You are cordially invited to take a peek behind the doors of the House of Spirits. It was my first time experiencing this mysteriously macabre event, and I loved every minute of it! As the name states, it is a Haunted Cocktail Soirée, offering a variety of adult libations on the grounds of a beautiful estate—but that’s not all that was offered. The property held secrets only to be revealed to attendees. There were hidden rooms, eerie characters lurking down hallways and magical performances.
This occasion took place at the historic York Manor in Los Angeles, and this year’s theme was inspired by the true story of occultist Rasputin and the Romanov royal dynasty. If you’re unfamiliar with the history of these figures, I discuss it briefly in my blog post History’s Most Formidable Occult Figures. For the event, the storyline centered on the fictional Vasiliev family and an evil magic man named Volkov. The ambience, from entertainment to costumes, was infused with regal Russian elements.
The edifice was picturesque, and upon entrance there were an outdoor bar for patrons to enjoy a welcome drink and a darkly decorated area to take photos. I couldn’t help but notice that off to the side of the dwelling were two mazes. To access them, I had to walk a dimly lit path, then select which I wanted to enter. One contained more frights than the other, so which do you think I chose?
The more scares the merrier for me, so off I went. This attraction was in a lower part of the manor. Before going in, the guard handed me a faux candle and instructed me to tell any spirits I encountered, “Take my light, not my life.” The passageways were dark with only the candle to help me see, and cloaked masked figures were around nearly every corner. At a point, if I wanted to continue on, I had to repeat the aforementioned line to one of these entities. My only source of light was taken from me, but I navigated my way out successfully enough and right into the main hall where the festivities were transpiring!
There was so much activity unfolding that I wasn’t sure where to go first. The manor contained several rooms that guests could visit at their leisure. Since it was a cocktail soirée, the libations were a special part of the experience, and you could enjoy up to five different kinds. There were small bars located throughout with mixologists pouring drinks. Although I normally stick to wine or gin martinis, the concoctions served that night were delicious with names such as Olde Rasputin, The Romanov and The Anastasia.
Performances abounded, including actors, singers and dancers. A musician played what sounded like Russian folk tunes on his accordion. A mysterious magician approached me levitating a crystal ball between his hands. I couldn’t tell how he kept it floating in the air, but I was mesmerized. The climax of the night was an unholy ritual that happened on the middle stage. This was the one portion where filming and photography were prohibited and with good reason. Towards the end, one of the male performers was stripped naked by his companions to the astonishment of all onlookers.
Surprises filled every nook and cranny of the estate, and I know I didn’t discover them all. I did walk through another haunting maze that was laid out upstairs, which dove further into the tragic tale of the Russian family and Volkov. My favorite room contained a giant Ouija Board that answered all of my darkest questions. In the lush backyard, there were more bars, lounging areas and entertainment.
I definitely plan to attend this event next Halloween! It’s a unique experience every year and now that I know what to expect, I’ll be better prepared to explore. Although House of Spirits has closed its doors, you can join the waitlist to find out when it will reopen. This attraction takes place in Los Angeles; New York; and Dallas, Texas. It is only for people ages 21 and older, and occurs in two-hour increments, so don’t be late because staff does usher guests out once their time is up. They do this to make room for the next round of parties going in. General admission is $55 and includes four mini cocktails, or you can opt for VIP for $77 (like I did) and imbibe in five. And by all means, dress to the nines!
For more information, visit the House of Spirits: A Haunted Cocktail Soirée official website.