by Sean Taylor
. . . a place too strange for anyone to be a stranger
In the back of The Cat Club Abraham Lincoln is dancing with Jackie Kennedy. Can you see the ghosts in this place? Abe removes his tall hat revealing a star that flashes in red, white, and blue strobes. In 2016 on Folsom Street, 1860 meets 1960.
The Haunted Hourglass, the official title for tonight’s event, could be any number of things. It could be a teaser for January’s Edwardian Ball and World’s Faire. It could be an initiation or recruiting tool for new Edwardians. It could be an excuse to wrestle with every great fashion of the never forgotten past this culture so revels in.
At the bar, knights are saddling up with pirates; Egyptian Pharaohs are taking shots with Roman Emperors. It is endlessly important to note these are not dime store hand me downs. They are not last minute twenty dollar costumes in a bag. They are twenty-four carat, almost garish, and yet perfectly morbid considering the festivities.
The biggest complaint I’m hearing tonight is this place is too small and these costumes are too good. Don’t waste your time in a wax museum — come to San Francisco and get to know the Edwardian crowd. Our costume balls are living wax museums.
Paradox Media and Rosin Coven chose the Cat Club as an homage to the humble beginnings of The Edwardian Ball. It is, after all, where everything began so long ago. Tonight is their first ever (damn well better not be their last) Halloween event, and the first of seven events that make up their oncoming “Edwardian season.”
Dark Garden Corset and Couture models line the walls, holding carved-in-stone poses. The tiniest and most genuine smiles spark an itching twitch where their lips end and cheeks begin. The ghost of a man that sank with the Titanic does a dance move I’m calling the swim, then the chill, his beard frosted white in ice, his face aghast and properly dreary.
There is something they don’t print on the tickets to these events. Some may call it a fringe benefit, some may call it the main event: it’s this unbridled camaraderie. For all the strangeness in this club, nobody feels like a stranger. I have to wonder if we must disguise a part of ourselves to open up. Perhaps we are hiding what makes us hide, wearing bold to be bold.
Rosin Coven rock the crowd like town criers midway through the venue with the most energy on the smallest stage. The exposed brick walls on both sides seemingly transport us to a dystopian back-alley block-party. This is my kind of haunted.
“Are you feeling deliciously ghastly tonight?” they yell mid song.
From every angle, this underworld is almost-everything-goes:
It is an art gallery of beautifully distressed merit.
It is a priceless vessel that we carry into the freedom of obscurities.
It is a bold place too strange for anyone to be a stranger.