Some could call it an omen, but in its 13th year, the annual Skinful Halloween party can’t seem to secure a home. Controversy has swirled around the event that has jumped from venue to venue in the past few weeks.
For organizers of the event, it’s been difficult to find a community with open arms for the party that has attracted several thousand people in the past.
“I’ll be honest with you. It’s a pain in the butt,” said Raymond Covington, who lives just blocks away from the Brick House Kitchen on James Island, where organizers announced the party will return to this year.
Covington, 36, pointed at trash, stragglers and loud music as reasons to dislike the bash in his neighborhood, where it’s occurred the past few years.
Shut out of several sites and left searching for a venue just a week before the event, scheduled for Oct. 26, organizers announced on Friday they were returning the event to Brick House on Folly Road.
“This has been a crazy ride but we have finally come full circle,” the event’s website stated.
But even that locale isn’t set in stone. Charleston County spokesman Shawn Smetana said a special events permit has not yet been applied for. It remained unclear Friday afternoon if a permit is necessary for this event.
Barney Lafayette, 60, has heard the music from his home on Fort Johnson Road in years past. He said there’s a way to find a happy medium.
“It really doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I wouldn’t deny a person or persons to have a great time. It’s a matter of respecting the neighborhood.”
Lafayette said as long as the law enforcement presence remains as strong as it did last year, he’s content with the event happening there.
Charleston County sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said after being notified Friday about the event’s return, deputies would indeed be back out there providing traffic enforcement.
Skinful organizers had originally decided to move the event from Brick House this year because of the passage of an ordinance in the area curtailing noise after 11 p.m.
So they arranged to hold the party at a 70-acre farm in rural Meggett, complete with on-site parking and camping. Organizers said they obtained a business license from the town, booked talent such as hip-hop artist Flavor Flav and began promoting the event. A week later, the town informed them a zoning change was needed — a process that would take at least six weeks, according to the Facebook post.
Then, Skinful planners had set their sights on salvaging the massive party by squeezing it into Music Farm. But less than a day after those plans were announced, city of Charleston officials said they were told by the Ann Street club that no such event was scheduled.
David Brisacher accused the city of leaning on Music Farm to get Skinful out of there. “It’s really interesting why some people decided to try to pick this fight,” Brisacher said. Representatives with Music Farm could not be reached for comment.
Brisacher said he doesn’t understand why Skinful has become the target of such scrutiny.
“It’s very interesting to me that the things that are violent and the normal kind of scary Halloween, like ‘Fright Nights’ (at Boone Hall) are OK, but if you make something sexy instead of scary, somehow people get upset,” Brisacher said. “I’m not sure why they react the way that they do.”
Organizers had to adjust the plans for Skinful when moving it back to Brick House. The amount of guests will be limited and the party will be contained inside the fenced area, according to the event planners.
The bash will also get started earlier than usual. The music will start being played at 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Organizers said they would abide by the 11 p.m. noise ordinance by holding a ‘silent disco’ between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., in which partygoers wear wireless headphones that broadcast the music played by the DJ’s.
The amplified music will be turned off at 11 p.m., in accordance with the noise ordinance, Brisacher said.
“Its kind of like the best alternative around the noise stuff,” he said.
Brisacher, who runs Big Hair Productions, said silent discos have become increasingly popular in the Charleston area recently.
“People have been doing that a lot lately because of the noise ordinances getting stricter over the years,” he said.
But Covington, who lives nearby and has worked in security for big events and festivals similar to Skinful, isn’t convinced just yet.
“It could be a safety hazard,” he said. “I just don’t know.”
Brisacher said he doesn’t understand why there’s such a “misconception” about what the party is really like. ”It’s just a costume party,” he said. But neighbors like Lafayette said without the proper safety precautions in place, it can unfortunately turn into much more than a party. Lafayette recalled the year when a party attendee was killed while crossing Folly Road in 2011, allegedly run down by another partygoer.
A lawsuit filed by the victim’s father against Skinful and one of it’s organizers, Brian King, is still pending.
Glenn Smith contributed to this report. Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.