Alternative Portland Halloween: Steep & Thorny underground party, Besaw’s restaurant.

gravity astronaut costume

T-minus 10 seconds… to Halloween partying in Portland!

Every year, I try to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve in a big way. This time, my pirate crew dined on pumpkin, then ventured to a warehouse club filled with contortionists, fire-dancers and Almond Joys. Read on for the spooky story.

bird mask, masquerade portrait

On October 31, Besaw’s Restaurant invited us to dinner. The waiters were dressed to impress, and invited customers to take part in an Instagram costume contest. Earlier that day, two robot-aliens took over the bar and won the popular vote.

Wednesday Addams costume, halloween portraits

Besaw’s (2301 NW Savier St.) is a popular downtown Portland restaurant, specializing in Pacific Northwest fine dining. That night, we were well-taken care of by an anime bunny and Wednesday Addams.

vampire man, witch costume

The building dates back to the 19th century. Wonder if the vampire and witch were the original inhabitants.

astro-naughty costume, j valentine spacesuit

I discovered a new favorite cocktail: Bourbon, lime, ginger beer. My outrageous astronaut costume is from J Valentine Catalog, and my makeup is Annabelle (here are tons more space-girl outfit photos).

besaw's restaurant portland, pumpkin fritters

Our feast began with pumpkin fritters and spiced creme fraiche — perfection. I continued with butternut squash lasagna, made from organic and local ingredients. (First Mate Naomi is wearing a Cab Calloway ghost costume, which she made herself!)

bunny costume, anime eyes, desserts

We finished with two of the best desserts in recent memory: pumpkin cheesecake, and spicy gingerbread served warm with honey, roasted pears and vanilla ice cream.

portland halloween parties

Countdown, 3… 2… 1… let’s party! We were guests at The steep and thorny way to heaven (2nd and Hawthorne under the bridge by the waterfront). This is a semi-private underground party, meaning you have to RSVP or know someone to attend.

weird costumes, crazy halloween outfits

Organizer Myrrh bought this small warehouse space, and has regular events here with his friends. Expect surreal costumes and performances, and imaginative theme drinks. (I’m holding “The Pumpkin King,” made from my beloved pumpkin puree, ginger liqueur, aromatic bitters.)

steep and thorny way to heaven, myrrh

The one-room venue alternated between dancing, music, and haunting theatrical performances. Above, Myrrh plays guitar and sings his original dark, reflective songs.

portland contortionist, warehouse party

A contortionist joined him on-stage. Can’t wait to show you the video footage of her moves.

almond joy costume, dancing candy bar

Some of the performances will leave your jaw hanging — such as this cheeky burlesque-like dance by a giant Almond Joy bar!

renaissance medieval singers

Such a variety of acts, like three girls who sang Medieval and Renaissance songs a-cappella.

fire twirling, portland underground club

A fire dancer heated up the room, accompanied by pulsing music.

fire dancing motion

Love the movements that Naomi captured in these no-flash images.

sword dancer, bellydance portland oregon

Finally, a fusion belly dancer twirled and raged with a sword on her head.

sleeping man at party

But perhaps the best performance of all was the impromptu one… where filmmaker Melissa played tricks on a sleeping victim! (Photos by me, Melissa Rundle and Naomi Rubin.)

astronaut cute women's costume

Look for upcoming Steep & Thorny event announcements, including pirate karaoke, on their Facebook page. A must-see party, when you come to Portland (and not many locals know about it)!

Are you enjoying my Spooky PDX costumes so far? Isn’t this a terrific city for the offbeat?

PS: I’m in the land of earless robot cats (aka Tokyo) right now. Follow along my adventures on Twitter and Instagram.



  1. yukiro
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Love the space cyber hood jacket!! looked like a great party!

  2. MelissaR
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    So, so SO awesome!!!

  3. Jon
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous photography. Cheers.

  4. Kirby
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    That looks like a great time. I had a nice Halloween too at a club in Louisiana.

  5. Nana
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to Japan!!!

  6. Hellgramite
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Looks great!

  7. Isabel
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    I love it, thank you!

  8. Mada
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    love it~
    i want

  9. Becca
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Love it!!

  10. RAFAEL
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    YAY! ^,..,^

  11. Barbara
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    …and tomorrow you will surely suffer from the pumpkin *runs* mwahahah! ;-)

  12. Irene
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:52 am | Permalink


  13. Ms Victoria
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:52 am | Permalink


  14. Bernie
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Love this!!

  15. Lauraanichka
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Almond Joy <3

  16. Girl power
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    That looks really yum. The candy too.

  17. Laura
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Portland is amazing. I’m happy you went to it. I really like the photography

  18. Viv
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Carmen it’s nice to see what you’re doing

  19. Bengkf
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink


  20. Frank
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    That’s nice thanks for the clubbing tips
    Im going next time ^^

  21. Rina
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    What camera do you shoot with? Thank u

  22. Gloria
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    My daughter adores the Instagram photos from japan you are posting

  23. Wall
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink


  24. genie
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    i <3 portlandia

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