After spending weeks putting together the perfect costume, you better show it off on Halloween weekend. Chicago's costume parties embrace just about every genre, from space cadets to superheroes to the scariest of psychos. We rounded up some parties that will inspire you to travel back to "Magnum, P.I." days, dive into an 18th century masquerade and just revel in the horror of Halloween.
Classy Masks: If you prefer your men and women elegantly masked, as in the musical genius who haunts in "The Phantom of the Opera" or the hyper-erotic characters in "Eyes Wide Shut," make your way to the Drake Hotel for The Palm Court Masquerade Ball 2011. There is, perhaps, no other place in Chicago more fitting than the 91-year-old Drake for holding a masquerade ball. The ball will take place in the hotel's Palm Court, the same area where men and women bite into scones and sip afternoon tea as harp music plays. At the ball on Oct. 28, guests can taste champagne cocktails from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and mingle as local crooner Nan Mason performs throughout the the evening. Prizes will be awarded for the best male and female masks, and a grand unveiling of masks will take place as midnight strikes.
Tickets: $16; 8 p.m. Oct. 28-12:30 a.m. Oct. 29; (Masks are required, but if you show up without one, a mask will be handed to you at the door.)
The Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton St.; 312-932-4619
Mustache Men (and the people who love them): Come with your mullet, your 1980s jean jacket and your meanest mustache to the 'Stache Bash at Joe's Bar on Weed Street. The bash, thrown by the American Mustache Institute to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong, is a self-proclaimed "really dumb annual costume-heavy music and mustache charitable benefit." The 'Stache Bash boasts entertainment from Romeo Dance Cheetah, who, with his flowing brown mane, red skintight pants and glittering, personalized silver belt buckle, strutted to last year's U.S. air guitar championship title. The Flavor Savers and iPop are also set to perform, and part of the party includes the unveiling of the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year. Tickets for 'Stache Bash include an open bar for the evening consisting of beer, Miller Light drafts, wine, pop and cocktails. And if you don't have natural hair on your upper lip, you can pick up a stick-on 'stache at the door.
Tickets: $25 advance, $30 at the door; 8 p.m. Oct. 28
Joe's Bar on Weed St., 940 W. Weed St.; 1-877-782-2431
Zombie Lovers: The more gruesome you look, the better you'll blend in with the movies being screened at Terror in the Aisles 9 at Portage Theater. It'll be bloody on the screen on at the triple feature event, where "Shaun of the Dead" (comedy/horror), "Dance of the Dead" (high school prom turned horror) and "Demons" (a 1980s Lamberto Bava flick set in West Berlin) will be shown. The event will also show five short films, including "Flesh-Eating Fog" and "Treevenge," as well as something called "Trailer Trash," which previews horror and sci-fi films. Gregg Bishop, director of "Dance of the Dead," is scheduled to make an appearance, and the most wicked-looking zombies will be awarded $200 in prizes in a costume contest. And to show that zombies can be good, too, Terror in the Aisles 9 will also hold a charity auction for Vital Bridges, an organization providing services to Chicagoans affected by HIV/AIDS.
Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at the door (dress as a zombie for $2 off entry fee)
Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee; 773-736-4050
Any Costume Will Do: If you were the nonchalant kid who went trick-or-treating in regular clothes and told candy givers that you were dressing as yourself, you'll probably be comfortable in that same costume at the Bull & Bear and Public House's Halloweekend. Then again, groups of beer-toting witches and pirates are also welcome. Go in whatever you want to the Nightmare on Wells Street and the Public House of Horror events, but be prepared to drink. A ticket to the joint bashes gets you speed entry into both bars, $5 Three Olive bombs and a one-hour party package stocked with Absolut, Bacardi, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Milagro mixers, 312 wheat ale Bud Light, and drafts beers.
General Admission tickets: $30 to Bull & Bear; $40 to Public House (advance); 9 p.m. - 3 a.m. Oct. 29.
