Thursday, October 6, 2011

Street Dance for Zombies: The Traverse City "Monster's Ball"

Ever heard of a Silent Disco?

Well, you wouldn’t actually hear it. It’s silent, right? But you could watch one on Oct. 29, when Traverse City adds yet another entry to its list of eldritch fall happenings: the first-ever Old Town Halloween Carnival and Monster’s Ball. And it’s a spooky sight to behold.

In a Silent Disco, dancers are issued wireless headphones through which music is broadcast via an FM transmitter. It’s the perfect eerie effect for a Halloween street party, since everyone appears to be moving to no discernible music at all. (An added benefit is that non-dancers don’t have to shout at each other over the music, and the neighbors don’t call the cops to report you for making a public nuisance.)

Already known among Halloween cognoscenti for its ghoulish 5K Zombie Run footrace, where shambling “zombie” runners chase down normal-looking “survivors,” and the unspeakable cuteness of its kid-friendly Downtown Halloween Walk, Traverse City seems determined to make itself the Halloween capital of the Midwest with yet another event.

Billed as “the largest Halloween event in Northern Michigan,” the Oct. 29 Halloween Carnival and Monster’s Ball is being assembled by Porterhouse Productions, which runs the successful Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival in August. As the name implies, it will be held in the city’s historic Old Town district, on Union Street between 7th and 8th streets.

"It's going to be so out of the park!" says promoter Sam Porter. "We tested this idea at the microbrew festival, and it caught on like wildfire -- we know we've got something really exciting here."

The “daylight” portion of the carnival starts with a Saturday morning “Monster Pancake Throwdown” – a contest among local chefs in this bastion of culinary competitiveness for the title of Best Pancake in Traverse City. Pancakes will be served out with a host of other locally-produced sausages, eggs, jams, syrups and ciders. Family-style fun continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a kids’ costume contest, a haunted bouncy castle, old-school carnival games, Halloween creatures, a pneumatic “virtual hearse ride,” a pumpkin pie-eating contest, performances by local bands and dancers and other fun.

But things really begin to happen after dark, when the streets are taken over by the Monster’s Ball, with local food, wines and microbrews, and music from live bands and DJs. Entertainment will include the last live performance of Michigan dance-rock group Ella Riot (this will be the band’s farewell show), a costume contest featuring premium prizes, and an all-night Silent Disco dance party featuring DJ Body Rock and Wally Sparks (of Ella Riot), DJ Dominate and others.

Tickets for Porterhouse Productions’ Old Town Halloween Carnival & Monsters’ Ball can be purchased online at . Admission for the Monster Pancake Throwdown and Halloween Carnival is $8 for attendees 13 and up and $ for children ages 3-12. Children ages 2 and under are free. Admission for the Monsters’ Ball is $20 in advance or $25 at the door (if not sold out in advance). The Monsters’ Ball is open to attendees ages 21 and over only – no exceptions.
For more information, visit or find them on Facebook at

For help with lodging and dining options, and to learn about other adventures, activities and attractions in the Traverse City area, contact the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-TRAVERSE or on line at

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