Don't fall asleep
The spirits that linger just might come back to haunt the annual Nightmare on Congress Street at Hotel Congress this Saturday.
The event features mummified music, carnival games from hell, two costume contests and makeup artists from The SlaughterHouse. Tickets to the spooky event are available online for $8 until midnight Friday. On Saturday, the price rises to $10, and tickets can be purchased when doors open at 8 p.m.
But you may want to purchase them ahead of time — David Slutes, the entertainment and booking director of Hotel Congress, said this Halloween event is an exhilarating experience and is not to be missed.
“Nightmare on Congress Street has been one of our premier events for a decade at least,” Slutes said. “It’s huge; it always sells out. The costume contests are the best in town.”
The 21-and-over event will offer $4 Stoli Flavors vodka and $4 Maker’s Mark whiskey starting at 10 p.m.
Congress’ reputation as a haunted hotel suits the annual event, said owner Richard Oseran.
“We had some Navy SEALs that stayed here, and in the middle of the night they came down with their bags,” Oseran said. “They just said, ‘We — we have to check out.’”
If you dare to test it out, a giant Ouija board coffee table is located in the center of the lobby, and Matt Baquet, a booker at Hotel Congress, said all you have to do is ask the front desk for the pointer.
Nightmare on Congress Street will hold Halloween costume competitions at 10 p.m. and midnight. As the clock strikes 12, prizes will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners.
As a former judge for the contest, Slutes said the secret to winning is to be as imaginative as possible with your costume, but prepare yourself to face more than the predictable Halloween attire as competition.
“[The winner is] almost always the most creative costume,” Slutes said. “People can have these … really big store-bought ones, and they really look great, but it’s usually the ones who put [in] the most effort.”
Last year’s winners, Slutes said, were Edward Scissorhands and a “Super Troopers” character having sex with a blowup bear.
If you need to resurrect your lifeless costume and get an edge on the competition, Baquet said makeup artists from The SlaughterHouse will gather in the hotel to zombify everyone for free.
Local DJs Sid the Kid and Bob Felix will provide dance music inside. Slutes said the duo are the venue’s best team of DJs and they are expected to pump up the club’s dance floor with their beats all night long.
Live music will be performed under the moonlight and will feature Chris Black, Burning Palms and 80’s & Gentlemen. Slutes says each artist is doing something special for the Halloween-themed night.
Black will perform with Gabe Sullivan on drums. Baquet said Black plays a variety of styles, but Saturday night will be more of a rock performance.
“The time I saw them — it was weird time signatures, weird progressions and Gabe just rocking out like crazy,” Baquet said. “It’s cool, and it fits with the weird, spooky theme of the night.”
The Egyptian-influenced quintet Burning Palms features songwriter Simone Stopford on vocals and guitar, Julia DeConcini on vocals and percussion, Chris Sauer playing guitar, Nate Gutierrez strumming on bass and Sammy Swinson on drums.
“The whole band is really into magic and mysticism,” Stopford said. “What we want to do is a series of albums that focus on different elements of Egyptian mysticism.”
Stopford says this mysticism is mainly depicted through lyrics and on-stage presence, adding that the band’s Egyptian-style clothing helps to create a stimulating visual experience, so the show isn’t based solely on music.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to just take it to some kind of macabre, twisted next level,” she said. “I think it’s really easy with the whole Egyptian theme because a lot of it is about mummies and death, and things being warped and old.”
One song in the band’s lineup that Stopford said will be a hit for the night is “Pyramids,” a song based on her favorite Bob Dylan song, “Isis.”
“[‘Isis’] is about [Dylan] getting involved with a wacky adventure where a crazy man drags him out into a desert to find money in [a tomb] in a pyramid,” she said. “‘Pyramids’ is based on that song, and it’s just really fast and driving.”
Stopford said that she has developed an admiration for the buzzing art culture in Tucson during her two years here and is proud that fans recognize the desert and Egyptian influence the band strives to emulate.
“I’m a really huge admirer and supporter of the local music scene,” she said. “It’s going to be a really big extravaganza for the senses, and whoever isn’t there is going to be missing out on a lot of levels.”