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In which music columnist Curtis Cartier, now out of his Beastie Boys costume, pronounces this a Halloween for the record books.

By Curtis Cartier

It was tough work, but Mūz pieced together the damp bar receipts, scattered recollections, secondhand accounts and blatant exaggerations from the weekend into one rock-solid declaration: Best. Halloween. Ever.

Perhaps it was the 20,000 rain-soaked freaks packed like sardines down Pacific Avenue, or the wicked DJs and bands at the Freaker's Ball and the Catalyst. Maybe it was the eerie fog or the scattered fall showers. But likely, it was a little of each, along with good friends and strong drink that shattered all expectations and made my first Santa Cruz H-Day one for the record books.

Expertly dressed as the Beastie Boys from their iconic 1994 music video "Sabotage," my mustachioed crew began the night at Cypress Lounge, where San Francisco electronica quartet the Flying Skulls were dropping bass-wobbling dubstep and glitchy breakbeats as part of the 13th annual Freaker's Ball. While gorgeous girls in short skirts and tall stilts attempted to stay upright on the dance floor, the four goggle-sporting DJs unleashed a sinful set of seamless grooves that rattled windows and wiggled asses from one end of the club to the other. Pure bass-wasted fun, these guys earned a permanent spot on the Mūz radar and drove away any remaining doubt that Cypress has become the best spot in Santa Cruz to hear true DJ talent.

Bearded Ogres, Evil Bunnies
Leaving the club around 11pm, we began the long strange journey to the Asti. While each bar and club had its own self-contained brand of madness, the scene on Pacific Avenue was its own monster entirely. The shoulder-to-shoulder throngs of disguised revelers were a sea of grinning painted faces, funky hairdos and flashing cameras. Standout costumes included the bearded ogre from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, the evil bunny from the 2001 cult film Donny Darko and a fully functional Transformer consisting of three people forming into a glowing camera.

By the time the Mūz team made it to the Catalyst, generous quantities of Patron shots and oat sodas had ensured that any band onstage would sound great to our ears. Lucky for us, Jamaican reggae toaster Warrior King was smack in the middle of a gnarly roots reggae set that included his hard-edged hits "Wantin You" and "Mercy Please." With a dance floor full of other highly lubricated ghosts, vampires, rollergirls and Olympic swimmers, Warrior King and his band of dub soldiers had every chair empty and every hand raised. Spilling back onto the streets after the concert, the stumbling masses from the Catalyst blended with the stumbling masses from Rosie McCann's, the Palomar, the Blue Lagoon and every other watering hole doing its best to oust the inebriated masqueraders from their respective grounds. Visible tension could now be seen on the faces of local law enforcement as they clenched their batons more tightly and looked apprehensively in each direction, ready for the crowds to explode into a fit of public urination, fistfights and stabbings. But aside from a few punches and some quick arrests, the swarms were mostly docile and returned home with little struggle. As for us, despite a short (if ill-advised) bike ride home, we awoke the next day still in costume but in one piece, and began making the long and intricate plan for next year.

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