Meow Wolf’s ‘House of Eternal Return’ plays host for the 15th anniversary of the party that just won’t quit—the Moustachio Bashio

Eighteen years ago, a group of University of New Mexico undergrads saw fit to let their mustaches grow for the entire month in preparation for the school’s first-ever take on March Mustache Madness, a theme-party trend that emerged at college campuses across the US.

They never imagined the event would continue to flourish in the outside world, let alone become an entry in New Mexico’s party history. This year, despite multiple venue changes, a pandemic pause and the rigors of growing partial facial hair for at least 30 days out of the year, the local version of the party—dubbed the Moustachio Bashio—hits its 15th anniversary. Looking back, the Bashio’s staying power is kind of incredible.

“I wasn’t even there for the first one,” says Lando Rock, the man behind the operation. “The school’s frisbee team was throwing [the party] and I missed it. I was bummed. Next thing I know, some friends and I decided to take matters into our own hands and started organizing the thing ourselves. [In 2007], we found a house near campus…by the infamous third edition, which was held at the Press Club in Albuquerque—and got shut down by the cops at midnight—the game was on.”

What started as a mustache-centered college party grew from there to become an open-to-all costume extravaganza for those with or without facial hair.

“It’s not even about the mustache any more, it’s about vibing together with live music while being fully oneself…in disguise,” says Rock, who attended last year’s party as the Bashio’s unofficial mascot, The Bashio Wizard. “That’s why our theme is ‘your alter-ego party.’”

With the emphasis on costumes and alter-egos, Rock says, most attendees aim for the coveted best-costume bragging rights. Past contest winners include: Colonel Sanders, Aladdin and Hulk Hogan, along with group outfits, such as the Black Leather Bikers and Aerobics Team. The Bashio might even best be described as a wild, imaginative fashion show in which people parade their alter-egos on the dance floor while abiding by the party’s motto: Dress to confuse and inspire.

Of course, in 2020 the in-person version of the Moustachio Bashio was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rock and crew’s solution? They offered a streaming iteration in 2020, thereby allowing any disappointed would-be attendees to join in virtually, all dressed up in spite of the dire circumstances. In 2023, the Bashio returned at full power and in person.

“Last year there was a special vibe,” Rock recounts. “After not having the Bashio for three years because of the pandemic, people were frothing at the mouth to get together again.”

Said frothing aside, Rock says the return to form highlighted a need to make 2024′s party all the more special. Thus, though the Bashio began 18 years ago, organizers will count this weekend’s party as its 15th anniversary. And, Rock says, they won’t let the milestone year go by unnoticed. For the 15th iteration, the quinceañera coming-of-age-celebration is set to feature a star-studded line-up spread across two dance floors, including Colorado funk-masters Magic Beans and Bay Area-based electro-fusion ensemble Smoked Out Soul, as well as numerous bands and DJs from Albuquerque, such as psychedelic danceable soundscape artist Zenova; house masters Adobe Disco; the futurist Southwestern melodies of The Chachalacas; and mariachi from Que Onda.

The Bashio has always highlighted New Mexico artists of all stripes, from musicians and projection-mapping artists to filmmakers, performance artists and various other disciplines in between. On the visual art front this year, psychedelic painter Mr. Melty is slated to come alive in a live painting demo, while designer Hendrick Onderdonk will contemplate his own work by maximizing the décor. Participants can also reportedly expect the ghost of Bashio All-Time Costume Champion Ross White to mix in with the crowd. Any gamblers with an alter-ego? This year’s Moustachio Bashio includes a Lotería drawing for y’all to ease your itch for winning beyond your means.

Rock says word of mouth has attracted guests from Colorado, California and elsewhere since the Bashio started its tenure at Meow Wolf in 2017. Actually, he clarifies, Meow Wolf is the reason the party is even still going at all. See, the 10th anniversary of the party was meant to be its last until Meow Wolf officials offered up the space, making the Moustachio Bashio one of the longest-running dance parties in the Southwest. Meow Wolf is also no doubt a fitting location for this kind of show, what with its mysterious and borderline lysergic vibes. Discovering the House of Eternal Return in the midst of a blissful celebration with fabulous music blasting on two dance floors is a one-of-a-kind opportunity, and with capacity maxing out at around 500, the Bashio remains a somewhat exclusive event. The party could even expand down the road, according to Rock. For now, however, it will remain an in-state affair, and one not to miss in case it becomes the next trending desert fest everyone wants to attend.

15th Annual Moustachio Bashio: 8 pm Saturday, March 30. $50-$60. Meow Wolf, 1352 Rufina Circle, (505) 395-6369

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