A Tale of Two Halloweens
Like most of us, when I was little my brother and I would get dressed up in our costumes and go out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. We were pretty poor so the candy collected was more than we would probably get all year. As we grew older we trick-or-treated less and less and finally it as an adult Halloween became an opportunity to dress up how I wanted so I could go out and party; my best friend and I made most of our own costumes. This was a 3-decades long affair that looks as though it has finally come to an end and is transitioning into a mellower holiday for me.
My best friend and I were serious partiers in the 90’s. In Atlanta in the 80’s and 90’s the best places to go were the Masquerade and later on the Chamber. Both places had really good house/industrial/dance music and people had great costumes but the Chamber was a good bit edgier. These two places and a few skanky all-night clubs served our needs for two decades until the Chamber closed in 2005 and the Masquerade moved from the original cool haunted mill to skeazy Underground Atlanta. Now is pretty difficult to find a good place to go for Halloween and it has been a couple years since I have dressed go out.
The Masquerade was a three-level dump in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward that had live music at the top or out back and techno/industrial in the basement. All ages were admitted, but only 21+ could go to the basement level so you had 12 year olds on video games sharing space with drunk and drugged out freaks. The 90’s, right? During Halloween, the place was packed with people pretending to be something else and there was a haunted house out back called the Chambers of Horror.
When the Chamber opened in 1994, at long last “every day was Halloween”. This was a place where anyone could go and be anything they wanted to be any time it was open. Real estate agents from the suburbs would dress up in women’s clothes and be women for a while. They would tell (well, scream over the music) you all about it. There were side shows where people would drip candle wax on people and other types of milder BDSM while industrial music pulsated in the background. Naturally, this became our go-to place for Halloween.
Over the years we went to The Chamber less and less but still tried to make it there each Halloween. We didn’t always make it. It finally closed in 2005. Here is a note from an Atlanta magazine “wayback machine” type article about the old iconic nightclubs that are now relegated to the dustbin:
Girls in cages. Guys on leashes. When this kinkier cousin to the Masquerade opened in an unmarked warehouse off Cheshire Bridge Road in 1994, it scratched an itch Atlanta didn’t know it had. Suburbanites swarmed in to gyrate to industrial music and ogle BDSM acts played out on various stages.
Fate: The cat-o’-nine-tails were retired in 2005.
So, yeah for 20 years, this was a Halloween standard and it hasn’t been the same since. We moved our partying to various clubs but all of the cool ones closed in the mid-2000’s when city ordinances changed and lights were out all over the city at 3am. The 24-hour clubs like Backstreet and Club Anytime closed so the “Chamber ‘til 3 and on to Backstreet” strategy was no more. The Masquerade is still around in powder form, and my niece works there doing lighting. I am not willing to show up at my niece’s workplace in a fucking costume and dance like it’s 1996. Perhaps this is sort of a sign. I am going to a neighborhood Halloween gathering at the dam and give out candy on Tuesday.
Thrill and I have talked about how over the years Halloween has become a shell of its former self. Trunk or Treating is an abomination unless your closest neighbors are a mile away. They can’t take our music away, right? So let’s get to it:
- Every Day is Halloween – Industrial music was some of the best dance music ever made. God bless Al Jourgensen. Seriously, think of all of the influences he had on music.
- The Masquerade – Share your favorite Halloween themed songs and Halloween stories. Do you like to dress up and scare little kids? Tell us about it! I did just that for two years as a troll at Six Flags’ Fright Fest. ProTip: you can actually make them pee their pants. One of the other trolls chewed up a mini pumpkin and spewed it all over a little kid that was bugging the hell out of him. I’d give anything to have a pic of the expression on that kid’s face now. Again – the 90’s. Try to get away with that today.
- The Chamber – Do you think Thrill will be mad at me if we continue with the headbanging from last week? It fits the Halloween party vibe and it is always good to headbang. Maybe he won’t notice.
Here’s the playlist:
Funny story about “Everyday is Halloween”. The Chamber played it all the time and I loved dancing to it. I could never get them to tell what song it was. Fucking with me, I guess. Assholes.
Thrill – N.W.O.
Santino – Assimilate
Spootyjim – Die, Die My Darling
Westvirginiarebel – Jesus Built My Hotrod
Grendel – Season of the Witch
Zurvan – Epiphany