Image by Derek Kouyoumjian
If you thought that journalism primarily attracts a curmudgeonly troupe that prefers dive bars to spectacularly glitzy nightlife, then you’re mostly correct. Nevertheless, over the past decade, the New England chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has successfully thrown Bloodfeast, a blowout Halloween ball fully decked with an iconic costume contest packing a $1,000 cash prize. Being as there is some significant Dig history involved—from the founding of Bloodfeast, to this year’s DJ being former Dig Editor David Day—we asked longtime journalism organizer and Boston Globe reporter Emily Sweeney about the return of the annual SPJ soiree held in the good name of media mayhem.
Tell us how this all started, and how it ultimately became an event propped by the Society of Professional Journalists, of all groups.
ES: It all started back in 2004, when Lissa Harris (a Dig alum!) and I were running the New England SPJ chapter. We did the paperwork to officially launch a scholarship fund for journalism students, which was easy … but then came the hard part: we had to figure out how to raise money to put into the fund. So we came up with the idea of throwing a Halloween party, and charging a cover at the door.
I suggested the name Bloodfeast because it seemed like an over-the-top name for a fundraiser, and I thought we could hold a Red Cross blood drive in conjunction with the party. The blood drive never happened, but the party did—we ended up giving out Red Cross brochures at the party, a tradition that we’ve continued every year since. The first Bloodfeast, in 2004, was held at the Villa Victoria. The following year, Michael DiCarlo offered to have the party at Machine, and we’ve been having it there ever since.
Are journalists generally known as phenomenal party people? Halloween people?
ES: Of course! As Lois Lane once said … news never sleeps. And who doesn’t like dressing up on Halloween? Look at Clark Kent … he did it almost every day. LOL.
This party is renowned as one of the most intense costume competitions in Boston around this time of year. What are some of the best outfits you’ve seen, and what are you expecting to dominate this year? In other words, how many Donald Trumps will there be?
ES: We’ve seen some incredible costumes over the years. People put a lot of heart and soul and creativity into them … I remember one time a guy dressed up as a gigantic, oversized flip-flop sandal. Another time someone dressed as the invisible man … and I tell ya, they really looked invisible, their hat and eyeglasses were floating in the air. Another memorable costume was a woman who portrayed a scene from some horror movie right there on stage. She was on a bed that actually started spinning around. It was an amazing stunt. I can’t believe she pulled it off. It’s always hard choosing a winner, every year. My mom usually serves as one of the esteemed judges. We never know what to expect.
Do you have a go-to outfit? Or will you be disguised as something special this year?
ES: Every year I try to wear something that’s comfortable to dance in. I’ve been a football player, priest, police officer, referee … I’m still deciding what to wear this year.
There was no Bloodfeast last year, from what I understand? Why is it important that the party returns to proper form, and sticks around for good now?
ES: Right, we had a good run, throwing a Halloween party every year for a decade. After we did the 10th annual, Bloodfeast went on a brief hiatus … but it was only temporary. Michael DiCarlo reserved Halloween night for us at Machine this year, and we’re looking forward to coming back. It’s a great party that supports two good causes.