Roseville’s first Vampire’s Ball looks for fun in dark shadows

By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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Long fangs and a little lace — that’s all it takes for Shannon McCabe to summon the gothic elegance truly befitting of a vampire’s Halloween.

McCabe has made a reputation as a devilishly unique party promoter, turning a small independent fang fest into one of the biggest costume parties in the region. Having outgrown the Sacramento club scene, McCabe’s chic Vampire’s Ball will be held this year in the crimson-flagged city of Roseville.

McCabe has been interested in elaborate Halloween celebrations since she was 14, when she began holding séances and Ouija Board sessions with her friends to mark the special night. In her early 20s, she was introduced to Ann Rice’s series of vampire novels, including “Interview with the Vampire” and “Queen of the Damned,” which led to an increasing fascination with the dark cultural icons.

“Vampires embrace and embody the essence of pleasure and pain, unending romance with the contrast of eternal life alone,” McCabe said. “I started watching and reading whatever I could to learn more about vampires. I even began doing interviews with actual vampires, or people who claimed to be.”

In 2009 McCabe hosted her very first Vampire’s Ball at The Asylum Club in Sacramento. Flush in the middle of “Twilight” movie hysteria, she anchored her party’s theme around characters in the blockbuster books and films, calling it, Twilight Prom – Tribute to Edward and Bella. Seeing a strong turnout for the event, she followed with a ball in 2010 based on HBO’s Louisiana trailer park vampire series, “True Blood,” and then in 2011 with a Halloween tribute to Francis Ford Coppola’s cult hit, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

In four Halloweens McCabe has watched the crowds for Vampire’s Ball grow from less than 100 to more than 400. The surging interest prompted her and co-promoter Wendy Williams to move this year’s event to the Placer Fairgrounds. Having 11,000 square feet to work with will allow McCabe, Williams and Special Effects Manager David Ainesworth to recreate ornate scenes from one their most enduring sources of inspiration for this year’s theme around the novels of Anne Rice.

The ball will feature belly dancers, courtyards, graveyards, a Plantation House, a plague house and the Theatre Des Vampires Coven. McCabe describes the scenes as interactive.  

“It’s going to be similar to a renaissance faire,” McCabe said, “where people can talk to the actors and be part of the scenes.”

In addition to three-dimensional ambiance, the Roseville Vampire’s Ball will also feature beer gardens with Spirit Brewery, wine tasting with Vampire Vineyards, cigar smoking with Fang Banger Cigars, a 8-foot tall traveling carousel unicorn, dancing and a live reunion show from the Sacramento 1990s Goth band, Vamp Lestat.

McCabe said her party is a more authentic Halloween celebration than its famous regional rival, the Exotic Ball at Cal Expo.

“Most of the people who come to our ball have intricate, handcrafted costumes,” McCabe said. “Our ball is about putting horror and theatrics back in Halloween, not G-strings.”

Williams was quick to point out that while many ball attendees are die-hard vampire fans, the event is not aimed at individuals who literally believe they are vampires or endeavor to live a true vampire lifestyle.

“Our ball is not about the vampire subculture,” Williams said. “In fact we’ve turned down several television show appearances because they wanted to portray that idea. There’s no actual biting or ‘blood-letting’ allowed at the ball. We’re about being the best Halloween party. The only interest we have in real blood is helping out our local blood banks by encouraging donations.”

Williams added that she grew up in Roseville and has a number of friends who live in the city that are anxious to go. One Roseville resident who plans on being at the event is Ginger Cleary, the ball’s 2012 Vampire Pin-up Queen. This year’s pin-up queen contest will be judged by Gary Wonder, owner of the new, soon-to-be opened Country Club Saloon in Loomis.

For McCabe, it’s now a matter of counting down the days.

“There’s just a certain romance around the vampire mystique,” she said. “Plus, I think every girl like to have their neck nibbled on.”



What: The Roseville Vampire's Ball

When: The Placer Fairgrounds in Roseville

When: Saturday, Oct. 27 from 8 to 2 a.m.

Cost: $17, $20 online with service fee

Tickets: visit