Northampton Zombie Pubcrawl: an unofficial and undead review
On Saturday, Oct. 22, zombies, or people dressed like zombies, overtook the bars in Northampton. A horde of nearly 1,000 zombies were participating in the annual Zombie Pubcrawl, shambling between six of Northampton’s drinking and dining establishments: Sam’s Pizza, Toasted Owl, Platform, Hugo’s, Diva’s Nightclub and the World War II Club.
For this special investigation, we disguised ourselves as zombies and mingled amongst the decomposing mob. We heard tales of the origins of the undead, drank zombie blood and even summoned a ghost. Now, for you, the curious commoner, the aspiring reanimator, the occasional occultist, we submit an unofficial review.
Toasted Owl Tavern
Chad: When we first got off the bus in Northampton, I wasn’t entirely sure we were in the right place.
Mad: I pointed out four different zombies to you right off the bus, including a guy with an arrow sticking out of his stomach. Then there were the two girls who crossed in front of us covered in fake blood, and the nurse zombie walking right in front of us, to the same bar, with a bloody handprint on her pants, but you didn’t notice any of them.
Chad: It was dark. I noticed once we got into the Twisted Owl.
Mad: To be honest, I was a little nervous myself on the bus that we would be the only ones dressed up, but once at the Toasted Owl, we were surrounded by zombies who went all out with ridiculously intricate costumes. I realized that my quickly applied black eyeshadow was not up to par.
Chad: People really did put a lot of effort into their costumes. I felt inadequate with my dirt/makeup combo.
Mad: Looking around the bar, there were your regular ol’ zombies, basketball player zombies, chef zombies, cowboy zombies, and my personal favorite, Mona Lisa zombie with her zombie painter.
Chad: Even the guy who came to the bar without a costume was covered in fake blood by the time we arrived. That or he was bitten.
Mad: Well that was one of the great things about the zombie community – regardless of how undead you looked, people were very welcoming. We did add some red lipstick “cuts” on our necks in the middle of the bar to fit in more.
Chad: I forgot we did that literally in the middle of the bar.
Mad: The bartenders went all out with their costumes as well. The three of them were really effectively managing the large crowd, and were super friendly, despite the fact that they didn’t have any Halloween themed drinks.
Chad: The bar itself was fairly large, though the crowd was larger on this particular night. They had a good selection of beers on tap at reasonable prices.
Mad: It’s important to mention that the designated hours for this bar were from 7 to 8 p.m. so most people who were there were older than the college-age crowd.
Chad: The earlier bars did draw an older crowd than I had expected but that didn’t stop them from making some great zombie costumes. In fact, I thought some of them were better than the ones the younger zombies wore.
Mad: Oh, I definitely think that the majority of those costumes were more impressive. Did you notice that the zombies didn’t all move together to the next bar? It wasn’t like the zombie apocalypse I’d always dreamed of where everyone travels en masse.
Chad: Well, despite their diet, zombies are not a hive mind. There is no rigid zombie schedule.
Mad: I think it was more that there was no zombie leader. They followed the schedule posted on the Facebook event, more or less, but there was no zombie king or queen initiating it.
Chad: Zombies are an egalitarian society, they have no need for leaders of subjects. There is only the good of the collective and the collective was everywhere. Including at our next stop, Platform.
Mad: I got excited walking up to Platform because you could see inside of the bar. All of the zombies in line were very chatty, and we were all admiring the white cloth laden tables with fancy cheese fondue fountains on top.
Chad: Then, in reality, we all got crowded into a dark sports bar.
Mad: True, once we actually got inside there was a closed door to the right for the private event with fondue and then all of the zombies gathered in the bar area to the left.
Chad: I think we saw some of the most convincing zombies at Platform. All walks of undead life were represented, like zombie clowns.
Mad: And a zombie Ronald McDonald, specifically.
Chad: Zombie presidential candidate, zombie park ranger, zombie pirate, zombie Luigi, zombie army, zombie bride, zombie priest.
Mad: Didn’t he get kicked out of the private event after venturing to the fancy side?
Chad: Yes, and he didn’t even get any fondue.
Mad: He was the brave zombie leader we deserved.
Chad: The one thing I will say is that Platform was the most expensive place we went to.
Mad: Incredibly expensive, but probably less than everyone spent on their zombie costumes.
Chad: I don’t know, I economized by using actual dirt for my costume. As a result, I could afford an extra tequila shot.
Mad: I was disappointed that they didn’t have any Halloween drinks though.
Chad: To be fair, most of the places we visited didn’t. The only bar that had one ready to go was Hugo’s.
Mad: By the time we got to Hugo’s, I felt like we had some zombie camaraderie going on. We walked in and immediately recognized a small zombie cohort who we’d talked to in line at Platform.
Chad: Were they the ones that recommended we try the “Zombie Black Heart” Jell-o shots?
Mad: No. But we did take the shots with them. And we toasted to zombies.
Chad: What did you think of them?
Mad: I personally love black licorice. It reminded me of the Greek liquor, Ouzo, but in Jell-O form, so I was a happy camper zombie. Plus, I was just happy to be in a bar that had themed Halloween drinks, and these shots were only a dollar each.
