The redevelopment that has spat out a new version of Durham's Ninth Street—now featuring atrocities such as Tijuana Flats and Panera Bread—is a lot scarier than any Halloween costume.
Even scarier is having to drive to Chapel Hill's Halloween party on Franklin Street. That's why it's a relief that Monsters Ball is returning to Ninth Street with a slate of DJs and a $500 prize for best costume.
In 2008, Durham's Jeff Johnson helped create a Halloween street party that he hoped would rival Chapel Hill's. What was intended to be a parade down Ninth Street turned into an electrifying costume party in Metro 8 Steakhouse. It was dubbed Monsters Ball, and for three years it was one of Durham's hottest parties. Then Johnson and King Kenney—the party-promoting duo "Jeff and King"—put it on hold.
"I felt a little partied out," Johnson says. "I wanted to take a little break and assess the scene." And Kenney moved to New York.
In the three years since, Johnson has watched Durham's party and club culture take on a different personality—one that he's happy about, as far as you can tell through his deadpan demeanor. "It seems like in our absence, there's been a lot of people who are willing to take the time out to do parties," he says. "So I felt like now is the perfect time to do something because people are willing to dance again."
Jeff and King will help Toon and the Real Laww, the de factor successors to their party run, facilitate and host. The only difference from previous years is the prefab revitalization across the street—and maybe some new faces under those masks. "We're doing our best to get a cross-section or to get people who haven't been going out as much because they don't feel that Durham has been keeping it dirty enough," says Johnson.
"Also, there are new kids out there—skateboard kids who maybe wanna go to some parties too," he continues. "Before Ninth Street was redeveloped, no one was doing a Halloween party. We want to bring the focus back on Durham."