Take a bite out of time

The Vampire Ball is more Bela Lugosi than Bella Swan

The streets of Old Sacramento are no place for a girl in heels.

With each step, the rear of my platform pumps threaten to bury themselves in the hollow recesses of the wooden planked walkway, or some gap in between. The shoes alone make for a complex dance, and the added challenge finds me praying that enough club-going ladies have already rolled their ankles so as to leave the gods sated on this night. They oblige and I survive my journey from car to Crescent Club, under a crescent moon, for Sacramento’s third annual Vampire Ball.

I normally don’t get this gussied up, but it’s a fun, special occasion, and I love a good theme party. I custom-fit my teeth and black wig the night before, and aside from the red patent leather death traps on my feet, my clothes are monochromatic black. My friend Michelle informs me that it’s an unwritten rule of Goth to stay out at least as long as it took you to get ready, so based on the time spent on my eye makeup, we’ll be here well past the witching hour.

I fish out my ID—after a slight panic that I’d left it 500 torturous paces away in my car—and we descend into the basement-level club.

The year’s theme is “Dracula through the Ages,” and the attire reflects the more classic variety of the vampire. Groups of Victorian women sip wine in the tightest of corsets and the tiniest of hats, and Louies and Lestats dance macabre near the deejay booths. Dracula himself makes multiple appearances, in young and old form, first with a top hat and rounded glasses and then a white powdered wig and blood-red robe.

Gravestones are set for Twilight and True Blood characters, but Bram Stoker and Bella Lugosi own the night.

The venue itself couldn’t be better suited to the mood—the multi-chambered space with exposed brick walls makes for a dungeon of a dance club. There are pieces of dramatic velvet furniture in the corners and paintings and chandeliers hanging from the walls next to spider webs. I’d half expect a pipe organ to burst out an eerie refrain, if Joy Division wasn’t already blaring from the deejay’s sound system.

The bar offers a full selection of drinks, and lots of electric shades—Midori, blue curacao—make their way into plastic cups. Perhaps it’s the neon appeal. Marilyn Manson’s absinthe, Mansinthereally?—is poured with cold water over a sugar cube at $9 a glass. I order one, but to be honest, its name is a slight deal breaker for me. It’s the $9 however, that makes me finish it.

Outside in the mild October air, I ponder cinematic settings. The South has always been a popular locale for vampires—Louisiana in particular. I always figured it was the large estates and gardens and above-ground cemeteries. And the courtyards of Old Sac are a close fit for this New Orleans vibe, to be sure. But tonight, I’m wondering if it’s more like Miami for retirees, and the warmer weather is simply good for old, immortal joints, because something like 65 percent of the ball attendees are here on the patio, enjoying the Indian summer.

It’s fascinating people watching. And strangely, I don’t smell a single clove cigarette in the bunch.