Bwog freelancer Kate Linthicum followed the Potluck House kids north last night. 

subwayWhat do you get when 40 rambunctious college students descend on a notorious Bronx park for a moonlit drum circle? The NYPD, apparently.

The costumed revelers at last night’s “Hotluck” Halloween party learned that the hard way when police swooped down on their party in Van Cortlandt park, ending the night early with a spirited sprint through the city’s northernmost borough.

It all started, harmlessly enough, with a cryptic e-mail a few days before. Circulated by members of the “Potluck House,” a Columbia special interest housing group, the e-mail told of a secret Halloween soiree. The organizers didn’t say where it would be held, but they instructed interested partiers to congregate at 116th and Broadway with flashlights and noise-making devices.

Dozens of students showed up, some in elaborate costumes. They milled around excitedly while one member of the Potluck House tried to prep them for the party. “Please use the buddy system,” she pled. “Things might get crazy.” Then she led everybody to the subway station.

trainWithin minutes, the entire group had pressed into a single uptown one train and unleashed a cacophony of noise. They pounded on their drums and pots and pans, stomped their feet and howled wildly. The other people on the train just looked on tiredly.

As the train sped north, some students chatted with one another about their costumers. One girl in skin-tight pants explained her look to a friend. “I’m secretly a hipster,” she said, gesturing to the headphones slung around her neck. “Tonight I’m coming out.”

The party continued until the last stop. Then the group was led out of the station, down the street, and to Van Cortlandt Park. The park closes each night at dusk, but that didn’t stop anyone. They marched right in, still banging their drums and pans.

stairsThe park was dark and empty, and looming trees cast creepy shadows on the parade. As they trekked farther in, the students became strangely childlike. Many started to skip and call out into the night with glee. “This is what it felt like on Fourth of July when I was seven!” one girl shouted.

Eventually, they arrived at their destination–a dusty baseball diamond in the middle of a huge field. Within seconds the music and the dancing broke out in full force, and soon someone initiated a game of “freeze dance.” The drumming got louder and the gyrating more frantic, and the lights from the city cast the group in an eerie green glow. From afar, they must have looked like they were taking part in a cultish ritual.

Maybe that’s what the police thought, because they suddenly came hurtling across the field toward the dancers in an NYPD SUV. “The cops!” everyone started shouting. “Run!” The crowd immediately dispersed as people sprinted off in different directions to escape the approaching headlights. They ran fast and excitedly. “I haven’t done this since high school,” one person shouted. “It’s kind of fun!”

This bwogger caught a gypsy cab downtown, but word has it that everyone eventually straggled back to the subway station. It appeared the buddy system had
partyworked: There were no reports of anyone getting apprehended by the police or lost in the labyrinthine park.

When they boarded the train to head back downtown, they again took up their instruments. Some reported that the music was even louder than it had been on the ride up. Though the park party didn’t pan out, it was an important lesson in revelry: It doesn’t matter where the party is, as long as you decide to be the party.