It’s time again for thousands of people to come rushing through Isla Vista to crowd our streets, take up our parking, extend the line at Freebirds and generally tear this city to the ground for three days. While the clusterfuck of out-of-towners is mostly just an inconvenience for all who live here (how many cars have you seen get trashed each year?), there are some pleasurable parts to the spectacle that is UCSB Halloween.

First of all, you get to be someone else for as many nights as you feel like dressing up. One night you could be a Jedi showing off your lightsaber, while the next night you’re a convict getting down while being cuffed by Officer Nasty. Maybe while you are running around throwing turtle shells at people in your Mario Kart, Princess Peach will come out of nowhere and grab you by the stick shift. There are so many awesome costumes every year, and picking out something original can be tough. Not that you have to be original to get a girl on DP on Halloween night. In fact, most of the revelers I’ve seen women pick from the crowd are generally lacking in creativity. Not that the men will complain about girls prancing around in whatever shows the most skin for the one night it’s socially acceptable to do so. Still, it goes a long way to see signs of novelty in costume choice for those of us who like more in our potential partners than just a killer ass. So if you haven’t thought about what you will be by now, I suggest you get on it.

Playing dress-up can add an element of excitement to any encounter, but be sure to play it safe. With the influx of non-UCSBers flooding Del Playa Drive, they’ll bring with them all sorts of diseases from whatever town they came from. And I’m not just talking about the itchy, smelly, blistery nastiness that every sex education class has warned you about; I figure you’ve been lectured enough and you know it’s important to wrap it before you tap it. I’m talking about swine flu. There’s not much you can do to protect yourself if you’re pushed up against 40,000 sweaty bodies on DP, but take notice of whether a potential partner is sniffling or sneezing and consider finding a different mate.

Since the whole town is wall-to-wall, jammed full of people, there are going to be times where people will think it’s acceptable to grab asses under conditions of anonymity. This is the wrong approach. Not that anonymity is necessarily a bad thing (there’s something kind of kinky about a girl who wants you to refer to her as “Princess Jasmine” while you take her on a magic carpet ride) but the way to truly use the crowd in your favor is to go out and be sociable with as many people as possible. Think of it as a chance to brush up on your conversational skills without having to worry about anyone remembering you as a dumbass. If anything, all people will recall is that Inspector Gadget crashed and burned, not that you made a complete asshole of yourself in public. If the costume you’re wearing doesn’t guarantee this, our good friend Captain Morgan (also a sweet costume idea) will assure that your hilariously pathetic attempts at attracting a Halloween hookup remain forgotten.

The last thing I like about Halloween is that there is an element of parading around in whatever crazy outfit that brings out the kid in you. Being 10 games of beer pong deep and dressed like an anthropomorphic sponge certainly puts me in a more playful mood. I suggest you take this state of mind and apply it to your sexual escapades that night. Try new things, play around, laugh, have fun with each other. A little liquid courage might help, just don’t go too far overboard. But just to be safe, since it is Halloween, remember to wear a life jacket.