For the Halloween season, I returned to the House of Spirits, and this time to explore the legend of Vaughan Hall. I attended on October 15th, its first evening being open to the public. For 2022, the event took place at an entirely different venue in Los Angeles called Casa Vertigo. It offered up new live acts, performances, characters, cocktails and dark secrets.
Casa Vertigo is a multi-story building in downtown LA used for filming and special events. It was a fitting place to host this year’s House of Spirits considering the tale is based on the legendary Loftus Hall, a notorious haunted mansion in Ireland. They look similar in structure and are both historic landmarks. Before I proceed, allow me to share the legend that surrounds Loftus Hall.
The story goes that on a stormy night during the 18th century, a stranger knocked on the door of the estate of the Tottenham family. They took the man in to provide him with shelter. It’s said he was taken with the daughter, Anne. At some point during his stay, the family sat down to play a game of cards. When Anne dropped something of hers on the floor, she bent down under the table to retrieve it and discovered that instead of legs, their guest had hooves. She was petrified and screamed hysterically. The mysterious man had no choice but to leave swiftly. The daughter was forever traumatized, and it was said that the gentleman was actually the devil.
Now, let’s return to the House of Spirits. The plot is loosely based on this story, as well as other Irish folklore. In this narrative, Lady Medb, mistress of Vaughan Hall, gave birth to Satan’s baby, and the entire family was consumed in flames…or were they? That is the mystery us guests had to unravel as we made our way through the mansion.
This was my first time inside Casa Vertigo, so I was looking forward to seeing past its doors. The event occurs in two-hour increments, and I purchased tickets for the last session at 9:30 p.m. I liked that the lateness of the hour added to the evening’s enigmatic energy. Guests were ushered in, and we proceeded up the staircases where we were led into one of the edifice’s many grand rooms. Here, people could grab a drink, take photos and lounge before entering the doorway that would whisk us all into the grips of Vaughan Hall.
A veiled individual welcomed us into a smaller room where he relayed the story of the Vaughan clan. Once he finished, we were off to another part of the building to start our adventure. The event is quite interactive, and patrons can choose which rooms they want to explore, engage in conversation with the characters to learn more secrets and participate in twisted mazes. I decided to enter the labyrinth where I was left to my own devices to find my way out. After several minutes, I finally did, and the exit led to other parts of the hall.
Each room had a different theme that revealed another piece of the Vaughan puzzle, as well as offered a unique cocktail. One space recreated Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol (The Theatre of the Great Puppet). It was a theatre that opened in Paris during the late 19th century and featured provocative horror entertainment. The performance on the House of Spirit’s stage reenacted the tale of Vaughan Hall. It contained naughty humor and a melancholy rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which was also sung during last year’s soiree. The dance number that accompanied it was interesting to witness; it had a tragic and ritualistic air to it.
Another element that returned this year was the Ouija Board room. If you read my blog post about 2021’s event, it was my favorite theme of the night and was again this time around. However, a major difference was that it occupied a much bigger space, so there was more to see. There was a set up for Tarot card readings and a small center stage where a woman performed a racy burlesque number. I loved the aerialist who was suspended in the air and hanging from fabric as she poured cocktails into guests’ cups. It was quite a sight to behold.
Another chamber was bathed in blue light, contained statues of knights in shining armor, a pianist playing ominous tunes, and an aerialist swinging ethereally on a hoop. It was here that a creature approached me, giving me and others a torch and beckoning us to following it back to the Ouija Board room to witness a sensual ritual. Like last year, I felt as if the hours escaped me because before I knew it, it was time to leave behind Vaughan Hall. There were other areas and mazes I didn’t have a chance to explore, so what they held will forever remain a mystery to me.
While I didn’t mind that a few details were repeated from last year, I would have preferred more novel experiences. I don’t know how I feel about old material being recycled to tell a new tale. Also, the venue is impressive, but was confusing to navigate, which is partly why I didn’t get to the other chambers and activities. They were tricky to find, but maybe that was the point. Casa Vertigo consists of four stories and although I moved around fine, it may have been more difficult for someone who has trouble walking up and down stairs. I’ve no doubt there were elevators, but with the number of attendees, I don’t know how easy they were to access. Since I did attend last year’s festivities, I can’t help but compare the two.
Despite these minor gripes of mine, I enjoyed myself and managed to get swept away by the dark magic of the night. In addition to Vaughan Hall, there were two other narratives being performed in different cities in the U.S. and they were Volkov Manor, which I witnessed in 2021, and Casa Vega. All three stories are interconnected, so that may explain why certain features overlap. I’m very curious to hear others’ experiences about these events. If Casa Vega comes to Los Angeles in 2023, I may have to check that one out.
Sadly, the final day for the House of Spirits was on Halloween. The haunted cocktail soiree has been laid to rest for now until next October, but I hope my review satiates your curiosity a bit. The affair is for adults ages 21 and over, and there are different admission types available, so have a peek at the website for details if you want to start planning for next spooky season. I do recommend the event, especially if it’ll be your first time going. It’s fun, unique, dark, and if you’re in good company, you’ll relish it.