Remember when we said to forget about “Krampus overload” this year and instead consider the equally scary tradition of the Yule Cat? Well, we were only half-serious… the spirit of Krampus may be growing more mainstream with each passing Holiday season, but the O.G. Krampus tradition – which goes back centuries to Germanic regions of Europe – is still alive and well.
This was proven last Saturday, December 7, when Torrance’s famous Alpine Village (home to one of California’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations) hosted the annual Los Angeles Krampus Run and Ball.
We got an all-access peek at the inner workings of this six-hour-long celebration, which began at 6 pm with the traditional “Krampus Run.” This event saw dozens of costumed Krampuses running rampant through the village’s main square, dipping in and out of the crowd to partake in the holiday tradition of “birching” – which involves the spanking of any attendees decreed to be “naughty” by a roaming Saint Nicholas performer with a bullhorn. Per tradition, this is done with brooms made of long, thin twigs… and many buttocks were duly chastised.
But that was just the beginning of the festivities: we also got to hang backstage with the band Krammpstein – which, as you can probably guess, is a fully-costumed Rammstein parody band, famous for tweaking the German industrial-metal icons’ lyrics to fit holiday themes, with a decidedly demonic edge.
Krammpstein co-founders and vocalists Greg Reynard (formerly of Green Jellÿ, best known for the hit single “Three Little Pigs”) and Tamara Joy Rettino graciously offered our cameras total freedom – starting with the green room they shared with the same army of elaborately-costumed Krampus players.
The shambling, bell-ringing, chain-rattling Krampus collective suited up again for their second grand entrance… this time inside the Alpine Ballroom, just before Krammpstein launched into their set. The procession (which included more birching) followed a roof-raising polka dance party, a spooky performance from Medieval-themed musical group Totendanse, and a ground-pounding set from another demon-costumed metal act, Rosemary’s Billygoat.
During the entire show, vendors plied their creepy holiday wares in the dining hall (including pieces by Zombolina, one of the artists we highlighted in our “How to Beat Those Post-Halloween Blues” article last month), much beer was chugged and spontaneous mosh pits formed, swirled and dispersed like mini-hurricanes… all while the band showered the crowd with cookies, candy and toys.
The rest, as they say, is history – but we also managed to document the Krampus Run and Krammpstein’s amazing performance in this collection of photos. Enjoy this recap, mark your calendar for next December, and try not to be too naughty this year… unless, of course, you’re prepared for Krampus to drag you to Hell!