“It’s beginning to smell a lot like Krampus”


Ypsilanti’s fifth annual Krampus festivities are scheduled to take place the night of Saturday, December 20… so you’d best start sewing your pelts and practicing your dance moves.

This year we’re going to be doing a few things differently. It’ll still be the big, ass-shaking, anti-holiday dance party you’ve come to know and love. And it’ll still culminate in an awesome torchlit procession through the dark streets of Ypsilanti. But we’ve decided to change things up a bit in order to keep things fresh. First, we’ll be starting the evening at Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theater instead of at the Corner Brewery. This not only gives us more time to decorate and the like, but it means that, throughout the night, we can, if the mood strikes us, call on a host of puppets to dance with us and slap our sweaty bottoms. And that, we think, is invaluable. Second, we will not have a special brew, like we have in the past. So, if you’re looking forward to another “naughty” feta, beet and peanut butter concoction that’ll make you pee bright red for 24 hours, we can’t help you. This year, instead, we’ll be joined by our friends at Go Ice Cream, who will be dishing out Dirty Snowball Sundaes and Vegan Dirty Snowball Sundaes. (We’ll also have beer and wine, so don’t you worry about that.) And, third, unlike last year, the route of our drunken midnight march will not take us in the path of any speeding trains. No, we’ve planned a much safer route, and arranged for guides… This year, our procession will be led by an authentic Balkan marching band. They’re called ρυτά μουσική (Rhyta Musik) and you can listen to them here.

Here, for those of you who still aren’t sure if you’d like to attend, are four links. If you follow them, I think you’ll get a pretty good sense as to what the event is all about: 2010 recap, 2011 recap, 2012 recap, 2013 recap.

And here, if you’re unfamiliar with the backstory, is a clip from something that I posted way back in 2010, just before Ypsi became the first community in the midwest to welcome Krampus.

krakpusposter2014…I’ve been fascinated with Krampus for the past several years, since I first learned of his existence through my friend, the cultural anthropologist of all things strange and Fortean, Doug Skinner. Doug had sent me a turn-of-the-century Austrian greeting card. On it, Krampus, a large, shaggy, bipedal horned beast with wild, flaming eyes and a forked tongue, was lashing plump, rosy-cheeked children and stuffing them into sacks… I was hooked.

With Doug’s help, I began to learn about this fellow, who, in addition to Krampus, has gone by names such as Knecht Ruprecht, Perchten, Pelznickel, Black Peter, and Klaubaur. According to pre-Christian Alpine tradition, while old St. Nick went about the business of handing out treats to the good children at the turn of the new year, old Krampus would be dispatched to punish the bad. He, in other words, was the stick to Santa’s carrot – a tool used to ensure good behavior. Children, if they were good, would get candy and presents. And, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t just get lumps of coal come Christmas morning – they’d be thrown into the pits of hell by a cloven-footed monster covered in matted black fur. But, as brilliant of an idea as it is, for whatever reason, Krampus hasn’t made the leap to the shores of America, where all the children, regardless of how evil and disrespectful they might be, can expect to be rewarded with video games and cigarettes come yule-tide.

In countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia, however, he’s still very much a part of the Christmas tradition…

So, if you get burned out on holiday parties and find that you could use an unseasonably dark release, or if you just find yourself wanting to lash out against the over-commercialization of Christmas, or even if you just like dressing up and drinking beer, come and join us as we take back the holiday season on behalf of Santa’s dark assistant…

And, for what it’s worth, our version isn’t terribly dark. It’s more like a glam, sci-fi monster dance party… Just imagine the cantina scene from Star Wars, only maybe a little sexier, and with a bit more spanking.

Here, to get you in the mood, if you’re not already, is Ypsi’s own Black Jake performing the holiday favorite, Krampus Bells.

[For more information, check out our Facebook Event page.]

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  1. Posted December 11, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Jake’s video, by the way, appeared on Telemundo today… Krampus fever, it would seem, is spreading south.

  2. Posted December 12, 2014 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, Mark; glad you like it! As far as the Telemundo thing goes, I’m told that the gist was fairly anti-Krampus. The old lady offering incense to her porcelain statues said it was devil worship, and the lady at the end said that terrifying children for Christmas was bad somehow. I don’t speak Spanish.

  3. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    I think I just now caught Krampus fever. Thanks a lot Telemundo.

  4. Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink


    I will not be attending.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    This is the perfect holiday for Ypsilanti.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The posters should say “Peter Larson will not be attending”.

  7. Spirit of Krampus
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Just to clarify, the presence of ice cream does not make this a family friendly event. If you come with kids, they will be eaten.

  8. Go Ice Cream
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Dude, I’m so excited for it. The Dirty Snowballs are gonna be so much fun. Goal is to make them as gnarly looking as possible, but taste thoroughly amazing. If only I could convince partygoers to throw them at each other like real snowballs and have it turn into a giant ice cream fight. Maybe next year…?

  9. Steve Swan
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Will there be British face-sitters?


  10. 734
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Local Face Sitters only please.

  11. Posted December 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    i am so confused….. i must attend…..

  12. Posted December 12, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    I will not be attending.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    That’s too bad. I totally wanted to face sit with you, Dr. Larson.

  14. EOS
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey Mark,

    You made mlive’s top 5 list of things to do this weekend.

  15. Eel
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    “Do Mark Maynard,” made the list?

  16. Mike Johnston
    Posted December 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Just as the midnight march started, some dude happened to walk out of Deja Vu, saw a mob forming with demon horns and tubas, and went right back inside. It was nowhere near as funny as this
    but still memorable.

One Trackback

  1. By A Last Minute Guide to Krampus - on November 12, 2015 at 11:43 am

    […] 5th Annual Krampus Ball in Ypsilanti, MI […]

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