Metro Weekly

DC Halloween Highlights: The best LGBTQ-inclusive parties and costume contests

Our picks of the best LGBTQ nightlife in the D.C. area this week!

17th Street High Heel Race — Photo: Todd Franson

This year, Halloween haunts area bars and clubs for a whole week and two weekends. And this weekend, almost a full week before the actual holiday, all manner of spirits will be conjured and imbibed, for the sake of tricks and treats and other prizes.

Things start off Thursday, Oct. 24, with a contest for the best squash slasher in town, a la the Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest at the DC Eagle, where the winner earns a $50 bar tab and all pumpkin carvers as well as folks in gear pay just $4 per rail cocktail or domestic beer (plus a $5 cover). Another treat: Stephen Raw and Yah Jil dancing on the box.

The week of costume contests galore kicks off on Friday, Oct. 25, at the Green Lantern, with the Kicks & Giggles party, which is expressly “openly welcome [to] those of all genders and body types,” whether you “come as you are or rock a rad costume.” Still, it pays to dress up, with a $250 prize to the best dressed at the party, featuring DJs Phil Reese and Ben Norman. Friday also offers the Queer Halloween Costume Dance Party organized by Swazz Events ( at Brookland’s Smith Public Trust (3514 12th St. NE). Dance to “creepy musical hits” while “projections of ghosts, monsters, and sexy queers” haunt the walls. Cover is $15 and the party starts at 9 p.m., with contest and prizes at 12:30 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 26, ushers in a whole host of parties for the most spirited holiday revelers among us. In Silver Spring, All Set Restaurant & Bar kicks the day into high gear with a Halloween Drag Brunch featuring the Haus of Stone queens and DJ Dreama. They’ll be serving unlimited small plates ($35 per person, plus $25 for all-you-can-drink), plus a costume contest at 1 p.m. earning the top three entrants All Set gift cards in amounts from $20 to $50.

The evening starts for many with the Dupont Social Club’s 32nd Annual Miss Adams Morgan pageant at the Washington Hilton, with doors opening at 6 p.m. Following that comes the pageant’s official afterparty, “Broken Heel” at the Duplex Diner, which will serve up “Spooky Squeeze Specials” for the occasion. Cover is $10. At midnight, Number Nine offers a costume contest worth $500 in cash and prizes and hosted by KC B. Yoncé as part of a Halloween Saturday event with VJs BacK2bACk and $5 Absolut and Bulleit Bourbon drinks starting at 9 p.m. At 1 a.m., Trade presents a costume contest with a $250 prize as part of its Hallo-QWERTY, featuring DJs Jeff Prior, Dvonne, and Khelan Bhatia, plus a performance by KaMani Sutra. At A League of Her Own and Pitchers, patrons dressed in costume might get a free drink — and even better, a $50 bar tab — from a bartender per the complex’s Bartenders’ Pick costume competition. Saturday is also a “night to celebrate with your coven” — specifically, The Coven and the women-centric Queer Horror party at Satellite Room (2047 9th St. NW) starting at 10 p.m., with free entry before 11 p.m. — albeit “only if you are in costume” — plus a cash prize for best costume, and dancing all night to DJ Honey.

Southwest’s entertainment complex Ziegfeld’s/Secrets becomes, fittingly, a “Sinners’ Sanctuary” ($10 before midnight), complete with Ella Fitzgerald and her “Wickedly Witchy Drag Show” downstairs and extremely wicked boys upstairs. Music by special guest DJ Steve Sidewalk and resident DJ Don T, and a contest at 12:30 a.m. offering cash prizes for the top three costumes. Avalon Saturdays at Soundcheck takes a gamble with “Jokers Gone Wild” ($20 to $25) featuring DJ Isis Muretech from Mexico and a drag show hosted by Ba’Naka, plus a live performance by Maddelynn Hatter from Season 3 of Dragula. The party, a benefit for mental health awareness and Cherry’s Barry Smythers Fund, kicks off at 9 p.m. for those ages 18 and up, with $4 Absolut drinks poured from 10 p.m. to midnight, and a costume contest at 11 p.m. offering the top three entrants over $2,000 in cash and prizes.

