The Empty Bottle played host April 14 to a lively group of undead revelers. Attendees of the Zombie Prom, a benefit event for Arts of Life, wore torn tuxedos, shredded skirts and freaky face paint all in the name of charity.
"We are a community of artists, with and without disabilities, who work together to promote self-respect, independence and to create amazing art," said Bronwyn Kelly, board president for the Arts of Life. "It's one of the smaller ways this community of people can feel empowered." The living dead prom goers, whose admission fees will go towards art supplies for the non-profit, got to shuffle their feet to the sounds of the Chicago-based James Brown tribute band Get Up With The Get Downs and classic rock cover band Wild Blue Angel. Both bands and the Empty Bottle donated their time and space for the charity event.
View photos of Empty Bottle's Zombie Prom
Zombie Prom attendee Carlos Castillo, whose thrift-store suit was covered in fake blood and missing its left sleeve, said he and his girlfriend came out to have fun and give back to their community.
"The arts is always one of those programs that's always cut first in any economic situation. You do get to drink and dance, but underneath it all it's for a good cause," said Castillo.
And much like a traditional prom, this zombified version came complete with a photo shoot and contest for prom queen. Two Arts of Life artists, Tim Stone and Dave Krueger, both of whom live with developmental disabilities, were chosen by the organization to be prom kings.
Meanwhile, Tara Nulte, a South Loop resident and musician, was voted Zombie Prom queen. Nulte's prize? A portrait to be painted by an Arts of Life artist.
"It's an honor," Nulte said through a good-natured laugh. "I look forward to hanging [the painting] in my home and giving my parents a print."
The Arts of Life, whose staff works on a volunteer basis, said it would like make the Zombie Prom benefit an annual event.
Brandon Campbell is a RedEye special contributor.