Whether or not you believe in vampires and witches, the city of New Orleans is filled with them.
I know because I spent my pre-Halloween weekend surrounded by both. On Friday night I attended the Anne Rice New Orleans Vampire Ball, a decadent and dimly-lit festival of enthusiasts dressed either as fanged bloodsuckers or buxom gothic maidens on the verge of death. Then, on Saturday night, I was privileged to be a guest at the first ever New Orleans Witches’ Ball, held in a beautiful and spooky mansion on St. Charles Avenue.
New Orleans’ vampire culture derives largely from the massive popularity of the supernatural fiction of author Anne Rice, who addressed the ball via pre-recorded video message. “New Orleans is the most divinely haunted city in the world,” she announced, provoking huge applause from the audience.
Attending two serious Halloween parties back to back was both exhilarating and thought-provoking. They were also totally different from one another. The vampires enjoy telling jokes and gawking at dark burlesque. They also have great taste in music. Meanwhile, the witches serve much better food and dress to the nines.
Never in my life have I seen people take Halloween so seriously, but then again, this is a religious holiday for many of them.
As one good witch counseled me, “Samhain night is when the dead and living are the closest. It is a time to reach out to your friends, past and present, and find resolutions for your problems.”