This weekend I experienced my second Halloween, or my third if you count accompanying my host-sisters as they went trick-or-treating when I was on exchange in Spokane, Washington, when I was 16. And, indeed, until moving here last year that was what I thought Halloween was: kids systematically hitting strangers up for candy, in violation of the rule we're all taught when we're young.
But it turns out it's much, much more than that. In fact, it's possibly the biggest party night of the year, up there with New Years Eve. And it's certainly not just kids - big kids of all ages get dressed up and boogie down. You see superheros and fairies and Spartans and ninja's and computers walking down the street, or rocking out on the dance floor at every bar in town. An entire country attending one big costume party.
Now admitedly my perspective might be skewered here by the fact that the two Halloweens I've been here have fallen on Friday and Saturday. If I'm here in a year or two I'll be able to see how much of the manic energy carried into Sunday and Monday nights, or transfers to the nearest weekend night. But there's something adorable and exciting about so many adults dressing up; it creates a sense of fun and play which is very immersive.
The Burning Man community figured this out a long time ago of course, so I find myself dressing thematically on an unusually-common basis currently. The weekend was a kaleidoscopic blur of people, colour, music and movement, filled with smiling faces and, of course, a spectacular variety of outfits. It was, as they say, a good time, with an energy in the air way beyond an average weekend, a sense of performative abandon which is perhaps only possible when you are wearing a costume.
You can see photos from TechArts: A Spooky Union, the party we attended on Saturday night, here.