A tall, imposing man coated in neon green paint, with large black circles colored around his eyes and a bright orange wig on his head, slams his baseball bat on the floor.
“Up against the wall!” he yells.
One side of the hallway is lined with skulls, the other is covered in demonic paintings that glow in the dark. High-pitched screams can be heard every few seconds from rooms beyond the hallway. The man approaches the next group in line.
“No photography,” he says with a glare. “You may enter now.”
One might assume that this scene occurred on or around Halloween. But in fact, it was Feb. 13. The Blood Manor in Manhattan was putting on their annual Bloody Valentines Weekend.
While some take to more romantic options like dinner or dancing, many prefer to spend Valentine’s Day in the city doing something they’ve never done before. And in New York City, that could mean a myriad of strange activities from attending an anthropomorphic insect shadowbox workshop to a Valentine’s Day cocktail-making class.
The Blood Manor, which has been running for 11 years but is only open during Halloween season and Valentine’s Day weekend, has to be one of the oddest. Participants walk through 14 rooms, a 3D maze, a pitch-black maze, and a laser hallway. The rooms all have themes, from clowns to scorned lovers. The scenes are loosely tied to Valentine’s Day. Co-owner Jim Faro explained that despite the romantic nature of the holiday, business is booming for the creepy tour.
“If the same amount of people that come on Valentine’s Day came every weekend, we’d be open every weekend,” he said. “People like it because it’s far enough away from October that they’re not like, I was just here.”
The attraction drew a steady stream of visitors on the eve before Valentine’s Day. Faro said the attraction doesn’t pull in any one type of group.
“We just had four twenty-something guys go through, then a group of six girls. And we always see couples,” he said.
As one couple stood in line, they admitted that it wasn’t a mutual decision to attend the Blood Manor.
“He thought it’d be a fun thing to do. He surprised me. This is our Valentine’s Day,” Kiki Adami, 37, said.
Two women a bit further down the line laughed nervously as they heard the screams and banging coming from the rooms they were about to enter.
“Every Valentine’s Day we find something weird to do together if we don’t have significant others,” Jennifer Day, 28, said. “This looked like it could be fun.”
Others looking for unusual Valentines Day plans travelled to Brooklyn to take tours of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, a sewage plant. Yes, a sewage plant. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hosted three tours of the facility on Feb. 14. When the environmental department released a statement on Feb. 4 saying that the tours would take place, they also said they had already received nearly 200 inquiries from people interested in attending. The tours, which last about an hour, give pedestrians a chance to see the wastewater treatment process firsthand.
“Since 2012, hundreds of couples and others celebrating Valentine’s Day have visited the plant to learn about New York City’s water supply and wastewater systems, while enjoying scenic views of the New York skyline from atop Newtown Creek’s iconic stainless steel digester eggs,” the city DEP said in a statement.
While some visited the sewage plant to see the purification of water, others took the opposite approach and went to theaters around the city to indulge in the highly anticipated kinky film, “50 Shades of Grey.” On Feb. 14 at 10:30 p.m., crowds poured into a theater on Broadway and 84th. The earlier showing of the movie had just let out.
As Jessica Tate, 30, left the theater she explained that the movie had surpassed her expectations. She’d thought she might fall asleep during the film but was pleasantly surprised.
“I just saw it. I’ve read all the books,” Tate said. “I didn’t come because it was Valentine’s Day specifically. I just came because this is when it opened.”
A couple entered the theatre as Tate left, arms around each other’s waists.
“We see a movie together every Valentine’s Day and when we were reserving tickets this year, one of us suggested this movie,” Andrew Smith, 34, said with a laugh. “I don’t remember who it was. Probably her.”
His girlfriend elbowed him and laughed too.
“Either way, I don’t think we really thought about what we were getting ourselves into until just now at the theatre,” Julie Callo, 31, said. “If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting night.”