By Nicole C. Maloy, W’95
Sadly, grown-ups have fewer options than kids do to participate in the “dress up as a _______” part of Halloween. What a shame! It is so much fun, and I am reminded of this every year when the Halloween-themed salsa dance parties roll around. It is a special – ahem – treat for me and hundreds of others to have a socially-acceptable excuse to get in costume. I took advantage of one of these last weekend at Philadelphia Salsafest, an annual weekend-long event with classes all day, performances in the evening, and dancing all night. (Side note – if you want a crash course in salsa dance, come to this in 2014, or do a search for your city and “salsa congress” to see what similar weekend-long options are available near you. Most have class sessions for dancers of all levels. You can also search for a city plus “salsa lesson” to find a club or a studio that can get you started in the mean time. Worth it!)
At the intersection of salsa dancing and Halloween, there is a catch: you have to be able to dance in your costume. Among other things, according to my own personal rules, such a costume must leave me with good range of motion in the arms and legs, must not endanger me or a dance partner when forced into rapid rotation, and must not inhibit my ability to cool off between songs in a hot room. The year I dressed up as Storm from the X-Men, I decided against strangulation and chose to forego the cape. It was a good decision. When the film Avatar came out, I was very excited about the possibility of dressing as the tall, blue character of Neytiri until I realized that my options were 1) blue body make up all over my arms, or 2) a high necked, long-sleeved, non-breathing blue body suit and blue makeup on my face. Option A could sweat off and/or leave my dance partners, and their thoughtfully-constructed costumes, covered in blue paint. Too inconsiderate. Option B would get makeup on people AND send me to the hospital with heatstroke. Too emergency roomy. I was a bit bummed, but ended up very happy to dance as The Bride from Kill Bill. It turned out that there were a few Neytiris at the party, so at least I was the only one in the costume I selected! That my yellow tracksuit left no remnants on anyone else, and didn’t make me pass out, were nice bonuses.
While I brainstormed for this year’s costume, I considered the whole “era/decade” concept. I had done several variations of the ‘80s, and I once dressed as a ‘60s-era hippie, but – eureka! – never the ‘50s. And what is more dance-ready than the ensemble of an American teenage bobbysoxer? Decision made. My dream would have been to dance to a salsa remake of “Johnny B. Goode” as a tribute to Back to the Future, but I and my poodle skirt still had a great time spinning the night away with other fully-grown humans masquerading as superheroes, puns, celebrities, animated characters, and more.
Do you have an outlet for your burning desire to get into costume as an adult? Next year you can dress up to answer the door to your trick-or-treaters. Or you can take up an activity that draws eccentric types who share your dream of walking around as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. You can also host – or encourage a friend to host – a Halloween party where costumes are expressly encouraged for the adults. Someone out there will thank you for the opportunity.