Chad: I honestly don’t care for Jell-O in general, and licorice is genuinely horrifying.
Mad: I respect your opinion, and that I got to finish the rest of your shot.
Chad: Their other themed drink, the “Zombie Blood Cocktail,” was really good though.
Mad: It was pretty good. It was red and sweet, and when I asked the bartender what was in it, she muttered out something along the lines of Sprite, Gin, and cran. Then she gave up, pointed to the only other bartender there, and said, “It’s a secret, and she’s taking it to her grave.”
Chad: I wish she was dressed as a zombie. It would have set me up for a really great undead joke.
Mad: We could have said, “You’ve already been to the grave and back.”
Chad: Yeah, like that, but better.
Mad: Overall Hugo’s was the smallest place we went to, and the 75 person maximum was a little bit of a pain for some people who had to wait outside, but I really liked the laid back atmosphere.
Chad: Hugo’s was honestly my favorite bar of the night. It was a great change of pace from the expensiveness of Platform. It was a small, cozy bar with cheap but good drinks.
Mad: And pool tables.
Chad: Which we never got to use.
Mad: After not using the pool tables, we left Hugo’s, sat on a porch swing, you almost got hit by a car, and then we went to Diva’s. The best part of that was that I saw the driver and ran, and you just kept walking.
Chad: I looked right at him, I thought he would slow down.
Mad: Which proves that I would last longer in a zombie apocalypse than you.
Chad: My plan for a zombie apocalypse is to deck myself out in the nicest equipment I can find, get bitten and be the best zombie. If the world’s going to end, I’m going to be on the winning team.
Chad: The line for Diva’s was probably the longest of the night, especially since you forgot to bring a jacket.
Mad: Sorry about that, and thanks for sharing. It was worth it though since Diva’s is closing this week.
Chad: That is too bad. Once we got inside, we went up to the bar to see if they had a Halloween themed drink.
Mad: They didn’t, but this did lead to the cutest part of the night. The bartender offered to create a Halloween-themed drink for us, asking us how sweet we like our drinks, how bitter, etc. She ended up throwing together a light blue cocktail that had blue curacao, club soda and a mystery third ingredient.
Chad: It had a pale blue look with no distinct smell. I thought it was great that the bartender was able to come up with a unique drink on the spot like that.
Mad: After taste testing it, I asked her what the name was and she asked what it tasted like. The first thing that popped into my mind was “The Ghost” because of its slightly transparent appearance and its combination of being slightly bitter and effervescent, like how I imagine Casper.
Chad: The name was appropriate. It had a slightly sour taste, carbonated but not overwhelmingly flavorful, almost like a Gin and tonic with a bit more sweetness.
Mad: I think you should be a little more supportive of the name than “appropriate.”
Chad: What do you mean?
Mad: You should say it was brilliant.
Chad: Okay, it was brilliant.
Mad: But then the absolute best part was when the zombie next to us asked what we were drinking. She ended up ordering three “Ghosts,” one for her and two for her friends. So essentially we helped create a now-famous Halloween cocktail for Diva’s.
Chad: Yep, a famous drink that only one particular bartender knows about at a club that is closing this weekend.
Mad: Get ‘em while they’re hot!
Chad: By this point in the night the crowd had shifted significantly. Diva’s brought in a much younger group of zombies. The dance floor was filled with college students.
Mad: And last-minute ripped t-shirts.
Chad: To be fair, we did a lot of our zombification on the bus.
Mad: Diva’s time was designated from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., so that probably explains why the younger zombies were coming out.
Chad: It was also a nightclub.
Mad: It was also the last place we got to go inside.
World War II Club
Chad: We got to the World War II club about half-way through their designated start time, which was midnight to 2 a.m.
Mad: However, they stopped letting in people at 1 a.m., so we missed the cut-off by about five minutes. There were a lot of cold and disgruntled zombies waiting outside for Ubers. It was like “Night of the Living Dead” but none of the zombies managed to get past the bouncer.
Chad: That pretty much sums it up. Our experience at the World War II club, or rather next to it, was cold yet bonding and a lot longer than I would have liked to wait for an Uber.
Before we conclude, we would like to give some shout-outs to people who made a mark on our October evening:
- The guy who almost ran over Chad.
- TomTom, a loving father who slept through his son’s 2 a.m. call.
- The guy whose security company called him to tell him his house was being broken into. We hope you’re doing alright.
- The people at McDonalds who made small talk at 3 a.m. and never once commented on the fact that we had zombie makeup on.
- The man outside the World War II club whose constant good-natured giggling brought lighthearted humor to the cold, cold wait. Madeleine is glad, however, that he was not one of the people dressed as a clown zombie.
- The Uber surcharge algorithm.
Overall, the Zombie Pubcrawl was a really entertaining event at some of Northampton’s finest establishments. These bars are all places that are great visiting on a normal night, but it’s worth it to make this specific trek out to the bar crawl. It truly is a unique experience to look around a crowded bar and see a bunch of zombies from all walks of life laughing together, throwing back beers.
Madeleine Jackman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chad Stoughton can be reached at email@example.com.