumes for decades to come.

And as cheap, plastic costumes from overseas became more easily available to the point where you can’t even walk into a Pharmaprix or Dollarama without seeing at least two aisles full of glittery masks, synthetic-looking wigs, brightly colored makeup, or eerie accessories in the weeks preceding Halloween, women’s choice became skimpier and skimpier, mirroring the trends in fashion of the time, a slippery slope that we have descended into a world where sexy baby costumes exist.

While there are certain looks that should never be given the sexy Halloween treatment, the like the Sesame Street characters coming under so much scrutiny this season, it definitely is fun to put on a ridiculous outfit and the personality that comes with it, especially for people who don’t get to engage in this act as often as I do in all my burlesque glory.

There is also a growing movement of women who fight against this trend of slutty costumes in an attempt to take back Halloween . They suggest dressing as one of your favorite female historical figures, goddesses or feminist icons, proving there are other options for women beyond just sexy.

Yes!

This Halloween their is a big ol’ costume party happening at Apollon/Katakombes (1450 Ste-Catherine), and the drinks will be deadly! (1.50$ beers & 2$ shots)

For the first time ever some of Montreal’s best talents will be coming together to throw one hell of a party and raise some serious money for ACCM (AIDS Community Care Montreal).

Oct 31st 2012, Disco Dungeon takes over Apollon for a night of dancing, drinking and freaking.

For one night only Katakombes will be transformed into a haunted dungeon with shocking sights and fearful frights lurking around every corner. While Apollon upstairs will relive some studio 54 glory as dead celebrities take back the night and the dance floor. So be there dead or alive but don’t miss Hallow’s Eve Disco & Dungeon!

Music by:

►►B’UGO◄◄

►►THOMAS PROMISE◄◄

►►WHY ALEX WHY ◄◄

►►JNNBNNRCK◄◄

►►HEIDY PINET ◄◄

“It’s close to midnight” Yup, was busy with the first real night of Halloween celebrations last night and preparing for a show I’m participating in on the last night. Took me a while to get this post up, but not a minute too soon, because…

“Something evil’s lurking in the dark” Not so much evil as creative, inventive, fun and a little bit weird, just like Montreal at Halloween time. And Halloween is upon us once again.

Since it’s already started, I’m just going to jump right in, stop cleverly quoting pop tunes, and let you know where you can find some of the the things that go bump in the night this year…

Halloweeird Costume Ball: What better way to kick off your Halloween (unless you went out last night) then by kicking off a new bar. Pom Pom War, P/do P/dro & Cast of Fictional Characters will be joined by Atomic Entertainment and perennially raunchy Glam Gam Productions at the opening party for Jackie & Judy. It’s also a costume ball, the Hallowweeird Costume Ball to be precise and there will be prizes for the best costume.

Saturday, October 29th, 9pm-3am, Jackie & Judy | Rococo Bar Spectacle, 6512 ave du Parc, corner Beaubien, $5

Gaybash: Did you know that Zombie Voguers were infecting Montreal. The folks at GayBash do and that’s the theme of their latest party, which is bound to be huge and wild, as with pretty much all of their previous events. Tonight’s event features special guest The House of Bogue, deranged clowns Sally & Tyler and live performances by the Eklectiks & Tony Vice and much more.

Saturday, September 29th, 10pm to 3:30am, Cherry, 417 St-Pierre, $20 at the door

Blood Ballet: What would Halloween be without a little blood or a lot of blood for that matter. Blood can also be sexy, too. Don’t believe me? Then check out The Blood Ballet Cabaret on Devil’s Sunday. The show’s Facebook event page promises that this “night full of blood, boobs and booze” will be the troupe’s bloodiest outing yet. Judging by previous BBC shows, you should probably believe them.

Sunday, October 30th, 8pm, Le Belmont, 4483 boul St-Laurent, $10

Rocky Horror: If there’s anything that says Halloween in Montreal, it’s Rocky. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is back and this time the Montreal cast, host Plastic Patrik and all the sweet Transylvanian Transvestites will be at the Imperial. The opulence of this classic theatre provides the perfect backdrop for throwing stuff and yelling things at the screen, so if you’re a pro at this or a Rocky virgin, head on down.

October 28th (woops, missed that one), 29th and 31st, 8pm and 11pm, Cinema Imperial, 1430 Bleury. $17.95 in advance, $19.95 at the door (+tax & service)

Haunted Mountain: There’s no doubt that Montreal is a city with many ghost stories and haunted places. One such place is our very own mountain. Turns out Mount Royal has quite a few ghosts inhabiting it’s slopes, paths, nooks and crannies and horror expert Donovan King knows where they are. If you’d like to know too, King’s offering a haunted guided walk up the mountain, at night of course, visiting, among others, the ghost of Esplanade, Jack McLean and the Haunted Fenicular and the child victims of the Alan Memorial Institute.

