10 great places to go incognito


By Sarah Sekula, Published in USA Today

For those who can’t get enough of Halloween, there’s more than one time of year to traipse around in disguise. Jeralyn Gerba, senior features editor at dailycandy.com, tells Sarah Sekula for USA TODAY her favorite places to stylishly go incognito.

Burning Man
Black Rock Desert, Nev.
This annual event (Aug. 29-Sept. 5) is a festival packed with art and otherworldly outfits. “Not only can you make up your own style of costume, you can make up a name, persona, doppelgänger or creation story for yourself,” Gerba says. “Stay one step ahead of the game with goggles (for sudden sandstorms), utilitarian boots (for climbing into, out of, and on various sculptures, structures and vehicles), and a scarf (for sudden drops in temperature).” 415-863-5263; burningman.com

Carnaval de Barranquilla
Barranquilla, Colombia
“Be prepared to salsa dance all over the street in this annual late-night rumba (March 5-8), which showcases indigenous music and merrymaking,” Gerba says. “Think sexy carnival attire, something bright and ruffled with skin in the middle.” carnavaldebarranquilla.org

New France Festival
Quebec City
“The French fest favors 17th-century-style garb, with all the delightfully over-the-top trappings of Versailles. This is time travel true to its historic roots, so if you can muster strength for a corset (or a codpiece), you’ll really look like you belong,” Gerba says. “I’m partial to the period costumes of Marie-Antoinette‘s crowd — lavish, gilded and bustled.” The August event takes place in venues throughout the city. nouvellefrance.qc.ca/en

Various locations worldwide
“It’s a holiday democracy at this non-profit, non-political, ‘non-logical’ convention for would-be Kris Kringles,” Gerba says. “Everyone slips into the role of Big Red for one night of polite pub-crawling. Bushy white beards are a plus. Black shiny belts a must.” While the main purpose is to have fun, many SantaCon events (throughout December) also collect donations for charity. Santacon.info

Kentucky Derby
“Unless you’re a debutante, you’ll have no problem slipping onto the horse-racing grounds undetected,” Gerba says. “Witness the first jewel of the Triple Crown (May 7) bedecked in an oversized topper, a luxe stole and a pair of driving gloves. Men should aim to make a statement (pinstripe suits, derby hats).” 502-636-4400; kentuckyderby.com

Comic-Con International
San Diego
The largest convention of its kind, Comic-Con (July 21-24) is a must for devotees of comic books, film animation and video games. It’s the perfect place to transform into a superhero or villain. Don’t be surprised to spot elaborate Avatar getups, Mad Hatter look-alikes and anime favorites. 619-491-2475;comic-con.org

Gasparilla Pirate Festival
Swashbucklers unite in full pirate regalia at this raucous street festival (Jan. 29). Named after legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, who stormed Florida’s west coast during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the gathering begins with a mock invasion and ends with an explosive “Piratechnic Extravaganza.” 813-251-8844;gasparillapiratefest.com

Jazz Age Lawn Party
New York
Sample summery cocktails, swing dance to Big Band music and enjoy a picnic at this 1920s-style gathering. “This party calls for serious head-to-toe fashioning, from a jaunty fedora down to spit-shined saddle shoes. Pearls, straw boaters, canes and seersucker act as a mere setting for all the classy dance moves taking over Governors Island.” dreamlandorchestra.com

Krewe du Vieux
New Orleans
This Mardi Gras Carnival krewe features “themes and floats that are politically charged, a little risqué and accompanied by the best marching bands in NOLA,” Gerba says. “On this collective night of catharsis, (Feb. 19 next year), it’s all about mocking and resolving the errors and follies of the past year.” A theme likely to be popular for the 2011 parade will be costumes referencing the BP oil spill. “Crude du Vieux, perhaps?” kreweduvieux.org

Day of the Dead
San Francisco
This holiday honoring departed loved ones is big in Mexico. But it’s becoming popular in the USA, too, including in San Francisco, where a procession and exhibit of altars is on Nov. 2 in the Mission District. Paint your face to look like a skull, and you’ll blend right in, Gerba says. dayofthedeadsf.org