Photography by Becca Levy
Check out all of Becca’s TentaKKles of Love photos here!
The greeter’s arms are strong around my chest, I can feel the effort. He wants me to feel welcome, because that’s how you feel safe. I slip by the overloaded coat check and dive right in. The first room is a crowded bar space with a heavy Jay-Z remix keeping the energy high and heavy. The black lights keep the mood in the small room reserved, but there is still a purpose being served. The body paint models getting live coats in the corner positively pop in the twilight, as do the myriad of anime and cephalopod costumes. The tiny bar space feels a bit too crowded, so I press on past the bathrooms and up the stairs into the heart of darkness… the pit of TenaKKles.
Tammany Hall’s main dance floor is littered in the throws of some insane convention-goers wildest dreams. Hot pink samurais and Spike Speigel are poppin’ & lockin’, trying to catch the eyes of a sensual Sailor Moon and her techni-colored counterpart, all the while tentacles permeated my periphery. An eye catching arrangement of a school of squid float peacefully overhead, popping against the video feeds featuring penetration mash-ups that would leave H.R. Geiger at half mast. The heat of the dance floor pours off a healthy vibe. Everyone is smiling and dancing, the bar is busy but not a frenzied mess, and as Kostume Kult is known for, these people look astonishing. The security guards are everywhere, but not imposing. They are there to keep the peace, not to stop anyone from enjoying themselves (within reason).
The art direction is strong, highlighted perfectly by a mannequin still-life in the upstairs chill lounge that leaves me as unnerved as it does titillated. These grasping appendages, whip-like tendons covered in suckers from the briny depths, are invasive sensory organs, probing the most sensitive parts of our bodies and even our minds. If not for the room full of ninjas, robots and super heroes, I’d doubt we have a chance. The electrified disco-house beats carry through the space, granting a reef-like effect to the crowd as they surge to the dynamic sets of Alex Funk, Douggie Style, Orion Keyser, Ben Jammin, Cindy Kim and Stefan Spins.
While the event space felt packed from start to finish, the pitch-perfect atmosphere made it a non-issue. The intensely social environment provided an ample opportunity for the celebrants to delightedly chat and catch up, as well as make new friends. Some avid squid fans came from as far as St. Petersburgh, Florida, to make merry with like-minded tentacle enthusiasts, and the event did not disappoint. The cheerful and generous bartenders made sure that everyone who wanted to get the party started wouldn’t have to wait long.
As Valentine’s weekend events go, it was a success. For the kind of couple/group that finds the associations that come with the hentai (anime pornography) to be exciting, they couldn’t have asked for better company to celebrate their companionship. I’m sure that more than one love connection was made that night, thanks in the largest part to the tireless efforts of the beat-beasting DJs that rocked the event. The next time Kostume Kult gives you the opportunity to stretch your dancing legs and get back into the swing of things, don’t hesitate. The clean community vibe, high energy rhythms and fat disco basslines will keep your spirits high while you marvel at the utter mastery of costume and body art that is represented at their events. Kostume Kult’s tradition of no holds barred, full stop personal mutation was held to its usual astronomical standard at this event, and is nothing short of inspirational. It is clear that the crowd is at ease, the creep factor is almost entirely minimized, despite the raunchy overtones of the event. In this bastion of depravity, some of these people are covered head to toe, and yet here they are no longer in disguise. They are free.