SINGAPORE - Dressed as a ghoulish prisoner, Ms Wu Ying Ying's first Halloween party costume four years ago was a cumbersome, baggy jumpsuit with many pockets. To complete the look, she and her friends crowded into a public toilet in Clarke Quay, taking turns in front of a dimly lit mirror to apply their make-up - "all the right things, like eyeliner and lipstick, in all the wrong places", says the public relations consultant.
Her outfits in the subsequent years gradually became less of a hassle. Her look last year as a Chinese Qing Dynasty vampire took less than an hour to achieve. "With experience comes wisdom, and I have learnt that you have to be a minimalist during Halloween," says Ms Wu, 25.
She did her make-up at a friend's shop in the Clarke Quay area - all the better to hop to clubs in the vicinity - and placed her valuables in a friend's car.
To store other belongings, she sometimes uses lockers in clubs, though some friends prefer to strap their belongings to their thighs, "like a garter", she says.
She is among a growing group of young adults who view Halloween, an American festival celebrated on Oct 31, as a must-do event on the yearly calendar - with costumes, make-up and parties galore.
In Singapore, Halloween spells big business for costume rental services, make-up artists, attractions and clubs which pull out the stops to make sure people party in character.
At costume shop Masquerade in Lavender Street, which has been renting out its fairy-tale and ghostly outfits since 1993, business has tripled in the past five years as the festival gets more popular, says owner Betty Png, 58.
During this period, she gets more than 200 customers daily, though this number may also include those who come to rent costumes for their dinner-and-dance parties or for occasions such as Oktoberfest - all happening within the same period, she says.
Make-up artists, too, are sinking their fangs into Halloween, though many partygoers still prefer to save on the service by doing their own make-up.
Demand for special effects make-up services - to create ghostly looks of vampires and witches from Hollywood, Thai or Korean flicks - jumps about five times as compared to regular months, says Ms Rezani Ramli, 38, owner of Makeover Magix.
She gets an average of three to five customers a month who ask for special effects make-up. The theatrical effects to go with the revelry is all in good fun, says Ms Png.
"Singaporeans, in general, have money and like to party, so Halloween is a good excuse," she adds. But a note of caution to revellers: Do not overaccessorise, particularly if you are planning to drink alcohol.
"The more experienced customers tend to not rent props, such as a handsaw, because they are planning to get drunk and know they might lose them," says Ms Png, who charges a fee for lost items.
"But for first-timers who want value for money, they tend to take on as many props and accessories as possible, making it difficult for them to enjoy Halloween as they are bogged down by so many items," she adds.
To help you along, Life!Weekend offers tips and tricks to a convenient Halloween next month, so you can do your make-up and rent a costume to take you straight from the office to the party.
1. ACM After Dark: Mystic Asia
What: Take the kids to this family-friendly event, with a kuda kepang (meaning horse dance, a nod to the wooden horses used in the traditional Javanese dance) performance and Chinese opera based on a supernatural tale. There will also be talks on supernatural objects in the gallery and spiritual practices of religions.
Where: Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place
When: Oct 26, 7 to 11pm Admission: Free
2. Singapore Zombie Walk
What: Join a horde of zombies as they trudge through The Cathay to "infect" the living. There will also be Wii gaming stations and rock band performances. Where: The Cathay, 2 Handy Road
When: Oct 26, from 7.30pm (walk starts at 9pm)
Admission: Free, but organisers ask that participants bring at least two canned foods or non-perishable items to support Food Bank Singapore, which is the walk's charity.
Info: www.geekcrusade.com/tag/ singapore-zombie-walk
3. Sentosa Spooktacular
What: Get scared by Thai horror at this year's Spooktacular, with five horror trails based on stories of flicks such as Shutter (2008), Body (2007), Coming Soon (2008), Dorm (2006) and Pee Mak (2013, above).
Where: Fort Siloso (board the Ghost Rider bus or the Ghost Rider beach tram from Beach Station) When: Oct 19, 25, 26, 31, and Nov 1 and 2, last entry to Fort Siloso is 9.30pm
Admission: $66.60 for a standard ticket Info: www.spooktacular.com.sg
4. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Singapore
What: Join the three Sisters of Evil, banished witches reincarnated as three ghostly characters who will unleash a night of terror. There will be three haunted houses and three immersive scare zones, including a voyage aboard the Adrift in New York zone, the Lost World Zone and a bloodbath massacre at the Chinese Opera Academy.
Where: Resorts World Sentosa
When: Oct 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 31, and Nov 1 to 3, 7pm to 1am
Admission: $68 for a general admission pass Info: www.halloweenhorrornights.com.sg
5. Escape to 'Hell'oween - Horror Creeps Within
What: Walk through haunted army barracks, including a cookhouse and forested area, to find an officer who is possessed by an evil spirit.
Where: D'Marquee, Downtown East, 1 Pasir Ris Close
When: Oct 25 and 26, 6 to 11pm Admission: $18
Info: www.downtowneast.com.sg/events/escape_ to_helloween_horror_creeps_within PARTIES
6. Zombieland: The Ultimate Zombie Party
What: A rave party with "zombies" and an international DJ line-up including Reid Stefan from the United States and DJ Ono from Thailand.
Where: Wavehouse Sentosa, 36 Siloso Beach Walk When: Oct 26, 9pm till late
Admission: $58 on event day
7. The Silver Scream: Zouk Halloween
What: Watch Asian, classic and sci-fi horror movies at this nightspot, with prizes for best classic horror, Asian, sci-fi and group costumes. Free and priority entry is given to those in full costume.
Where: Zouk, 17 Jiak Kim Street
When: Oct 26, doors open at 9pm
Admission: $28 (women) and $35 (men), includes two drinks
Look right for the night
- For a more realistic look, stir up your own concoction of edible fake blood, says make-up artist Danielle Zhao, 26, owner of Yao's Makeup. This could be a mix of red food colouring, corn syrup, Ribena syrup and even pipa gao - a Chinese herbal cough syrup - to achieve the "brownish-red colour and thick consistency of blood", she says. Mix it in equal proportions, gulp it and let it dribble from your lips, leaving a reddish trail.
- Make sure your face is free of oil, if you want make-up to last the entire night. Start off with an oil-free primer, then apply a foundation a few shades lighter than your usual shade, says Ms Zhao. To amp up the pale ghoulish look, mix your foundation with tinted colours such as blue, green or black.
- To create a simulated burn, try using cheap materials such as gauze, cotton wool or tissue. For example, spread a thin shred of cotton wool and place it flat on skin, then paint it over with brownish-red colouring.
- Use the right make-up tools in all the wrong places, says freelance make-up artist Yvonne Lam, 33. For example, you can trace red lip-liner or red eyeshadow at the undereye area, so the eyes look bloodshot, she says.
- If you want to keep your belongings close by for the night, get a clutch that matches your costume or character, says Ms Stacy Qian, 21, operations manager at online costume store Candy Cotton Cosplay.
For example, some customers like to dress as the boy character Ash Ketchum from the Japanese anime Pokemon. The character wears a pouch on his belt, which comes in handy for storing cash and mobile phones, says Ms Qian.
- Some partygoers strap a travel belt around their waists under baggy outfits, says Ms Betty Png, 58, owner of costume shop Masquerade in Lavender.
But what if customers want to don a tight leather number? "Customers just stuff cash in their underwear, keeping it close," she says. "It sounds strange, but they just stuff it snugly in their waistband - just in case they get drunk."
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