Monday, October 31st, 8pm, meet at Barfly, 4067A St-Laurent, reservations 514-842-1467, $15

* Pumpkin image by Roni Mizrahi

Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. My birthday’s just around the corner, with a little bit of rationing you can ride the sugar high well into the New Year, and best of all, you get to dress up and play someone else for a day.

Fast forward twenty years and not much has changed. I still stuff my face with mini size chocolate bars for two weeks in October (and one week in November, when they’re 50% off). I’m also enthralled with the idea of donning strange and unfamiliar threads to see what version of myself they unleash. Dress up for grown ups!

Unsurprisingly, give us ladies an inch and we’ll want to take five more off. I think Tina Fey said it best in her screenplay for Mean Girls, “in Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

And while putting on a sexed-up caricature of a nurse’s uniform, police office or pirate may be liberating, is it even relevant these days? With all the reinforcing of traditional heterosexual stereotypes, sex columnist Dan Savage even likened Halloween to a straight pride parade.

He cites a particularly disturbing costume of a “sexy coroner” as evidence that we’ve gone too far in objectifying everything. Similarly, an “Anna Rexia” costume depicting a meager skeleton that includes a measuring tape belt was pulled from online stores this Halloween. While I’m not exactly shocked that an outfit that like exists, I’m a little taken aback. There are so many ways better ways to be sexy than comparing yourself to someone with a serious mental health issue.

My best advice would be to think outside the box. Why settle for sexy nurse when you can be a trampy tramp? Slap on a beard and a tall black hat and you could be Baberaham Lincoln. Invent your own superhero, like my friend Booze Crotch did. She was Pornarella, who brings sex to the unfuckable! Or try something wry like carrying around a box of Special K and a butcher knife and calling yourself a serial killer.

Creatively is always more intriguing that one of those overpriced, run-of-the-mill Leg Avenue costumes. Halloween is the best time to think about who you’ve always wanted to be and try it out for night. You might be surprised how much you like it.

A father and son duo in one of the best moments of 2011 Toronto Zombie Walk

As I figure out what direction my life should take next, I’m enjoying my time living in downtown Toronto with a house full of musicians. With my room on the main floor of the house, I often overhear interesting conversations at all hours of the day and night. This past Saturday I found myself drawn to get out of bed early as I overheard the conversation going on in the kitchen:

“Do you have the bag of sores?” one of my roommates said cheerfully as bacon sizzled in the background.

“It’s right here! Where’s the jugs of blood?” the other responded lazily, putting on the coffee machine.

Pulling myself from bed, I discovered that my roommates were going to spend the day working on a zombie themed music video for their band BLIX, with the climax taking place at the 9th annual Toronto Zombie Walk. I was immediately eager to help out, since I hadn’t worked on a video shoot since the last episode of the FTB web show JC Sunshine’s Fireside Chat.  I was also just as interested to learn what this whole Zombie walk thing was all about.

Turns out Zombie Walk is not a purely Toronto phenomenon. On October 22nd Zombies infested major cities all across Canada, including Montreal (seriously, why haven’t I heard about this before?). In Toronto the march began and ended at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Perusing the Zombie Walk website you see that one could have their “undead memories preserved forever” by signing up for the pre-march photo shoot, and ghouls were also on hand to “give you a severed hand with any blood touch ups needed”. One couple it seems was so interested in making their Zombie Walk special that they decided to get married that day, in full zombie gear.

As a crew member of the BLIX video shoot I was happy to have a warm outfit on that crisp Saturday afternoon while my companions ran around in their skimpy zombie costumes. But I must admit, I was a little disappointed my warm jacket wasn’t also covered in blood and guts like everyone else. It was a bizarre but delightful environment to be around; I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how elaborate people of all ages were in creating their undead attire.

BLIX performs for some eager onlookers at the 9th annual Zombie Walk

Taking a break from the video shoot I was fascinated to wander around Trinity Bellwoods park, taking pictures and chatting with people at the event. Everyone there was happy to share with a stranger their interest in Zombies. “This is her second walk!” one mother happily told me as I took pictures of her young daughter. The toddler ran around the park in a princess dress covered in blood. “Can you give the lady your best zombie growl?” the mother asked her daughter earnestly before they left to go take part in the march. The whole scene made me giggle. You gotta love baby zombies.

Zombie Walk takes place every October in major cities all across Canada. Also make sure you check out BLIX’s video “Moon Song” which debuts on October 29th. Check out BLIX’s tumblr page:   http://blixforce.tumblr.com/