Machester Street offers thrills and chills: Distillery District hosts Fall Ball and haunted houses

By Jennifer Abreu

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Manchester Street is known for its old buildings and massive warehouses lined side by side. Dimly-lit and silent, the street can be a little intimidating. So it’s not surprising that the distillery district becomes home to haunted houses and fashionable monsters  around Halloween season.

Both the Beaux Arts Fall Ball and Scream Park 2011, a haunted house company, have chosen Manchester St. to host their events for the third year in a row.

Beaux Arts Fall Ball, an event infamous for norm-busting creativity, will take place  Saturday at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom.

This year’s Fall Ball will feature acts like Midnight Conspiracy, Amtrac, Fidel Hasflow, Kymbo Slyce, DJ Warren Peace, Nemo Achida and Mille with DlaMrod.

Beaux Arts Fall Ball has become a fall tradition in Lexington, raising funds for the major Beaux Arts Ball in the spring, which is a big philanthropy event.

Beaux Arts Ball is organized by students from the UK College of Design every year and has been a major spring event since 1967, according to BAB executive committee members, Melissa Long, Hannah Gompers and Emily Bottom.

Fall Ball was created to specifically raise funds for the main event in the spring, Long said.

Gompers said applications for the charities interested in receiving donations next year will be released after Fall Ball.

“We are usually looking for someone in the Lexington community,”  Long added. “We always try to give back to the university as a whole, because as students we put it on.” Gompers said Fall Ball is specifically unique because it features local artists, and this year they will also have a graffiti artist and burlesque dancers.

“This year we’ll have a mixture between rap and electronic, so hopefully that will appeal to wide range of people,” Long said.

Kymbo Slyce, a local electronica-dance deejay, will be spinning at this year’s Beaux Arts Fall Ball and he said he anticipates a variety of great artists performing along with himself.

“Midnight Conspiracy is really good,” Slyce said. “Amtrac is also going to be there. He’s from Kentucky and I can’t wait to hear what he has.”

Slyce studies at the Lexington School for Recording Arts and will be playing a few of his own songs. “What makes me different is that I like surprising people,” Slyce said. “I am a big fan of playing music people haven’t heard of.”

Slyce doesn’t have anything specific for Saturday’s performance, he likes to feel the atmosphere during the party.

“It will be 98 percent improv,” he said. “I’ll play it by the crowd.”

It is not only the great music, the energetic atmosphere and the fun that makes Beaux Arts Fall Ball so great, it’s also the meaning behind the event, Slyce said.

“I think it’s a great organization and what they’re doing with music and the arts … I like that all the proceeds go to different charities,” Slyce said. “I am happy to be involved.”

Slyce said he and Warren Peace, a local hip-hop/soul deejay who will also be spinning Saturday evening, have a surprise planned for the crowd along with hip-hop recording artist Nemo Achida.

“We have something special planned, but that is all I can reveal right now,” Slyce said.

Slyce didn’t reveal what his costume for Fall Ball will be.

“I’m still not sure,” Slyce said about one of Fall Ball’s most eye-catching traditions. “It’ll be a surprise to me as much as to everyone else. Every year is awesome, I can’t wait”

BAB committee members said Beaux Arts is something that exists in designs schools, and is focused towards the costumes — and has slowly evolved into a “rave thing.”

The costumes are still a huge  part of the event for those who attend.  Be ready to run into some very original, exotic costumes, Long said.

“As far as costumes, (guests) always come out full throttle,” Long said.

Bottom said it is a contest of “do-it-your-own.”

“It’s not about buying costumes, it’s about being creative with it,” Bottom said.

Long said people really feel comfortable bringing out that hidden ego through costumes at Fall Ball.

Beaux Arts Fall Ball completes it’s third year at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom and has not officially decided to move out.

Gompers said the only reason why they would consider a move is capacity.

“Last year we were sold out by midnight,” Gompers said.

“We are having drinks special from 8 until 11 p.m.,” Long said.

Only a couple blocks from all the local, outrageous creativity, Lexingtonians can find another, slightly scarier event.

Screampark is Lexington’s largest haunted event, sitting at 903 Manchester St.

Eddie Embry, owner of the haunted house company, said it was more than a great geographic location that brought Screampark to this building.

“It was the history of the building,” he said. “Other than what we do, there were actual ghost hunters in here before.”

Embry said that the fact that there were investigations done inside that warehouse adds more to the atmosphere of the event.

UK philosophy student Matthew Ward, who works at Screampark, said the haunted house is the only one within Fayette County boundaries.

Ward, who plays a mime at the haunted houses, is also a rummer and a slider.

A rummer is someone who is always interacting with the public, making sure everyone is being entertained or scared as they wait in line or walk around.

A slider wears knee pads and gloves to make sliding easier during their scares. People are not expecting anything to come up from the ground, and these surprises are what make Screampark a great haunted Halloween experience,” Ward said.

Once inside Screampark, one can enjoy up to four different attractions: Castle of Fear, Insanity, The Abyss and the Hot Seat.

The “Castle of Fear” belongs to an evil, furious King who is known for locking visitors inside the castle’s “Torture Chamber.”

“Insanity: Hospital for the Insane” is a bloody maze populated by lunatic doctors and patients who will keep people from finding their way out.

“The Abyss” is a maze where people find themselves in complete darkness. Before entering, a good piece of advice is not to believe everything seen.

Finally, the “Hot Seat,” Scream Park’s newest attraction, is a multi-motion ride designed to mimic a real execution.

“We are one of America’s best haunts,” Embry said.

Manchester St. might be better referred to as “Halloween Row,” as it hosts a third year of artsy thrills and spooky chills.