On Valentine's Day, go beyond the sweets for your sweetie

What could be more romantic than a candlelight dinner on Valentine's Day weekend?

Well, for some people, it's spending the evening in the dungeon of the ScareHouse.

The Halloween attraction in Etna is opening the doors of its Basement on Saturday to couples looking for something scary, extreme and likely extremely scary.

"It's less of a haunted house and more of an interactive and intense theatrical experience," says ScareHouse proprietor Scott Simmons. "Guests won't see many of the same characters from our Halloween season. We really wanted to try and create something unique just for Valentine's Day. I wanted to explore the twisted and obsessive nature of love and passion."

Although there is no nudity or graphic violence, it's an R-rated encounter with profanity, touching and adult subject matter.

"We are placing people in tight and dark spaces with very disturbing characters who will talk, confront and connect with guests in a very intimate and intense fashion," Mr. Simmons says. "We're taking inspiration from movies like 'Fatal Attraction' and 'Blue Velvet,' for example. It's based more on realistic encounters with disturbing characters than anything supernatural or 'spooky.' "

Guests are hereby encouraged to leave their bunnies at home. Each $45 ticket allows for two people to enter at once. They must be 18 or older and must sign a waiver before entering. Tickets are limited. Information: www.scarehouse.com or 412-781-5885. The Scarehouse is at 118 Locust St., Etna.

Skating Away

"Valentines on Ice" sounds like a Disney arena show, but really it's a Citiparks party at the Schenley Park Ice Rink Friday where couples can skate to romantic music without being annoyed by middle-school kids.

The first 300 couples will receive a rose compliments of Alex's Flowers.com in Oakland and sweets from Betsy Ann Chocolates. Inside, they can warm up with ballroom dance lessons from professional instructor Cathy Kelly, a mini-massage compliments of Massage Envy of Squirrel Hill and a souvenir photo.

The grand prize is a pair of tickets for a Pittsburgh Penguins game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 28 and an overnight stay with breakfast at the Holiday Inn in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

It runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is $4 per adult couple -- or $3 per student couple (with college IDs). Skate rental is $2.50, and skate sharpening is $3.50. This event is for ages 18 and older.

Information: 412-422-6523 or www.Citiparks.net.

Zombie Cuisine

What exactly are in zombie-themed dishes? Not even sure we want to know.

Double Wide Grill on the South Side will have them on the menu Friday at the House of Dead's My Zombie Valentine Dinner & Mixer.

Dinner will be "severed" from 5 to 10 p.m., there will be a "meet & eat" in the zombie lounge for single zombies, a zombie contest ($100 prize) and scary movies on the big-screen TVs.

It sold out last year, so make your reservations at 412-390-1111.

Heart-Shaped Box

The Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip invites people to think -- and create -- outside the box on Valentine's Day.

It is offering a Crafts & Drafts Studio workshop Friday called "Secret Messages," led by instructor and metalsmith Samantha Skelton, where visitors will learn how to cut, stamp, drill and finish copper to create wallet inserts, key chains or pendants with their personalized declarations of love.

The evening will feature craft beer from Church Brew Works. Tickets are $35 per person and include craft materials and beer. It runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at 2100 Smallman St. Register at www.contemporarycraft.org or 412-261-7003.


Finally, something for lovebirds. The National Aviary gathers the flock on Valentine's Day for a party with DJ Scottro spinning beats, a catered buffet from Atria's, sweet treats from Sarris Candies and love potions from the cash bar. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. 21+, $25; www.aviary.org.

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