Should you find yourself sitting at a bar between BoJack Horseman and a pregnant handmaid in the coming days, just know that Halloween has always been a time of uncanny juxtapositions. The ancient Celts believed it was a liminal day at the border between light and dark parts of the year, when the barrier between the spirit and corporeal worlds becomes permeable, allowing ghosts and gods to frolic among the living. That’s why we dress up as ghosts — if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The fact that Halloween has since expanded into an excuse to binge on candy, dress up pets and shake down the neighbors — well, that’s testament to the holiday’s endless elasticity, and an apt fate for a celebration of blurred boundaries. If these traditions aren’t strange enough for you, we found some truly random Halloween mashups you might like better.
National Gallery of Art, West Building, Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW; Sat., 1-3 p.m., $40.
Unaffiliated with the National Gallery of Art, a company called Adventures for Creative Tourists is hell-bent on changing the minds of people who think art is boring. On this walking tour of the gallery, Shakespearean actor Stephen Mead will guide you to the most hallucinogenic and vivid paintings of otherworldly creatures.
The Comedy Loft at Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St. NW; Sun., 6-9 p.m.; sold out.
Immerse yourself in the spooky world of Slavic folktales with George Washington University folklorist Philippa Rappoport. In these stories, magic dolls open doors to the netherworlds, where heroines like Vasilisa the Beautiful battle witches and other evil spirits.
Penn Social, 801 E St. NW; Mon., 7-10 p.m.; $15.
”Ill Will” author Dan Chaon and “House of Leaves” scribe Mark Z. Danielewski are among the writers who will read from their work and discuss what their scary fiction has to say about real-life fears. (Ticket includes one drink.)
Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Sun., 2 & 4 p.m., $15-$18.
Does a classical concert sound scary to you? Never fear, this 60-minute performance is perfect for kids and those with short attention spans. NSO musicians dressed as ghouls and ghosts will perform music from the Oscar-winning Dia de los Muertos-themed film “Coco.”
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, 8270 Alumni Drive, College Park, Md.; Mon., 7:30 p.m., free.
Three ensembles from the University of Maryland’s music program will play spooky songs from the golden era of jazz to today. Among the selections are “Tarantula” by David Springfield and the funky jazz standard known as “Critical Mass.”
Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; Nov. 4, 3-5 p.m. $15-$20.
At this concert, the volunteer-run Symphony of the Potomac will be spooking audiences with a Halloween-inspired program that includes Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.
Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.; Fri., 7:30-11:30 p.m., adults: $11; kids under 17: $6.
Folk dancers in macabre costumes will compete for prizes at the Halloween edition of this weekly shindig, which features live musicians and a dance caller. Arrive early to learn the steps.
Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road NW; Wed., 7-10:30 p.m., $25-$40.
Have a costume that involves sweeping skirts or sequins? You’ll fit right in at this classy soiree, where early arrivals can learn how to tango, salsa and dance the Viennese waltz. Then, show off your steps in the French Embassy’s ballroom — or just stuff your face with French pastries and wine.
Slash Run, 201 Upshur St. NW; Wed., 6:30-7:30 p.m., free.
Head-bang for your health at this rock ’n’ roll aerobics class, where you’ll learn dance moves fit for ’80s video vixens. Finish with a spirited sendup of “Monster Mash,” and then drink all the calories you just burned off with free apple cider and half-price drafts at the bar.
Leather and metal
411 New York Ave. NE; Sat., 10 a.m.-1 p.m., free.
The only ticket you need for this freewheeling event is a costume and a hog (or a moped, or a scooter). The biker party begins with coffee and doughnuts, and ends with a barbecue at a dirt-race bike track. What’s in the middle? Lots of revving engines and eating dust, we imagine.
The Passenger, 1539 Seventh St. NW; Sat., 6:20 p.m., & Sun., 4 p.m., $8-$10.
Showcasing 11 very loud bands, this concert is sure to horrify your otologist. The groups rocking it out Halloween-style include power-punk trio Menage A Garage, melodic rockers Jenny Hates Techno and Nirvana tribute band The Dope Mopes.
1843 Seventh St. NW; open through Oct. 31.
The Drink Company’s Halloween pop-up bar is based on Richmond’s long-running (and costumed) death-metal parody band GWAR. Take photos in the hall of blood or with a disemboweled body, or just enjoy the creative cocktails, like the tequila and watermelon Slaughterama-rita.
The Comedy Loft at Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St. NW; Wed., 8-10 p.m., $10-$13.
Local comedian Simone will preside over this Halloween comedy showcase, which will include a mummy-wrap race, a costume parade and trick-or-treat trivia. The scary lineup of jokesters includes Ali Cherry, Curt Mariah, Blaire Postman and Leon Scott.
Cissel-Saxon American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring; Sat., 7-8:30 p.m., $15-$20.
Gallows humor will abound at this veteran-anchored show, starring the quick-witted comedian and Air Force vet Haywood Turnipseed Jr., who’ll be joined by Army alum and rising comedy star Monica Welham. Costumes are encouraged, as is the imbibing of candy-corn cocktails.
The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW; Tue., 7:30-10:30 p.m., $5.
Got stage fright? Face your fears by taking the stage at this Halloween show and open mic, hosted by absurdist comedian Jamie Benedi. Too scary? Compete in the costume contest, or sit back and binge on free snacks while laughing at the lineup of local stand-ups