Bull & Bear: 431 N. Wells St.; 312-527-5973. Public House: 400 N. State St.; 312-265-1240
Space Wear: Indulge any inclination to dress up as Neptune or Neil Armstrong at Adler After Dark: Spooky Space. The Adler Planetarium's monthly 21 and up gathering takes on Halloween in galactic style. Scary "constellation stories" will be told inside of Adler's historic Atwood Sphere, the city's oldest planetarium, which depicts Chicago's night sky as it appeared in 1913. A one-night-only screening of "Space Mysteries" will run in the planetarium's Definiti Space Theater, and participants can indulge their playfulness with interactive slime. Odd Obsession will screen rare DVD flicks, and DJ Tim Zawada spins while guests can dance and sip on a special Halloween Rum and Coke cocktail called the Rummy Worm. There will, of course, be a costume contest, which will be hosted by Spider-Man and which will award both the best overall costume and the snazziest space-inspired apparel.
Tickets: $9 for members & $12 for nonmembers (advance); $12 for members and $17 for nonmembers (at the door); 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 20
Adler Planetarium, 1300 South Lake Shore Drive; 312-922-7827
Scary Family Specials: Go in any kind of costume, but go hungry to Barrio Urban Taqueria and D'Noche Latin American Kitchen Bar. Barrio Urban Taqueria in Lincoln Park, with its adobo shrimp, pozole soup and lengua (beef tounge), offers adults in costume half off any appetizer from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31. Costumed kids can nab tacos for $1 if they do come into Barrio Urban for a pre- or post trick-or-treating meal. And for a little Halloween-oriented drink with a latin infusion, order up a pumpkin margarita, which will be served all weekend. Across town in Logan Square, D'Noche Latin American Kitchen & Bar will hold a costume contest on Oct. 28 and 29 for adults, with kids who come in costume from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Halloween eating free with an adult. D'Noche isn't neglecting Halloween-inspired libations, either: on the cocktail menu from Oct. 28-31 are rosemary ciders and pumpkin spice martinis.
Barrio Urban Taqueria: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sun.; 714 W. Diversey; 773-360-8316
D'Noche Latin American Kitchen & Bar: 4:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 4:30 p.m. - 2 a.m. Fri. (kitchen closes at 1 a.m.); 4:30 p.m. - 3 a.m. Sat. (kitchen closes at 1 a.m.); 2710 N. Milwaukee; 773-289-4274
Farm Life at Chipotle: You can always wrap foil around your head on Halloween, as you might have done to mimic a burrito in years past, walk into Chipotle and order the Halloween special. But a little bit more creativity could net you the $2,500 grand prize in the burrito chain's costume contest. Chipotle, which is celebrating family farms this year, will reward anyone who comes into the store dressed in a costume inspired by the family farm -- a pig, a pepper, a tractor, etc.. -- with its Boorito special of a $2 burrito, bowl, tacos or salad. To enter the costume contest, take a photo of your farm-inspired costume inside or outside of a Chipotle restaurant and submit it between Oct. 31 and Nov. 8 at Chipotle's Boorito site or text the photo to 888222 with keyword "costume."
Chipotle restaurants everywhere from 6 p.m. to close on Halloween.
Costumed Cuties: You know it's Halloween, er Chicagoween, when the fountain at Daley Plaza turns bright orange and when acrobats from the Midnight Circus do flips around the stage. For the best free, citywide party for your costumed cuties, take your kiddos to the Monster Bash at Daley Plaza, rechristened Franken Plaza for Halloween weekend. The most activity takes place on Sat., Oct. 29, when kids 12 and younger can participate in a costume contest (homemade getups encouraged), hayrides happen and loads of trick-or-treat candy will be given out. The Midnight Circus performs each day of Chicagoween, from Oct. 28-30, and kids can also make fun, spooky arts and crafts from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. each day.
11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Oct. 28-29, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Oct. 30
Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn Streets
Sexy & Scary & Michael Jackson: For a place to wear that racy maid or nurse uniform or that graveyard-inspired gear, head to Tzar Ultra Lounge for its Fourth Annual Halloween Thriller party. Tour the lounge's Sexy Nightmare haunted house and work it in the lounge's "sexxxy & scary" costume contest, where cash prizes will be given out. DJ Wags is set to spin, and Svedka Vodka hosts a ghoulish bar from 9 p.m. - 11 p.m. Be sure to stay until at least midnight, when Platinum Dance Crew gets down to do a "Thriller" special that would make Michael Jackson smile.
Tickets: $15 advance; $20 at the door; 9 p.m. - 2 a.m. Oct. 28.
Tzar Ultra Lounge: 215 W. Ontario; 312-255-8927