If you had a hard time picking out a costume for Halloween, get ready to make another difficult decision: where to go. This year, D.C.'s many gay establishments have plenty of tricks and treats up their sleeves. With lots of costume parties, prizes and drink specials, it's up to you to find the perfect fit, and decide on what you're going to do for one of the biggest nights of the year.Joey O, promoter of Apex, says he is much more concerned with decorating a stage that will feature performances by Kristina Kelly and Lena Lett than the rest of the club, for its annual ''Ultimate Halloween Bash.'' The event kicks off at 10:30 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 28. Audience members will decide with their cheers and screams who wins the treats, including $300 in cash and other giveaways during the club's best-costume contest.
''B: Scary'' is the title and theme for this weekend's festivities at Be Bar. Wear a costume and get in for free on Friday and Saturday nights. Owner and promoter Mike Watson is keeping a tight lid on the bar's plans. ''I don't want to spoil it, but I can tell you that we have some tricks with some really big treats,'' he says. Red Bull and Bacardi are the sponsors for the events, which feature DJ Darryl Strickland spinning ''Blast from the Past,'' music from the '80s and '90s. DJ Anthem takes over on Saturday along with Detroit DJ Jace. Watson says there is no official costume party, but there will be some prizes, including movie and CD giveaways.
Cobalt presents ''Scareaoke,'' on Sunday, Oct. 29, with no cover charge to get in, incorporating the bar's annual Halloween costume contest and party with its weekly karaoke night. Jezzibell Bottoms hosts the event. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and the costume contest, based on audience applause, kicks off at midnight. Jason Royce, Cobalt's assistant manager, promoter and DJ, hopes people will get creative on Halloween night, when the bar hosts its weekly retro night. ''We don't have anything special planned,'' says Royce, ''although we would love to see some people come out in retro costumes.''
There are three chances to win a costume contest at the D.C. Eagle's 38th annual Leather Sabbat, the leather bar's Halloween bash at 9 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 28. Revelers can participate in Best Western, Best Leather and Best Original costume contests. Each winner receives $100. And you don't have to be into leather to take part. D.C. Eagle owner Bill Cappello says some of the more memorable costumes from previous years include his favorite ''Spongebob No Pants,'' and ''Cruella DeVille'' with her two boy puppies. Cappello says the event also serves as a fundraiser for three different leather groups: D.C. Bears, Highwaymen and Potomac Motorcycle Club, who will give part of the money to various charities.
See pics from the 2005 Halloween Weekend
If the giant purple spider on Freddie's Beach Bar rooftop is any indication, there is a lot going on inside the cozy restaurant. ''We're always over the top for Halloween,'' says Freddie Lutz. He's not kidding. The restaurant's ''Halloween Drag Extravaganza,'' starts at 9 p.m., on Sunday, Oct. 29, followed by a Halloween version of the all-drag ''Trivia Show,'' on Monday, Oct. 30. The events climax to Tuesday's ''Scary-Okie'' -- a horrific karaoke experience in which you don't know what song you're going to sing until you're up on stage. ''We're famous for our Halloween events,'' says Ray Martin Couch, operations manager at the Northern Virginia gay bar and restaurant. ''Normally we've sold tickets for $40 on Halloween night, but this year we're doing these three events with no cover charge.''
An alternative to the area's costume contests is the Fireplace featuring ''The Monster Mash'' shots for $1 between 8 and 11 p.m., on Halloween night, Tuesday, Oct. 31, and the Absolut Special -- any Absolut flavor or drink for $2. ''We're a neighborhood bar,'' says Fireplace manager Jerry Griswell. ''We don't throw parties per se, but those in costumes will get special treatment.''
At Fuego, it's ''Noche de Brujas,'' which means ''the night of witches'' in Spanish, on Saturday, Oct. 28, featuring a costume contest with a $400 prize. The Halloween-themed drag show starts at 10 p.m. DJ Hector says it's the club's busiest night of the year and Phillip Doyle, who will grace guests in his drag persona, La Marquesa, agrees. ''Get ready to dance your ass off,'' he says. Admission is $8 before 11 p.m., $10 thereafter.
The employees at the Green Lantern are going to get their lashes on for the ''Employee Turnabout Show,'' on Friday, Oct. 27, as they don drag and give patrons more than just drinks. The bar's costume contest follows on Saturday, Oct. 28, which will have the audience cheering for their favorite 20 contestants, who will then be narrowed down to first, second and third place. Prizes include: $100 in cash and $100 tab for first place, $50 in cash and $50 tab for second place, and $25 cash and $25 tab for third place.
For those planning a scary getaway to Baltimore, The Hippo has lots of treats -- $1,500 to be exact. Erica Meadows kicks off the Halloween weekend on Friday, Oct. 27, with the ''Night of the G.O.D.S (Good Ole Drag Show).'' On Tuesday, Oct. 31, Charm City's gay club is giving away $1,500 in prizes: $500 for best overall costume, $500 for best group, $250 for best celebrity look-alike and $250 for the funniest costume. Bartender and manager Gary Keene says each of the various bars within the club have a theme. Though he wouldn't dish out what each bar is doing this year, Keene says last year the Salon took on a Tarzan/jungle theme. ''Everybody comes here because they want to see the costumes,'' Keene says. ''We have police officers that pull up out front, and they're not here for security -- they just come to see all the costumes.''
On Halloween night, JR.'s hosts a costume party with a $250 prize. And there's no admission charge to Omega's ''Annual Halloween Contest,'' which starts at 10:30 p.m., and includes a $200 prize for best costume, to be judged by the audience. Talulha hosts the event with Stevie Starfyre and music by Joey O.
El Sayed Mansour, of 1409 Playbill Café, says the café doesn't have anything special planned for Halloween, but notes that patrons wearing costumes on Oct. 31 are entitled to one free drink. Meanwhile, it's free admission to Phase 1's Halloween party on Tuesday, Oct. 31, with a $100 cash prize and lots of treats: $3 Miller Lights, $3.50 Coronas and $2 shooters.
People who don't want to get dressed up can dress down for Ramrod's weekly ''Bears Gone Wild'' event on Friday, and Saturday night's ''Get Shafted Leather Levi Night'' events. ''Saturday night is an alternative to other locations in town,'' says owner Glen Mlaker. ''It's for people who don't want to get dressed up.'' The first 300 people in the door on Saturday will receive a free, black Ramrod tank top. On Tuesday, Mlaker says the Dakota Cowgirl staff will dress up and patrons will be asked to vote for their favorite.
If you're going to Remington's on Friday night for the bar's ''Barnyard Boo,'' make sure to sign up for the costume contest by 11 p.m. to be considered for the contest's $350 prize. Remington's promoter Jay Ferguson says patrons should expect to see black lights, ghosts and spider webs all over the bar.