What to do if staying home is just too scary

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. When my sons still lived at home, I spent the first half of the hallowed eve handing out candy to surly teens far too old to be out trick-or-treating (but far too scary to deny), and the second half wondering where my own surly too-old trick-or-treaters were. Being an empty nester makes Halloween a little easier to bear, but I still often spend the holiday at home with all the lights off watching creepy flicks on the booooob tube. (Note: Movie monsters are often much less frightening than some of the actual creepy people wandering my neighborhood.) While I may stay indoors, there are those of you who will bravely venture out. If you are going to paint the town blood red, here are some options to help you have one hell of a Halloween.

The Balcony Club celebrates this scariest of holidays all weekend with their annual costume contest on Saturday and Monday. Cover is only $5, the drink specials are marvelous and the prizes for best costume are even better: on Saturday, first place receives $300, second gets $200 and third place takes home $100. On Monday, first place dances away with $200 and second place gets $100 (no third place prize on Monday).

If The Big Easy is your favorite haunt, head on down for "Club Dred" on Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m., cover is only $10 and this party is for adults (18 and up) only. A plethora of live music to dance to includes Massive McGregor and the OC Allstars and live DJs. To-die-for drink specials, great giveaways and a costume contest with way cool prizes including concert tickets.

The Blue Eye Speakeasy is a new juke joint out in Nampa. On Friday and Saturday, the prizes up for grabs in their costume contest are some of the best. First place wins a bottle of Dom Perignon and dinner for two at House of Kim. Second place wins a $75 gift certificate to the Blue Eye and dinner for two at House of Kim. Third place wins ... you guessed it, dinner for two at House of Kim. Cover for the contest is only $5 if you're all dressed up and $10 if you're sans costume.

On Saturday, The Bouquet parades the "Halloween Freak Show" (which they mean in the nicest way possible). The live music is so great, it's almost scary. The line-up (in no particular order) includes Midline, PussyGutt, The PirkQlaters, The Treatment, The Mongoloids and Me & You. The giveaways, prizes and drink specials are kick-ass. Cover is only $5 and the festivities begin at 8 p.m.

If the idea of a Saturday soiree with Satan is right up your twisted little alley, get down to China Blue, Dirty Little Roddy's and the Main Street Bistro. The "Devil's Ball" promises to be a wicked good time with $2 cocktails from 8-10 p.m. and drink specials and prizes until the wee hours. Their costume contest offers $500 in cash prizes and the $15 cover gets you a wristband that allows you into all three clubs all night long.

Looking for something a little more hardcore? Head over to The Core. On Saturday, you can find yourself in the thick of the "Fifth Annual Noise In The Attic" party. Tearing it up are The October Tree, Evologic, Keeping Secrets, Kamphire Collective and a local DJ spinning heavy industrial sounds. For your added pleasure, there are contests and giveaways and the dancing Heaven and Hell girls. Ah, the best of both worlds. The fun is for adults only (18 and older) and starts at 9 p.m. Cover is $7 if you're too chicken to dress up and only $5 if you're dressed as a chicken (or in any other kind of costume). The holiday celebration continues on Sunday as Metal Maniacs magazine presents Exodus, 3 Inches of Blood, Crisis and Watch Them Die. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15 in advance or $18 on the day of the show.

Humpin Hannah's pulls out all the stops yet again with this year's Halloween bash. The Rocci Johnson band rocks at 9 p.m., but the games begin at 8 p.m. with apple-bobbing, the Monster Mash and "Hiding the Bone in the Skeleton." Game prizes include CD's, hats, T-shirts, super cool concert tickets and the ever-popular Essence of Romance toys. Over $1,000 in prizes and cash will be awarded during the costume contest and if your costume is cool enough, you get one free drink and will be invited up on stage to dance with the band. Before 8:30 p.m. there's no cover (!) and after 8:30 it's still only $5.

Climb up to The Loft on Saturday for their "Dance of the Dead" party. The super costume contest has super prizes with $200 cash for first place, $100 bar tab for second place (awesome) and a $50 bar tab for third. No cover until 2 a.m., and they have two happy hours every night: 5 to 7 p.m and 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. with drink and food specials.

"Boo Bash at the Bay" on Saturday is Montego Bay's extraordinary party. They have great live music with favorites The Rockafellas and a costume contest with over $1,500 in cash and prizes. First place wins $100, second wins $75 and third gets $50. There are also prizes for best couples' costume and most original costume. You can dance the night away or canoodle with your favorite monster as you take advantage of their great drink specials.

Neurolux offers a dark and scary place to be on Saturday with music by Okkervil River and The Very Hush Hush starting at 8 p.m. and a dance party with DJs Pat Benolkin (see Gig of the Week on page 24) and Derek Fritcher at 11 p.m. $100 will be given for best costume and there will be lots of other giveaways. Step inside before 9 p.m. in costume and pay nothing (maybe just a little of your soul), but walk in costumeless after the 9 o'clock hour and the price you'll pay is a little of your soul and $3.

Saturday, The Plank has tasty, terrific food and drink specials and karaoke. They also have a costume contest. Now, what would a place named The Plank think is the best costume ever? A pirate, of course! Put on your eye patch, stick a fake parrot on your shoulder and walk (to) the Plank. Aye, you're sure to have a good time, you scalawags.

Reef blows the straw roof off the house on Friday and Saturday starting at 9:30 p.m. with a mondo-cool Halloween party and live music from one of the most fun bands around, Uprite Dub Orchestra. UDO blends jazz, R&B, ska, funk, roots and reggae and brings it all together in an amazing way. With only a $5 cover and a tiki-torch party atmosphere, you may feel like you're somewhere on a beach, even if your dance partner is dressed like Dracula, the big-headed Burger King king or a ninja.

Terrapin Station lays down a stone cold groove with "Halloween Freakend." On Friday, there's live music with Frame of Mind and Voice of Reason takes the stage on Saturday. The fun starts at 9 p.m., cover is only $3 and costume contest winners will walk away (or stay right there at the bar) with big bar tab prizes. And, if you aren't a member of one of those two bands, you'll still get a chance at the mic with Halloween Open Mic night on Monday.

Tom Grainey's and J.T. Toad's will be joining in the Halloween fun with live music Friday and Saturday night. Vincent Vegas upstairs at Grainey's and Spindle Bomb downstairs at Toad's. make it a freakishly fabulous night. The party begins at 9 p.m., and a tiny little $4 cover gets you into both bars.

On Monday night, get yourself into costume and get to The Venue. The all ages show is live music from UK old-school punkers The Adicts (unbelievable!), The Diffs, Bang Sugar Bang and The Unloved. The show starts at 6 p.m. and a mere $12 gets you in the door.

No matter where you go, who you are (or who/what you're dressed up as) or what you do during the Halloween weekend, have fun and stay safe.

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