The Evites are flowing in. Flyers are circulating. Every bar and club in town is planning a Halloween costume bash. “Heaven and Hell” is a popular theme again this year — it’s easy to decorate, and everyone loves to dress as sexy angels and devils. And hey — the 7 deadly sins? Plenty of creative costume fodder there. We have an Enchanted Forest party for the wood sprites and water nymphs, a fog-filled Haunted Mansion where partiers can enjoy bottle service by French maids and girlie ghosts, and a vamp-filled Victorian and Fetish ball where you’ll fit in whether you like it naughty or nice.

Of course, this weekend is just the beginning, and the following weekend (28th & 29th) is when most of the big events take place. But if you are like me, and you love yourself a lotta Halloween fun, it’s fine to start early. My pick for this weekend? Start slowly, and hit the 6th annual Black Tie Masquerade Gala at the Walnut Foundry. Wear a fancy mask (think Mardis Gras, Victorian) and a fancy dress for this party with a fashion show, champagne receptions, music, hors d’oeuvres, dessert buffet and fire dancers. Last year’s event at the Parkside Mansion was fun, but this is a tame and tasteful event compared to the wild, drunken costume parties that will take over the town soon enough. And since the $20 GA and $35 VIP tickets (available Friday night at the door) will benefit the hurricane victims through the Red Cross, it’s a great reason and a great way to warm up for the wild times to come.