Halloween is usually a holiday I ignore. Not because I don’t like it, but for a couple reasons: for one, I love it too much- as a longtime fan of horror movies, dressing up in costume and of creepy music, I feel like I need to ACE the holiday. I have struggled for a long time with a fairly crippling case of perfectionism (seriously, this is no humblebrag), so when it an opportunity to decorate, make costumes, I feel overwhelmed by my own expectations and whirr myself into a miserable froth of sad. For a second reason, I’m not crazy about socializing and parties, and I feel like I need to have the perfect opportunity to showcase the perfect costumethat I need to make. However, this year, I accepted an invite to a party, so I started the froth machine up to start feeling Halloweeny (or like a halloweenie?).
Before making my costume, I felt that I needed to get in the Halloween mindset, so I started to read “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. I’ve actually had a hardcover copy for years (illustrated by Edward Gorey!), but I’d previously had a hard time getting into it. This time, I was determined to finish reading it by the end of the month. Both the Victorian era formal language and the fact that the book is written in the form of diaries and letters took a little getting used to, but after the first evening reading it, I was fully engaged. I found that once I was accustomed to the Victorian English, it’s actually a page turner. I’ve only made it about halfway through so far, but each evening I’m eager to find out what happens next in spooky fin de siecle London.
The costume I have decided on is time consuming; however, is not even slightly scary. I am going to be Bjork in the Swan Dress, which is my favorite red carpet look of all time. I thought that she had brought an egg-shaped purse to accessorize the look, but did you know that her swan dress actually held SIX (!) large sparkly “eggs” to for her to pretend to lay all along the red carpet?! Honestly, I am in awe. Most dresses don’t even have pockets for keys, let alone pockets for holding your props! And laying eggs on the red carpet is an ideal irreverent activity to perform during that silly spectacle. (I’m all for fashion- it’s kind of my raison d’etre - but standing around in fancy clothes for the purpose of answering inane questions about “who” a person is wearing is, to use a Britishism, a mug’s game.) As for my costume, I’m about halfway through, but I’ve already made a mistake – the swan is reversed from the Bjork version, but after considering starting from scratch, I decided to not succumb to my perfectionist tendencies and carry on, because really, if someone criticizes my reversed swan, their costume better be flawless, or they can expect to receive my patented Sass™ in response.
Back to the holiday at hand, Halloween. If you think about it, a holiday commemorating death and the darker side of life is perfect for the autumn – the time of the year (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) that the leaves are falling, the grass is dying and the plants and animals are getting ready to hibernate through the winter. Before Christianity, Britons celebrated the lord of death Samhain, who they believed gathered that year’s dead souls. After the spread of Christianity, the old pagan celebration was subsumed into All Hallows Eve, and was an official holy day (aka holiday) until 1953 in the Catholic Church. (In 1953, the Catholic calendar was edited down and All Hallows Eve was removed.)
So, despite my decidedly unspooky costume, I wanted to celebrate the creepier side of Halloween with this month’s playlist. When I was creating it, I wanted music that made me think about witches, vampires and stuff, but not in a pulpy way, but if they were real, like in “Dracula”. And I realized that a bunch of songs on my mental Forever Fave playlist involve monsters – a witch in “Red Apple”, vampires in both “Blah Blah Blah” and “I’m a Vampire,” the undead in David Bowie’s “Lazarus” and a monster of a more modern sort, “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” I’ve rounded it out with a spooky Billie Eilish song, the always paranoia-inducing sounds of Pulp and some old-timey weirdness from Rasputina among other faves. I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do. Last night I had it on repeat as I slowly added more tulle to my swan costume. Scroll down to play it yourself.