Fundamental Event Elements; Big, Bad Ideas; and Being Open to The Experience

Summer Block
5 min readJan 2, 2022

This year Halloween landed, for me, in the hiatus between (adult) vaccinations and new variants when I felt briefly okay-ish about going places, and so my sister and I went with our friend Lisa to a Halloween event billed as a “haunted cocktail soiree” in an old church, now event space, in Highland Park. The event combined interactive theater, performance art, and a scare maze, while being very much none of those things, and like so many places in Los Angeles, it also included a step and repeat (there was a step and repeat at the place Beatrice went to get her COVID shot). There was an overarching narrative (something about orphans, I think, or a haunted doll?) and a vaguely Slavic decorating scheme and most impressively, they combined all three Fundamental Event Elements — burlesque, aerialism, and overly fussy cocktails — into one. In an interior courtyard a beautiful woman in a sheer lace leotard dangled seductively from a length of blue silk. The idea was that she’d pour you a cocktail while suspended upside-down, but of course that isn’t possible, so instead you had to place your drink order with a regular old right-side-up bartender who would then relay it to the beautiful aerialist’s right-side up handler, who would hand you a coupe and the aerialist a bottle of gin, and then the aerialist, helplessly rotating, would slowly and sloppily fill your glass, and then you would take it back to the bartender to finish making the drink. Everyone involved seemed a little embarrassed, but the cocktails were good and strong and the price of admission included four drink tickets no one even bothered taking, as if in apology.

Inside the old church there were a lot of practical effects that only partly worked, or were clearly the good-enough implementations of grander visions. There was — is — always someone on stilts. A woman in an all-white flamenco dress sang Radiohead’s Creep as a torch song, there was some sort of big stuffed bear on stage wearing a bishop’s robes and mitre, I let an actress cut off a bit of my hair and place it inside a matryoshka doll, it was wonderful. I had the time of my life.

Now everything is closing again, for how long I don’t know, and I’m thinking fondly of all the events I’ve gone to over the years and how much I’ve enjoyed them all. The best of them were very good, smart and intimate and surprising, rooftop concerts and living room stand-up shows and community choruses and the best Chekhov performance I’ve ever…

Summer Block

Writer for Catapult, Longreads, The Awl, The Toast, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and so on. Owner of After-Party Taxidermy. Working on a book about Halloween.