Hay’s Daze: Surviving a scary H22


I was surrounded by the weirdest-looking bunch this side of those sign-waving anti-everything protesters making fools of themselves on the corner. Or the nearest Comic-Con convention. You know, Comi-Con – those huge gatherings that celebrate the world of comics and superhero movies and games where people dress up like it’s Halloween. Except for this time, it was Halloween.

It’s been an awfully long time since I found myself dressed up for Halloween and it’s been several lifetimes since I spent five or six hours in a rowdy adult beverage establishment. On Halloween.

Well, the Saturday before Halloween, that is. You see, lately I’ve been bashing tubs (playing drums) with a couple of good friends in a rockabilly-type trio and ended up getting booked in a popular pub in a popular local location. It was, after all these years, quite the hall of a Halloween.

“I’ll play,” I told bandleader Len, “But I can’t do four hours anymore.” “No problem,” Len says, “It’s booked for three.” I haven’t been slammin’ the skins (playing drums) very much lately and for some reason, I seem to need to have a nice long nap after playing about three tunes. I knew the bar gig wasn’t going to be like that – to my peril – but I wasn’t quite prepared for Halloween 2022 in party central.

First of all, you load the gear in the afternoon. This always involves much more physical activity than expected, and you have to do a sound check which means you can’t set up your traps (drumset) and sneak off before the other guys are finished setting up. Finally, you head home for a quick nosh and nap, and head back. By now, the vociferous venue is practically levitating with freaks and goblins and witches and aliens and also many people dressed in Halloween costumes.

And the band was obligated to participate in abject costumery. Len rocked an outfit he called a “dead rock star”; Wayne, since he already had the hair was an impressive Moses (complete with a staff and stones full of updated “commandments”) and I was a hippie because it was easy since I still currently wear the same 1960s clothing style pretty much daily.

As we settled in for the first set in front of rowdy room full of Halloween beasts and beauties, a stunning belly dancer came over and mentioned that there would be “costume judging” in about three or four hours, and we knew we’d have to keep playing well after that. The belly dancer, who also happened to be the head server did a couple of impressive pirouettes to bring home the point, leaving us realizing that a quick three-hour gig just magically disappeared in a puff of smoke.

But I must say, the bar party costumes of H22 have certainly reached another level of Halloween-ness. There were a couple of “Day of the Dead” zombies that were so real nobody would go near them for fear of having their brains eaten. One girl was lit up with lights in a huge gossamer hat that must have been five feet across. There was a show-stopping angel wearing white feathered wings and a hallo and very little else. And the guy who won the costume contest was riding an inflated seagull. You kind of had to be there for that one.

As it turned, aside from the fact some of us after the party (me) felt like we’d been stepped on by Frankenstein, bitten by Dracula, and beaten up by a Werewolf, we all managed to make it home in more or less one piece. Except I’m pretty some of my brains are missing.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.