If you’re anything like me, for the past 3 weeks or so your TikTok “For You” page has been flooded with Halloween content. Whether it’s obscure “cool girl” costume ideas that actually make no sense, people showing off the creative (and not-so-creative) costumes they’re wearing, or girls warning you that something life-altering is destined to happen on Halloweekend, one thing is clear: Halloween is a big deal for college students. The excess of Instagram recap posts on my feed this week confirmed this. And don’t let my sarcasm fool you, I’ve been eating it up. I love Halloween, because as a theater major and fashion lover, I crave a good opportunity to dress up, and the college party circuit allows me numerous chances to plan numerous outfits. When October rolls around, potential costumes are all I can talk about. I’m also someone who likes to make my costumes as specific as possible because to me, dressing like a “cowboy” or “pirate” is something I could do at a themed party any time of the year. When else am I going to get the opportunity to plan an outfit around a specific movie or meme reference that is the perfect level of topical without being too cliché? I say this with so much love to all of the cowgirls I saw this year, because their outfits were undeniably cute, and a special shout-out to the “Reverse Cowgirl” costume I saw. Some things are “basic” for a reason—they’re easy and look cute!
Quick aside on topical costumes: I shied away from Barbie this year and somehow so did everyone else, because I saw more couples and friend duos dressed as Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain or “The Onceler and The Lorax” than I saw any Barbie/Ken duos. My boyfriend did dress as Carmy from The Bear, but I was proud of my creativity in dressing as Cocaine Bear from Cocaine Bear to make a cheeky couple’s costume. I only saw one other person online do this! Did anyone guess my costume when I went out? No! But did I feel validated by the fact that I came up with it on my own? Yes!
As I proclaimed to all of my friends these past few weeks, I see Halloweekend as one of the most unifying weekends of the year. A “great equalizer,” if you will. Think about it—the majority of our age group recognizes it as the time to go out in silly outfits, so the usual feeling of embarrassment leaving your apartment at 7 pm in what is clearly a going-out outfit is negated. Costumes also make social events infinitely easier as an automatic conversation-starter and a chance to signify common interests if you choose to reference a specific piece of media or pop culture. You make friends with people you might never see again on the sole basis of asking them what they’re dressed up as, which, in my opinion, is way more fun than the usual “What’s your major?”, “Where are you from?” Somehow, everyone is from the Bay Area and dressed as a Playboy Bunny. Being around a college campus on a weekend in late October is simply entertaining because you never know who or what you’re going to see. On the UW campus, Halloween parties coinciding with parents’ weekend is one of my favorite crossover events. I hope all the mothers and fathers who saw me striding across campus in my Betty Boop costume felt good about their decision to send their children here!
I also agree with what all of the TikTok girlies were saying about Halloweekend being a pivotal time in the year. I feel it’s especially true for us at UW because of the quarter system. For us, Halloweekend falls right in the middle of the quarter and only a month into the school year. Everyone at colleges on the semester system has been studying and partying since August, but we’re right in the middle of our first midterm season, meaning stress levels are at an all-time high and the desire to let loose on the weekend is stronger than ever. It’s also a chance to deepen friendships that are blooming at the beginning of the year or make new connections that might change the course of your college experience. The people that I went out with on Halloweekend last year are now my roommates, and getting ready for Halloween together had a new nostalgic quality this time around. I look back on my freshman year and can point to the end of October as the time when I was finally feeling like I had found my people, and was making the fun memories that college was supposed to promise. For many of my friends and I, the crushes, talking stages, and hookups we had last Halloween have turned into infamous stories by now. Plenty of people attribute the start of their relationships to Halloweekends—maybe it’s the pressure of having a cute couple’s costume or the effects of a little liquid courage. Some say that if you can remember everything you did on Halloweekend, you did it wrong, which sounds like a slippery slope into alcoholism, so heed some advice with caution. The TikTokers telling us to pack our Halloweekends with doses of Emergen-C and Liquid IV probably had the right idea, but despite our best efforts, the post-Halloweekend sickness always goes around. I fell victim to it last year but somehow survived this season with only a minor sniffle.
If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s Halloweekend being fun, eventful, and festive, and it might just set the tone for the rest of the year. And if pumpkins and clever costumes aren’t your vibe for partying holidays, I guess you’ll just have to stick it out until New Year’s or St. Patrick’s Day.