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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Congress’ extra visitors

    Savannah Douglas
    Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat Hotel Congress, located in downtown Tucson, will be opening the room on the top floor of the hotel to the public this October. The room has not been opened since the fire in 1934.

    At nearly a century old, Hotel Congress has seen countless guests come and go — and it’s widely believed that some have never left.

    A series of séances on the hotel’s third floor invites guests to experience an area of the hotel that has remained closed off to the public for nearly 80 years. “The Room” aims to bring 30 guests into hotel room 328, and, with the help of local magicians The Brothers Macabre and Dr. Jonathan Arcane, find out if Hotel Congress has a few extra visitors.

    The event was inspired by the aftermath of a fire in 1934 that claimed nearly the entire third floor of the hotel — with the exception of room 328. Although no one was killed in the fire, the room remained unoccupied until recently, when the large swamp cooler that sat inside was removed, said David Slutes, the hotel’s entertainment director.

    The hotel is largely believed to be haunted, with some visitors finding strange figures in photos taken inside the hotel and others reporting sightings of a small girl on the second floor. As it has remained untouched since the fire, room 328 seems to carry an eerie presence for most who have been inside.

    “It’s weird,” Slutes said of the room. “You see how at one point it was a great room because it’s on the third floor … but it’s creepy. It’s super creepy because it’s just a lot of old stuff that hasn’t been touched for years.”

    The event brings 30 visitors inside the room, where the magicians lead an hour-and-a-half process to “channel the realm of the unliving,” said Kenny Stewart, one of the two magicians who make up The Brothers Macabre. The room, he said, serves as the “portal” to the other side.

    “Sitting in this room, basically we’re just sort of channeling those particular energies of people past,” Stewart said. “We’re basically conducting experiments.”

    Séances will be held at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and attendees will be given a break for champagne and hors d’oeuvres during each show before returning to the room for the second half.

    With half the month and two events already past, Slutes said the response to the event has been largely positive.

    “Everyone’s come out and said it’s a really good event,” Slutes said. “I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s fairly intimate. … You get to be in the place; you get to be in this room; you get to feel it.”

    Stewart wouldn’t provide much description of the “manifestations” that presented themselves in past events, saying that he would leave the “movements in the background” up to the audience’s interpretation.

    “I think there’s a level of uncomfortability — definitely a level of dark puzzlement,” Stewart said. “For ‘The Room’ at Hotel Congress, no two shows have been the same.”

    “The Room” is part of the hotel’s goal to add a historic twist to the events it hosts, Slutes added.

    “It adds context and richness to everything,” he said. “You add real depth to these events, and people go away with a more substantial experience. This place exudes it, and not to talk about the building and the place you’re in and having such a unique venue would be a shame.”

    — Follow Arts Editor Kyle Mittan @KyleMittan

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