Having a Haunted Hearts event on Halloween was the perfect way to give Desert Hearts a spooky twist, and they should do it every year!
It was Halloween and my group and I arrived precisely at 9pm to get the night started right as we anticipated this sold-out event being packed to the brim. Upon arrival, our thoughts were confirmed as the line was already all the way back to the alley, double layered by attendees. Haunted Hearts was running a little late, and they didn’t begin letting people immediately which we didn’t mind considering the event was announced to go until 4am.
The line was full of attendees donning costumes, some clever, some beautiful, but I think my favorite theme of the night was all the people that came as Mikey Lion. Although his hat is iconic and each costume came with one, there were also plenty of puns about his last name. A lion wearing a fancy top hat is just hilarious, in my opinion.
Once we walked into the venue, we were pleasantly surprised by a familiar yet redone stage.
As we entered the main foyer area, the setup was very familiar. A merchandise booth to our left, a bar straight ahead, and on either side, the entrance to the dance floor. It was a smaller version of the Desert Hearts stage but decorated with softly glowing eggs at the very front. Skulls upon the decks and along the sides of the stage, along with the familiar chandeliers really helped create a very spooky atmosphere.
Above us, we could see long black and white sheets hanging from the ceiling with a long skeleton spine across the top of the dance floor. Every detail added to the spooky feel, especially the smoke machines and the stilt walkers that were some sort of tree creatures making their way through the crowd from time to time. The other stilt walkers were the Desert Hearts take on the Red Queen and Cheshire Cat, both beautifully done in their iconic fashion.
The Desert Hearts crew really outdid themselves on their costumes this year.
Porky was on first, wearing an elegant French maid outfit. It was funny to just watch people walk into the main room and realize what he was wearing. Lee Reynolds was walking around with a very shaggy wig and 80’s outfit taking photos. This was probably the first time I saw Mikey Lion without a spectacular hat; instead, he had donned a very convincing Beetle Juice outfit, complete with a bald cap wig! Marbs was a skeleton with a very round skull-like facemask. Their costumes were on point and beautifully put together.
The performers and vendors really made us feel at home.
The outside courtyard at Haunted Hearts hosted multiple clothing vendors, another small bar, and the smoking area. By the middle of the show, it was packed with people getting air, taking photos, and vaping or smoking. When we got back inside we were able to catch the flow artists. Periodically throughout the night, wand spinners, staff and hula hoop performers, poi spinners, and the rest of the flow artists came to the front of the dance floor to perform. As the batons spun, the Desert Hearts logo appeared on them. Each performer was beautifully done up in zombie or possession make-up.
Even the music contained Halloween cameos, adding another facet to the house, techno, and love we are so used to.
Each set was the same vibe we’ve come to expect from Desert Hearts with some really seasonal twists. Marbs had a remix of Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer” whose vocals added a creepy vibe to his bouncy house set. He closed the set with Matt Ossentjuk feat. Justin Jay’s “No Goin Back”, seamlessly transitioning into Mikey Lion’s set.
Mikey’s set was full of this combination disco house and bass that had the party moving. It was fun watching him spin as Beetle Juice and the crowd loved it, too, as someone shouted it a couple of times. Spooky clocks chimed as Damian Lazarus took the stage, and it felt like the bass got louder at this point. Damian closed out the night with some dark, deep house vibes that made it very hard to leave.
I assembled my group as we got ready to depart for the night. The drive back to San Diego was an easy, traffic-less trip and we were so very hype about the show we just saw. Haunted Hearts was everything we love about Desert Hearts but with their unique Halloween twist and flair; I hope they do it every year!