I have always been very appreciative of the genre of horror that doesn’t settle for cheap scares and gore, but rather, fear of the unknown— mysterious masks and cults, strange figures and cities, and quiet gatherings that are right on the edge of plausibility.
This is what drew me to accepting an invitation for an event titled A Midsommar Night’s Dream: One Trip of a Party, at The McKittrick Hotel, home of Sleep No More. The look-book boasted images of individuals clad in white robes or floral embellishments, strange deer antlers or hellish bug masks, and even a rendition of the fungal zombies from The Last of Us. A strange party for stranger party-goers? I was in.
Every aspect of the hotel was completely converted into a magical forest, ancient ruin, or deep-city stomping ground.
The first floor was redone to resemble a subterranean rock venue, with a live band and pole dancers adjacent to a well-stocked bar.
Attendees had come clad in the most unique outfits imaginable, with antlers and horns making a prominent appearance, large swaths of flowers and embroidery, and several people even adorning their heads with fake animal heads, like ravens and lions. I instantly got the feeling that I was peeking into an event that I did not belong to— some billionaire’s secret guilty pleasure, or a north-European pagan ritual.
It felt like the crowd would suddenly begin conducting a human sacrifice, and if they did, I would only be half surprised (the half that still remembered that I had been invited to this event, like everyone else here).
The second floor was even more unique. The most prominent feature was a single porcelain bathtub, right in the center of the room. Attendees flocked for the photo opportunity, and I was surprised to see it was functional; a woman got soaked with water as she turned the faucet and a jet of water shot out.
Otherwise, the floor was decorated with lines of dilapidated brick wall separating the rooms, making it look like I was in an old worn-down courtyard. There was a male dancer wearing a donkey mask shaking his hips on an elevated stage, and an area that allowed attendees to make their own floral wreaths and head covers. Another room had a single ominous baby carriage, illuminated by a deep orange light.
Excited to see what the third floor had in store for me, I climbed the stairs.
The third floor was absolutely mental. I walked into a crowded rave, with dozens of people dancing erratically to deep thumping music and constant strobe lights. Even now, I can only recall faint glimpses of that room; simple snapshots only because I was unable to focus on any single thing there for longer than a breath. I slipped into a trance-like state, and I do not even remember how long I spent there. It could have been second, or it could have been an hour.
When I finally left the third floor, I stepped into the exclusive Oz’s Boudoir VIP bar. It overlooked a large club-type setting, with a mix of indie-EDM and classic rock-pop hits blaring over the speakers.
At the bar, I ordered a fresh cranberry-pineapple vodka, and watched as several people jumped onto a full king-sized bed that was placed right besides the bar.
It felt like something straight from a dream, and I really took a moment to appreciate the craft of those that had put together a place like this; they had gone into the mind and retrieved every small whim or fear that resided on the edge of an individual’s thoughts, and had materialized it.
These people lived regular lives, and worked at regular jobs, but on this night, they could let loose the psychedelic animal within and let it howl.
I greatly enjoyed my experience at The McKittrick, and am excited to see what Sleep No More hits us with next.