Come closer to me and sit for a time
and I'll tell a tale of teens cut off in their prime
Battered and bruised and not breathing at all,
but dressed in their finest with heels so tall,
these ghouls came out on a chilly evening in fall,
to dance the night away at a zombie ball!
For this event, we transformed the basement meeting room into a haunted ballroom. Decorations included cockroaches and maggots, candelabras, an eyeball chandelier, and bones scattered throughout. And of course, our favorite stand-by, cheap plastic table clothes over the lights. This is a great way to add instant atmosphere to any room. You do have to be careful about this and keep an eye on the lights, but we've never had any melt or burn. We also collected all the creepy things we could to set up little sets for photos, including gravestones from the high school's prop room.
We held the event a few days after Halloween, giving us time to raid the clearance. It was especially helpful for makeup, because we had told the participants to come in fancy outfits that they didn't care too much about (we saw a lot of old prom dresses), and we provided the makeup. The first 30 minutes of the event were just kids crowding in our bathrooms, making themselves look like lovely rotting corpses. (Easiest way to do this? Pale your skin and lips, then bruise your eyes. Add a little blood and voila! Undead beauty.)
For entertainment during the ball, we had a XBox 360 set up with Left 4 Dead in the foyer. In the main room we projected Dawn of the Dead onto the wall without sound to help with the ambiance. Of course, food is the most important part of any teen program, so the walls were lined tables full of ghoulish treats. Brain cupcakes, gravestone chocolates, and some sandwich supplies including "rotting" (sprayed with a bit of green food coloring) bread. We also asked a local flower shop to save their dying flowers and were able to make lovely corsages and bouquets for everyone who attended.
Towards the end of the night we took our zombies for a walk around the town square to get some more photos. It was great to see the reactions of people out and about, and the kids had fun while still being entirely respectful.
I think the best part of this event is that it was all so photogenic. The sets paired with the lighting made for some really awesome shots. This was long enough ago that it was before the whole Instagram phase (I told you it was a while ago!) so I'd almost like to do it again just to give the teens the opportunity for those epic selfies.
If you'd like to host your own zombie ball and are looking for some books to fit the theme, here is a great list we put together for our Tumblr.