Those HellBent on hitting the latest iteration of the 9:30 Club‘s popular LGBTQ party ($20) will be rewarded with music from DJs Lemz, Jacq Jill, Ed Bailey, and Damn Kham, and performances by Ana Latour, Betty O’Hellno, Sasha Adams, Haus of Bambi, and the evening’s host, Pussy Noir, plus visuals by Ben Carver.

Meanwhile, the DC Eagle plays host to Meso Creso’s “Galaxy Unknown,” a non-LGBTQ-exclusive event ($35 to $50) spread out over five spaces and featuring more than 50 DJs, artists, and performers in various genres, led by the evening’s drag queen emcee Vagenesis, plus burlesque artists Bebe Bardot, Ganja Kitty, and Queen Nerfetittie, the latter also a Pyroxotic flame-thrower.

Number Nine is angling to be a go-to spot in between all the Hallo-week hijinks, chiefly by luring guests in Monday, Oct. 28, for its Hocus Pocus Viewing Party hosted by Ba’Naka and starting at 9 p.m. The next night — when everyone converges on 17th Street for the annual High Heel Race, kicking off at 9 p.m. — the swanky Logan Circle venue offers a party with VJ Sean McClafferty. Not to be outdone, Trade, Number Nine’s sister pub, offers “The Official Unofficial High Heel Race After Party” with host Summer Camp and performances by Pussy Noir, Sylvanna Duvel, and Logan Stone.

17th Street High Heel Race — Photo: Ward Morrison

If you can’t wait to get to the actual holiday or a second weekend of revelry, Nellie’s offers one All Hallows’ Eve Eve attraction: the Absolutely Snatched Drag Show hosted by Brooklyn Heights, with a costume contest offering a $1,000 grand prize at 11 p.m. plus drink specials all night. Also on Wednesday, Oct. 30, Silver Spring’s LGBTQ-owned Denizens Brewing Co. (1115 East-West Highway) presents a Halloween Drag Show starting at 8 p.m. featuring Haus of Stone queens Vagenesis, Logan Stone, Venus Valhalla, and Citrine.

You could return to Nellie’s on Halloween night for the Disco of Dread party with Lemz serving as DJ and a costume contest at 10 p.m., with prizes including a $200 grand prize, and a $100 and $50 gift card for the two runners up. The night also offers a special Halloween Drag Show at Pitchers starting at 11 p.m., with dancing until 1:30 a.m.

Farther afield, the holiday gives reason for Ziegfeld’s/Secrets to open its doors for a rare Thursday outing with “Horror at Half Street” ($5), including “Kristina Kelly’s Drag Spooktacular,” music by DJ Don T, a costume contest with cash prizes at 11:30 p.m., and naturally all-nude male dancers upstairs. There’s also the “Halloween Sing-A-Long” ($5) at the DC Eagle, with screenings of Nightmare Before Christmas at 8:30 p.m., Rocky Horror Picture Show at 10 p.m., and Little Shop of Horrors at midnight. A $50 tab will go to the best-dressed guest inspired by each classic film, as well as one Best Overall Costume winner, while everyone else in gear or costume gets rail drinks or domestic beer for $4.

Other attractions on All Hallows’ Eve: the Puddles Pity Party ($40) and Halloween Costume Contest (earning the best dressed a pair of tickets to a future show), plus special guest Dina Martina, at the Lincoln Theatre; a Tricks & Treats Drag Show and Costume Contest (with a $150 prize) hosted by Kristina Kelly and featuring DJ Jill at Shaw’s Tavern, which is also offering half-priced bottles of wine; “Halloween with Cher” — that is, sharp Cher impersonator Steven Andrade, who performs at 8 p.m. at Freddie’s; Church’s KULT, a party hosted by JaxKnife Complex with performances by JaxKnife and Kunj and music by WesstheDJ and The Barber Streisand, starting at 10 p.m. at Trade; and “U Hell” ($20) featuring DJs Weiss with Kai b2b Khalifeh and Colin Jeske, plus a costume contest at midnight, at U Street Music Hall.

Festivities ramp back up the very next night with more Halloween parties as well as others nodding to the Day of the Dead. But that’s a list for another week.

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