The creation of new Halloween pop-up bar Black Lagoon, like all good ideas, was organic. At Tales of the Cocktail in 2019, Erin Hayes (Three Dots and a Dash and the now closed Lost Lake) and Kelsey Ramage (Trash Collective) simply wanted to throw a party in the French Quarter to escape the chaos of the annual cocktail convention. Ironically, The Dungeon, a 50-plus-year-old dive bar, was their oasis. “It’s an incredible metal bar that is dungeon themed,” said Hayes. “And it’s just unlike anywhere else in the Quarter. Very much our vibe, plays our type of music, and it’s a great place to go unwind.”
Resonating With the “Strange and Unusual”
Their wildly successful bash made them realize their idea for a Halloween pop-up with a Dungeon-inspired soundtrack had legs. And for their first pop-up effort in Toronto in October 2021, they were able to draw hordes even without publicity. “We had lines wrapped around the block every night of the week,” Hayes said. “People just loved it, enjoyed it, had a great time and enjoyed the cocktails and told all of their friends, which was amazing.”
This year Black Lagoon is hitting the road, touring U.S. cities that were handpicked for their strong counterculture scene and cocktail community. “We wanted to work in communities where there were cocktail enthusiasts and people that would be excited about drinking Kelsey’s and my cocktails for this celebration of Halloween and everything kind of horror macabre,” Hayes explained.
Playlists for Innately Dark Feelings
And for a soundtrack, instead of monster mash hits such as those that usually get radio airplay this time of year, Black Lagoon’s music stays very true to its Dungeon origins, featuring the likes of Black Sabbath and Pantera. However, merely one playlist wouldn’t do. Hayes created a playlist for the start, middle, and end of the night, as well as a party playlist and a best-of list.
Early: “The early playlist is more vibey. There’s some rockabilly/psychobilly music, like the Cramps and HorrorPops. There’s a bit more goth rock, like Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative. And then a little bit of the more melodic metal.”Mid: “I like to call the mid playlist, the ‘Ladies of Metal’ because there are a lot of women-fronted bands, which is really fun.”Late: “The late-night playlist is definitely the heaviest. And I think that that’s for the nights when you have the real metalheads in the building.”Party: “[It’s] hilarious to put together a playlist that’s for parties that has Slipknot and Deftones. So we’ve got that one that’s more designed for those Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights when people are out to have a real good time party.”Only the Hits: “It’s a work in progress. It’s so hard to stop adding music because this is the music that I listen to. So I am always like, oh, what about that song? What about that song?”
For a song to make it onto any of the lists, Hayes says, “It has to have that innate dark feeling.” It doesn’t have to be of the goth genre as even rockabilly tracks can evoke that broodiness. “‘Cry Little Sister’ from Lost Boys,” she says, “that song is not necessarily goth in nature, but it’s reminiscent of that movie, which is reminiscent of a time and a feeling.”
All Are Welcome
Next year, Hayes and Ramage are planning to bring their Halloween metal vibes to 25 cities around the world, even though it’s a holiday that’s even less celebrated internationally than Christmas. “We just want this to be a safe and inclusive community space for everyone,” Hayes said. “This is a pop-up for the weird. This is a pop-up for the folks that feel like cocktail bar experiences might not be so welcoming to them. We want this to be the cocktail bar experience that makes them feel super welcome.”