From the moment you walked in the door of the Park Plaza and were greeted with a tower with gold-painted mannequin parts spelling out the letters KCRW, it was clear Masquerade is not your normal radio benefit event. Or your normal Halloween party for that matter.
Without a doubt, KCRW throws one of the best parties in town but a good chunk of the credit goes to the attendees themselves who really get decked out and continue to impress with their creative costuming.
Within minutes of the doors opening, a small group of the station’s DJs had gathered in the Gold room dancing to DJ Mario Cotto’s set while DJ Anne Litt, dressed as a hockey player, skated around outside by the food trucks where costumed attendees were already lining up to get their photo taken for the costume contest. (You can vote for your favorites on our Facebook page!)
As people filed into the legendary Park Plaza, I saw some costume themes right away – quite a few Guy Fawkes masks, some Hunter S Thompsons, a herd of black swans, a team of Scrabble letters spelling out the word “LEGALIZE”, the guys from Spinal Tap and a smattering of just about everything under the sun – ornate, crazy and sometimes barely there. The one consistent thing I heard all night was that everyone was impressed with everyone else’s costumes. It was a mutual admiration society that only made the good vibes of the evening better.
There is so much going on at Masquerade that it’s hard to picks highlights but Henry Rollins headbanging to “Rock the Casbah”, which he followed with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”, was a moment of pure exhilaration. He put every fiber of his being in his DJ set and the crowd responded with the same passion. (see his set list and more here)
The crowd went crazy for Mariachi El Bronx. Who know there were so many Mariachi fans?!? They played in the Bronze room where Aaron Byrd, Mathieu Schreyer and Jeremy Sole had already cultivated a groovy vibe. Garth “The Red Nose Reindeer”Trinidad threw in a needed dose of hip hop as well as a little Sade and Hall and Oates while Valida brought it all home with some pop hits (Can’t go wrong with “Burning Down the House”!).
Moby was literally conducting the throngs of dancing masses upstairs in the Terrace Room. When his arms went up in the air, so did the crowd’s. Earlier he’d asked on Twitter what everyone wanted to hear and they requested a set of underground house and rave anthems, which is exactly what they got. KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley had already gotten the crowd going, with a little help from RAC remix master Andre Allen Anjos and Liza Richardson.
Eric J Lawrence, dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, not only put in a DJ set but joined the ghost story lounge for a reading of The Raven. Outside on the patio, local artist Aaron Axelrod created art before our very eyes with Melting Rainbows, as he used the simple tools of paint, a dome and his eccentric personality to make something unexpected, messy and very colorful.
My lasting image, however, was as the end of the evening was near. During the entire night, the grand staircase in the lobby – which provides just a glimpse into the overall grandeur and elegance of the Park Plaza – served as a backdrop to numerous photo shoots. But after 1am, the stairs became the place to just sit back and take it all in. And that’s what I love about Masquerade, it truly has something entertaining in every corner, even if you just want to rest your tired feet.
Enjoy photos by photographers Gary Leonard and Jeremiah Garcia (more coming on our Flickr page shortly) and check out our Facebook page for shots from the costume contest.
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