Prometheus Downtown

By Brittany MenjivarNovember 1, 2023

Prometheus Downtown
APOCALYPSE HALLOWEEN PARTY, Los Angeles, October 28, 2023.

As a recent East Coast transplant, I’ve noticed a major difference between New York parties and L.A. parties: people here rarely dance. At clubs, most patrons only cross the floor on their way to the smoking patio; even at raves, only a small throng of attendees spins and sways before the turntables, the rest preferring to huddle in corners as they ingest their powder of choice. This was not the case at the Apocalypse Halloween Party, hosted by filmmaker Patrick Hartley, creative director Damiano Villalobos, and photographer Lydia Ren. The Partiful page for the event listed over 700 RSVPs—and indeed, when I arrived at the appointed Downtown warehouse complex, the place was packed with writhing bodies. Despite the dystopian theme, few guests appeared zombified. Chatter was lively and smiles were bright, even when the Cobrasnake wasn’t nearby.

Most warehouse parties around these parts lack outdoor space, resulting in an atmosphere that actually feels apocalyptic. Once you’ve entered the dimly lit, windowless building, you can’t step out—not to get some fresh air, not to hit up a hot dog cart, not to find a bathroom that’s not a Porta-Potty. At Apocalypse, an outdoor area wasn’t just provided—it was one of the main attractions. A massive overturned vehicle was the centerpiece; (fake) blood-drenched hooligans climbed on top for photo ops. Vats of “radioactive” liquid glowed green. A fallout shelter fashioned from a shipping container sat next to a wall with a mysterious button affixed to it; press it, and you’d instantly be drenched with a downpour of water. (Of course, partygoer after partygoer gleefully took the bait, even after noting the puddle on the ground—who doesn’t love a mysterious button?) Most importantly, quesadillas and ice cream were available for purchase. (“You can eat them separately or combine them, although no one’s done that yet,” the vendor helpfully told me. I declined, but appreciated the offer.)

The larger-than-life fun continued inside the venue, where a giant skeleton-wolfman duo watched over the denizens of the dance floor. Sidestepping a common party pitfall—a mishmash of DJs whose output ultimately sounds interchangeable—the hosts had curated a lineup that included sets by scene heavyweights from both coasts (atlgrandma and Frost Children were standouts), plus live performances from various cover bands. When I stepped into the room, goth and synthpop were the predominant vibes. Weaving through the crowd, I assessed costume choices—everyone was dressed up, per the requirements for entry. Trendy costumes were less common than I expected; I didn’t spot any Barbies or Oppenheimers in my midst. The classics—nurses, vampires—were present, as were more obscure picks—droogs, Funko Pops, the Statue of Liberty. I mentally awarded “Costume of the Night” to someone dressed as the frog mascot that went viral for dancing frantically in the streets of China, proving that a good meme can survive even the end of the world.

The highlight of the night was undoubtedly 69 Inch Nails, who took the stage with a snarling cover of “Closer.” Lead singer John Hein—a filmmaker when he’s not imitating Trent Reznor—shot sparks at the audience before pulling out a full-fledged flamethrower. We screamed and cheered as the fire raged—entertained and a little bit scared, as everyone should be on Halloweekend. Maybe our whole existence is flawed—but as long as we can gather together to enjoy such primal pleasures as music, community, and the Promethean rediscovery of light, I think we’ll be okay.


Photo by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

Brittany Menjivar was born and raised in the DMV; she now works and plays in the City of Angels. With her partner in crime Erin Satterthwaite, she runs Car Crash Collective, hosting late-night literary readings at Footsies Bar in Los Angeles. Her poetry and fiction have been featured in HADDream Boy Book ClubSpectra, and Dirt Child, among other publications. Additionally, she was named a 2023 Best of the Net Award Finalist. You can stream her short film on YouTube’s ALTER Channel, where it has nearly two million views. You can also find her on Substack: she posts cultural criticism via BRITTPOP, and keeps track of the most exciting events happening in L.A. each week via The Angel Almanac.


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