NEW YORK, NY—A spectacular event—the last of its kind—was hosted by impresario and fangmaster Fr. Sebastiaan on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, at Slake (formerly Downtime at the Batcave) calling itself the 20th anniversary of the annual “Anti-Valentine’s Vampire Ball”—up to now a regular, recurring event.
Gatekeeper Victor Magnus, prolific writer on various dark subjects, and celebrity co-host greeted the 400 or so revelers who attended the occasion—newcomers as well as habitual, perennial attendees. Impresario Fr. Sebastiaan van Houten has been hosting Goth and vampire-themed events going back to 1997, at which time they were termed “Long Black Veil” nights, and originated at the famous Mother club in Manhattan’s Meat-Packing district. His skill at crafting wearable, vampire-like fangs under the auspices of Sabretooth, the association he founded, placed him at the pinnacle of the metropolitan vampire fan community that had been growing alongside New York’s dark music scene. When Mother closed in 2000, he moved his events, first to Club True, then to Rare, the Bank, Drom and most recently to Jekyll & Hyde. Presently he hosts too many events and club nights—in the U.S. and various cities in Europe—to catalogue for this report.
Belly dancing, striptease and even lyric opera performances provided the entertainment interludes for the evening. Since there is a strict dress code (vampire, steampunk, fetish or all-black), and since many of the more imaginative and exhibitionistic guests far exceed the standard, there were, as always, two costume contests, one for women and one for men. The two winners were awarded tickets to the Vampire Ball in New Orleans this upcoming Halloween. Besides presiding, along with some of his inner circle at the costume judging contests, Fr. Sebastiaan took ample opportunity to address the crowd, warmly expressing appreciation for their attendance and support. He led the audience of devotees in the ritual howl, by which all paid homage to some departed members of the Sabretooth Clan.
Music was provided throughout the three-story Slake. On the main, ground floor spinning was by DJs Aengel, V Christ and Xris Smack. Up on the third floor was the uncomfortably chilly Red Room where Sean Templar and Jeffo played a different selection of the classic Goth. Skinny Puppy, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Bowie got ample airing in both dance areas, and alternated with U2, the Psychedelic Furs, Ministry and Dead Can Dance and more.
Fr. Sebastiaan announced that this would be the last ever Anti-Valentine’s Vampire Ball he would host in NYC, having made arrangements to move to San Francisco, where he intends to become involved in similar events. So all good things must eventually come to an end. This last entry in the 20-year series provided a joyful grand finale for all who attended and participated.