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Tap your inner rock star: Halloween costumes, places to go in Atlanta

The fact my wig looks more like Farrah Fawcett than David Lee Roth and my belly pushes against my spandex tights just doesn’t matter. The transformation from freelance journalist to mock rock star quickly suspends disbelief.

Since 2004, I’ve been fronting Van Heineken, a cheeky tribute to Roth-era Van Halen. No matter how many notes I flub or high kicks I miss, for more than an hour I’m a living rock ‘n’ roll action figure. Cue the smoke machines.

Posing as a rock star, even for a Halloween party, provides more escapism than a simple masquerade.

“It’s empowering and fun to dress like a rock star at Halloween,” said Barb Hays, a manager at Junkman’s Daughter in Little Five Points, a purveyor of rock wear and costumes. “The look can be really iconic and associated with a certain time period. Dress like that to a party, and you get a lot of attention like, well, a rock star.”

Those 21 and older looking to send their Halloween off the charts can tune into the following events and consider some rocking costume suggestions to go with each.


37 Main in Buford typically plays host to a variety of tribute bands specializing in music from Journey to Prince to U2. For its Halloween costume party, the staff enlists the virtual live jukebox of Thin Ice, a four-piece outfit covering hard rock radio staples from the 1970s and ’80s. Think Cheap Trick, Kiss, Ozzy and other eardrum rattlers. Open Road opens the evening. Dress your best for the costume contest boasting $1,000 in prizes.

9 p.m. Oct. 29. $10; $60 reserved table for four. 37 Main, 37 E. Main St., Buford. 678-288-2030,

Go as:

David Bowie

The late thin white duke epitomizes ’70s glam. Channel one of his looks from the moon age glitz of Ziggy Stardust to the costume he wore as Jareth the Goblin King in the 1986 film “Labyrinth.”

Stevie Nicks

A quick Pinterest search reveals a wardrobe full of ideas to re-create the style of this rock gypsy. Make like the gold dust woman and wrap yourself in a fringe poncho or bolero, or a vintage-style batwing dress with gothic detailing.


Cut some rug at this pair of neighboring soirees. Begin the evening at the Halloween Thriller Night swing dance party. Swing dance lessons kick off at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m., swing dancing of all styles overtakes the dance floor. DJ Alan White spins Top 40 hits from the ages. A costume contest promises prizes. Step next door to Nemoe’s Tavern & Grill for Halloween Fright Night. This Latin-themed dance party finds DJ Soltrix from Tampa, Fla., spinning bachata remixes, salsa, mambo and more. A bachata dance lesson and a costume contest with $1,000 in prizes help highlight the bash, which lasts until 3 a.m. A special $15 ticket includes both parties.

Halloween Thriller Night: 8 p.m. Oct. 29. $10. Dancing4Fun Dance Studio Atlanta, 6025 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners.

Halloween Fright Night: 9:30 p.m. Oct. 29. $15. Nemoe’s Tavern & Grill, 6025 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners. 770-855-4396,

Go as:

Michael Jackson

The Halloween Thriller Night party almost demands Michael Jackson wear, be it the “Beat It” look or a “Thriller” zombie. Track down a curly black wig, a white T-shirt, black high-water pants, white socks, moonwalk-ready loafers and that sequined glove.

Amy Winehouse

The late singer’s penchant for retro 1950s and ’60s pin-up dresses makes this costume dance floor ready. Cover your top in a vintage-style sweater, accent the eyes with mucho eye liner and crown yourself in a beehive wig with a head scarf.


Full disclosure: Van Heineken will be an opening act at Monsters of Mock: Halloween Hysteria at Avondale Towne Cinema. However, I’ll be sticking around for the entire shindig, an evening of three tribute bands, a Halloween dance party with DJ Dusty Booze, and a costume contest hosted by Professor Morte of the Silver Scream Spook Show. Stephen Skipper’s Rolling Stones Tribute headlines the evening, with Skipper looking, sounding and moving like Mick Jagger’s twin brother. OC/DC replicates AC/DC classics. Van Heineken runs with the devil, dishing out classic Van Halen. Forgive the faux David Lee Roth’s tight-fitting garb. Trust me, I’m carb counting until showtime.

7:30 p.m. Oct. 28. $12. Avondale Towne Cinema, 106 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates. 404-228-3125,

Go as:

Angus Young

He may be in his 60s, but the AC/DC ax man still wears his schoolboy suit onstage. A black ball cap, a black suit jacket, a white dress shirt with a red and black striped tie, black shorts, white socks and black sneakers do the trick. Don’t forget the inflatable guitar.

Joan Jett

Do you love rock ‘n’ roll? Become Jett set with black leather or vinyl pants, studded bracelets and belts, a leather jacket, black Converse high tops and a black shoulder-length rocker wig.


The new Vista Room at Napoleon’s serves as a haven for the Americana and jam band set. Halloween weekend brings Zale to the stage. Fronted by Hannah Zale, also a member of local folk rock duo the Pussywillows, she shares the stage with guests Jess Goggans and the Stir. It’s billed as a costume party, so organizers encourage guests to dress for the occasion.

9 p.m. Oct. 29. $10-$12. The Vista Room, 2836 Lavista Road, Atlanta. 404-321-5000,—with-special-guests-jess-goggans-the-stir.

Go as:

Janis Joplin

The departed hippie wailer loved her some fringe, layers of tops and bell-bottom pants. Scarves, boas and large round glasses — the latter currently in fashion — encapsulate Joplin’s free spirit. And so does wild, untamed hair.

Jimi Hendrix

Simply grab a pirate coat and shirt, and you have the makings for this guitar god. A black Afro wig with a head scarf, bell-bottom britches and sunglasses aid the transformation. Of course, it’s incomplete without a certain six-stringed instrument.


Buckhead nightclub Tongue & Groove presents its Creatures of the Night party, the pulsing sounds of DJ Fashen providing the soundtrack. The staff has some surprises under wraps, but won’t reveal them until just after the sun goes down. Prepare to dance, and make sure your costume allows plenty of wiggle room.

9 p.m. Oct. 29. $30. Tongue & Groove, 565 Main St. N.E., Atlanta. (For GPS purposes, use 2420 Piedmont Road, Atlanta.) 404-261-2325,

Go as:


Minneapolis’ fallen son will likely inspire plenty of costumers this year. An online search uncovers plenty of suggestions for his “Purple Rain” look. The purple trench coat, frilly shirt, black pants, black boots and a curly black wig may leave you “Delirious.”


Becoming the pop diva can be done with ease. First, score a dirty blond wig. A red and black flannel shirt, Daisy Duke jean shorts with a studded belt, fishnets, and black ankle boots with high heels complete her “Flawless” picture.

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