By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor
Picture masked figures in a cavernous room dimly lit by flickering candles. Strangers mingling, whispering. Decadence is in the air. Debauchery is in hidden corners. Where are you? You’re at “the greatest masquerade on earth.”
It’s called “Theatre Bizarre” and it takes over the Masonic Temple Saturday, October 22.
What is Theatre Bizarre? It’s a one-night-only Detroit Halloween event that celebrates burlesque, darkness, fetishes, music and mood. With more than 12,000 Facebook fans, thousands are expected to attend.
Detroit shut down the event last year, after years of operation in a neighborhood near the state fairgrounds, citing fire code violations and the lack of clear exits.
But it’s back in 2011 and for the first time will fill all seven floors of the Masonic Temple, with its ballrooms and cathedrals. “Theatre Bizarre has become the city’s most famous and infamous underground party,” according to the website. Has it? You be the judge.
This year’s theme is “The Initiation,” with attendees set to be initiated into a secret society known as “Templum Balatro.” Dark nooks and crannies and elaborate scene preparation is expected to turn the Masonic into a macabre fantasy world. The goal is to open up portals to other worlds, dark, dangerous and beautiful worlds. It’s billed as resembling a “nightmare come to life.”
The night begins at 7 p.m. and officially ends at 4 a.m. Drinks and snacks will be sold inside, with no outside food or drinks allowed. There will be security at the door, and only those 21 years old and over are welcome.
Online sales have closed, but you can still get $65 tickets at Theatre Bizarre-friendly local businesses, including Noir Leather in downtown Royal Oak, Adornment Deluxe in Berkley, Detroit Comics in Ferndale, Showtime in Detroit, and Orbit Hair Design and Massage in Ann Arbor. Get addresses, websites and phone numbers here.
Masonic Temple staff will operate a secure lot at a cost of $8 per car. But you can save the hassle of parking with The Night Move, a Ferndale-based eco-shuttle, which is running a special shuttle to the event. A Theatre Bizarre pass for the shuttle is $15.
It picks up every hour in front of O’Toole’s in Royal Oak and at 10 minutes past every hour along Woodward in Ferndale, between Woodward Avenue Brewers and the Emory, and drops off at the front doors of the Masonic Temple. Buy a shuttle pass here.
The Initiation will include 25 bands, 13 DJs, 12 burlesque acts, and 60 sideshow performances. Major acts include Nine Pound Hammer, DEADBOLT, 52 Devil Babies Born With Tails, Cult of the Psychic Fetus, Weird Sisters Circus, Dirty Devil’s Peepshow, Jawbone, Satori Circus, Los Minstrels de Diablo and FUR.
What to wear
Costumes are required for entry, and any costume is OK, but the more elaborate, the better. And a mask is your best bet. The goal is to disguise your identity.
A Facebook fan describes it this way, “This is not the party for your sexy school girl or Jersey Shore outfit. Think occult, satanic, scary or oddball.”