Author: Tania Escobar
A swinging after-party always compliments the experience at any convention. With the move of ScareLA 2017 to the Los Angeles Convention Center, it only made sense that the original Halloween-themed con would have a haunting afterparty at the oldest and swankiest Downtown venue, Clifton’s. Native Angelenos remember it as Clifton’s Cafeteria, the only surviving restaurant of The Golden Age of Cafeterias, family-owned since 1888. This vintage hot spot still serves amazing eats but has focused its attention to include millennial nightlife.
To attend, guests had to purchase a separate ticket. The space included a bar and performances by the live jazz band Midnight Kingdom and DJ Quickpheet, who’s known in the comic book convention circles. It was easy to see why they titled the event Spookeasy as it was held in the authentic speakeasy found downstairs in the basement of the building. The ambiance was complete with antique typewriters, classic rotary dial phones, and a giant vintage radio. It was dazzling for me to attend an exclusive 1920s ghostly-themed shindig on such a historic site.
Performers were also present among the crowd, including a contortionist and themed characters entertaining patrons. The present scare cast were two hauntingly beautifully living dead girls in flapper dresses, a zombie butler, two demon bouncers, and Satan himself (it turns out he’s a short fellow).
The moment I arrived at the secret entrance, I was approached by one of the demon bouncers. I showed him my wristband and stepped through the door, only to be greeted by a warm breath down my neck. It was the young handsome red Devil. This was by far the most invigorating moment of my night, as it was equally scary and attractive. Satan and the demon escorted me down the stairs and into the Spookeasy.
As I descended into the basement, I was met with dancing and drinks that were simply the bee’s knees. Even better were the characters, who would walk around and engage with partygoers. I even overheard Lucifer say that night was the first this speakeasy had been open since 1927. Though word of mouth from The Prince of Darkness is rarely the truth, I took this knowledge to heart. I imagined a space full of intimate affairs like this one (minus maybe the undead), which added to my night experience.
Since the Spookeasy was a private event, visitors weren’t allowed entrance downstairs without admission; those with passes were allowed in and out privileges. I will confess I left a couple of times in hopes of creeping out the living upstairs. I got a few freaked-out looks from my frightening custom Decayed Brigade black-and-white makeup, but it all comes with the Halloween haunt pride. What’s an undead party if you can’t scare a person or two?
A 1920s haunting cocktail in an original speakeasy was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This after-party was the cherry atop my early Halloween thrills and a beautiful end to two consecutive weekends of horror convention fun.