Buffalo, NY 14202
The annual Witches Ball Masquerade in Buffalo presented by Buffalo Rising is returning to the Statler City venue this weekend, on October 28th.
For Buffalo, it’s one of the no-brainer events of the year. More than just a typical music event or concert, The Witches Ball takes pride in being a fully immersive experience that encapsulates attendees from the moment they step foot on the premises and stimulates all of the senses throughout the course of the evening. The goal is to make you forget about life’s tribulations before you even get through the ticket check, and they’ve done just that over the last 6 years with an experience that covers all of the bases from live art to live bands to djs to aerial acrobatics to food options and so much more.
While the event has only been around officially since 2012, the heart and soul of The Witches Ball was born nearly two decades prior in the early 1990’s. It originally started as a DIY, at-home haunted house in Kenmore around 1993 that, admittedly surprisingly, saw consistent growth each year. For Greg Hinaman and Al Baker, the brains behind the project, it was something they were passionate about and thoroughly enjoyed doing.
As attendance rose each year, more additions were added, and the word had began to spread. Eventually, the attraction took up the majority of the land and with wooden planks used for floor boards and walls it became difficult to decipher whether you were in a bedroom or the backyard. The event continued to grow over the next 15 years. At its peak, the house was funneling over 5,000 kids through its terror-filled walls over the span of a single weekend.
‘It got so big, firefighters would come each year and hang around outside and hand out candy to the kids and families.’ – Greg
Then, in 2011, the city of Buffalo put a halt to the whole thing. To Greg and Al, it wasn’t a business, but more of a passion, and in spite of all of that, city codes and permits still needed to be adhered to. Because of that incident, they decided to launch their own company, Terror Tech. The future had looked bleak, albeit only briefly, before the two were introduced to Newell Nussbaumer, who many know as the one behind Buffalo Rising and The Witches Ball.
A chance encounter with Newell following a review of the guys’ Zombie Group led to the duo joining Newell, who had already been planning the inaugural Witches Ball. A venue had already been decided on and the Hotel Lafayette was there to provide the place. Tons of planning went in to the first official event in 2012, that opened with 200 of Hinaman’s zombies leading a procession along the side walks leading up to the hotel, and the turnout more than justified a return event for the following year.
For five years the guys worked together delegating tasks to those in charge of themed rooms and building something, that was growing right before their very eyes in to one of the most talked about events in Western New York year in and year out.
‘It was kind of one of those things, you know, where that one door closing opened up so many more opportunities for us.’ – Greg
Last year was the first year at Statler City, a venue with significantly more space to host the Witches Ball. The added room, compared to the more narrow-structured Lafayette Hotel, allows for more creative freedom with decor and art as well as more elbow room for patrons, and even helped to alleviate one of the issues encountered in years past, bottlenecking at entrance points.
As with any major venue change for an established event, there’s going to be tons to worry about, but venue owner Mark Croce and the Buffalo Rising crew worked to make the transition as seamless as possible, with great overall success, looking forward to a bigger and better event this year.
But its about so much more than that to these guys. The crew use this platform to not only push their passion, but to give back to the community as well. ‘Over the years we’ve donated 10,000 pounds of food, thousands to the Make A Wish foundation, 500 pounds of hat, gloves, scarves, etc, and helped to save over 1,000 lives via blood donations’ Greg recalls.
The party, as usual, has it all and then some. Musicians such as Dave Wasik, CO Jones, a funk band that performed so well last year they had to be brought back, and Dames of the Dead, a Witches Ball exclusive band, are set to take to the stage throughout the evening.
DJ performances come from Sunglasses Mike, who headlines the main room known as Club Decaptione from 12:30am-1:30am, and Charlie Abbott, Kyle Moody, and Nate Howell represent the Pyramid crew and host a Stranger Things themed room in the old Rendezvous. Brian Gorman, under the moniker Heavy Brain, will be playing a live version of the Stranger things theme song along with several other horror-themed renditions.
The Psychic Lounge is another annual treat at The Witches Ball that allows you to escape the madness and seek counsil. Mason Winfield arranges the Witches Ball Psychic Faire as a spin-off of his company Haunted History Ghost Walks (HHGW), Inc.
The Seven One Six Side Show Presented By MaddTat2 features a live art gallery, and dj performances from the likes of Jonathon Allday Lay, Potent J, and Matka while the painted snake lady herself, Mehandi Mahal Henna Artistry, and ring master, Mark Madden transform live models right before your very eyes.
Refresh in the Couture Courtyard, which features cocktails from sponsor Bootleg Bucha and is located in the center-most portion of Statler City, also isolated from the mayhem.
The Silent Disco will be held down by DJ Redebulous and Scafetta, two upcoming locals in the Buffalo community.
Dancers for the night include Buffalo’s official belly dancers Fleuron Rouge, Foxy Diamonds, and the BDA Dancers with artistic stylings from the likes of Madd Grafix, Magician Joe Maxwell, and Amber Dextrous. Pop up dances, stilt walking, and more will be provided by Extraordinary Arts.
The Voodoo Ranger Lounge features the scare tactics of Greg and Al with performances from the Tommy Z Band and DJ Milk who will get the night started with a variety of classics in the soul, jazz and funk realms.
The Great Foodini and Mineo & Sapio Street Eats will be providing food options for the evening. Your sponsors include Madd Grafix, Bootleg Bucha (VIP), Seek Axiom, and more.
General admission tickets are still available and start at just $40. VIP ticket packages include a four hour open bar from 8:00pm-12:00am, hors d’oeuvres, access to exclusive acts, and more. Packages start at $120.
You can head to any of the ticket and event page links for additional info regarding the Witches Ball.