Oh, Evaline – the party of legend – and Pittsburgh’s most anticipated Halloween bash of the year is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012. What began as a small gathering of friends has transformed into a to-do of epic proportions. Each year, the event’s organizers spend countless hours, planning months well in advance, to throw a memorable party that’s neither over-hyped nor understated – it is what it is – a memorable, highly-anticipated feast for the senses. Whether you’re a veteran or Evaline virgin, it’s hard to live in this city without having heard of this Bloomfield institution. We had a chance to talk with Greg and Dereck, two of Evaline’s organizers, about the evolution of this grand occasion and some of their favorite moments. If you make it to the end, we might just reward you with a giveaway!
Kymbo Slice: Evaline is entering its 20th year – how has your team learned from previous experiences and what role do you play in the planning/execution of the event?
Greg: I serve as the managing director for the event, but make no mistake, anyone who is part of the inner sanctum of the Evaline wears many hats …and gloves. No job is off limits. One of the reasons the event has succeeded up to this point is that we – those that have given our time and lifeblood to make the event happen over the last 20 years – have done so out of the love and thrill of doing it. How have we learned from previous experiences? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure we have. My guess is we have gotten smarter about logistical things but without sounding too self-effacing, we always find ourselves in a “whirlwind” to get the event open on time. With regard to the theme, we start from ground zero – changing, transforming, inventing in order to bring the theme to light in the best possible way and within the time allotted to do so.
Dereck: And each year helps us learn more about how to facilitate the delivery of food and beverage to our guests and how to make the entry process as smooth as possible.
KS: How has the party grown from its early stages to what it is now?
Dereck: The party started as a small gathering of about 20 friends in an empty house and included an actual taxidermy monkey as its centerpiece! (CREEPY!)
Greg: It was just a social gathering for friends, most of whom were in the arts community and had a real appreciation for the perspective and detail we put into the physical representation of the theme. As the years went by, our friends brought friends and the number of patrons grew and grew. Eventually, one October day about ten years ago, I was back in town to help build the event. I was on South Craig Street and struck up a conversation with this young man. As we parted he asked – “hey, by the way….are you going to that cool Halloween thing in Bloomfield ?” I thought… “Wow…This is the best”…my hands were swollen, somewhat bloody from the mis-guided hammer swings, my fingers melted together from all the hot glue, and suddenly it was all worth it, and for reasons I hadn’t really considered. The minute he asked the question I knew the event had become something bigger, and that this young guy who was obviously excited about attending had taken as much ownership for the event as I did. In essence, it had become a “not to be missed” occasion. We still feel it’s a gathering for friends and like-minded individuals who will appreciate the fauna, just that now the list of friends is much larger.
KS: Do you think you’ll ever grow tired of producing the event? Do you have another generation of party-throwers lined up to eventually take the reigns?
Dereck: Over the years many people have stepped in to help manage and produce. As long as creative people are available and willing so are we!
Greg: In truth, we grow tired each year. As the the event has grown, so has the amount of time, organization, the resources, the funding required to make it happen. Do we have another generation to take over …are you offering??
KS: How do you go about choosing a theme each year? Are there any years in particular that stick out or are personal favorites of yours?
Dereck: The theme is tied to actual events happening in that particular year. This year, 2012 THE END OF EVERYTHING, is linked to the end of the current cycle of the Mayan calendar and also the recent Mars landing.
Greg: Ideas, themes, etc. are kicked about for several months until the right idea lands. This idea needs to settle in and touch down sometime in August or else there is not enough time to organize, create and fulfill the theme. I thought we had a great carry through with “Coney Island Evaline” a few years back. I liked “Journey to the Center of the Evaline” which included a very large weather balloon on a tether. The balloon eventually carried GI JOE off to Finland. I enjoyed building the “Clown Bar”. It included the decapitated heads of some of the world’s most famous clowns. These entertainers sacrificed much to be there. Can’t remember the theme from that year, though. I have favorites in terms of the installations, for instance, the year we did “World War Evaline” Chris Potocki and “Chief” Dave Ruben mastered the basement with an underground cabaret that featured cross-dressing comedian musicians who were wonderfully funny and extremely insulting. Right next to all the mirth and frivolity was a life-size, life-like recreation of the Adolf Hitler/Eva Braun suicide inside the bunker, complete with a freshly spattered wall of blood. I thought that was well done.
KS: What does the future hold in store for Evaline?
Dereck: Following the impending destruction of the earth in December of 2012, the Evaline plans to continue its tradition of Halloween parties on the surface of Mars where a small contingent of Terran settlers will establish an outpost that holds the last vestiges of humanity!
If you’re as excited for this year’s apocalyptic theme as we are, you’re in luck. Follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this year’s bash, which takes place on Saturday, October 27 and carries on into the wee hours of Sunday morning. For details on buying tickets, follow Evaline’s Facebook page. $40 includes early entry at 9PM and all the food and drink your tummy can fit.
a Rafflecopter giveaway