Reflections of a Dragon*Con Newbie
I’ve been promising myself a trip to Dragon*Con for a couple of years now. I keep hearing from friends who go that it’s a lot of fun, it’s crazy, and there’s nothing like it in the world of geeky conventions. This year the timing actually worked out, and I spent Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, with 40,000+ of my closest friends.
I’m not a total convention neophyte. I’ve been to smaller conventions, like Gallifrey One in LA, which topped out around 1200 the final year I attended in 2010, or TotalCon, a local New England board gaming event. I’ve been to big conventions: I’ve attended PAXEast for the past three years (basically, since it started). But I still had no idea what to expect when I got into Atlanta.
What I got was a sense of belonging. On Friday night, I wrote in my blog about the feeling of community I got when I stepped up out of the MARTA station, onto a Peachtree Street filled with people in costumes and geeky t-shirts. And that was only Friday. Saturday was like living in an alternate universe where all the stuff I’d only read about or seen on TV had come to life and was waiting in line with me for lunch.
I realized on Friday night, when I was quadruple booked for panels, events, and friend hangouts, that I would never get everything done. Eventually I just let it all go and relaxed as I queued for the Dr. Horrible sing-a-long. There is so much happening at Dragon*Con, and between long queues, the distance from one venue to another, and the sheer bulk of stuff I wanted to see, I had to accept that it just wasn’t all going to happen. In fact, of the things I went down to Atlanta planning to do, I did three of them. And I still had a blast.
I think we geeks are the best of fans. We have a passion for whatever our fandom is, and we know more about it than anyone else. But beyond that, we make a connection with it, and so we experience it differently than other fans. When I was singing along to ”Once More With Feeling” with a few hundred other Buffy fans, I felt a sense of community. We may disagree over ‘ships, characters, or the tiniest nuances of plot, but we can come together in a heartbeat to celebrate the things we love.
Saturday morning was the parade, and I wasted time doing something crazy like having a sit down breakfast (biscuits and gravy, because southern food is the best). The parade itself was awesome, but I was so far back from the street that I didn’t get the best of pictures. Lesson learned: grab breakfast at Starbucks and go sit on the curb at 8am.
After that, I went to a Doctor Who photoshoot. I love Doctor Who, so that was a thing I didn’t want to miss. They did each Doctor’s era one at a time. If you’re interested in all the pictures, leave a comment or tweet at me. Here are two of my favorite, a crazy good Amelia Pond and some scary angels terrorizing a baby!Dalek:
Saturday night, I went to the Atlanta Aquarium for a special Dragon*Con event. My friend told me that it used to be the hidden gem of the official events, but it was pretty well attended this year. First off, you get the cool privilege of being in a place like an aquarium after regular business hours. Secondly, there’s a lot of water-themed cosplay happening. I saw several Little Mermaids, an Ursula, some jellyfish, and these awesome Aquapeople. Just to name a few.
I highly recommend it, it’s a great experience. And it ended at 11, so I still got back in time to hit up a room party.
Sunday I was solo most of the day. In the morning, while a lot of people were still sleeping/sleeping it off, I went to the Walk of Fame, where I spent five hours wandering around, chatting with celebrities, and getting autographs. I didn’t wait in line for John Barrowman or Felicia Day, but I got Sylvester McCoy to sign my Journal of Impossible Things, and a picture with Eddie McClintock. I shook hands with my straight crush, Joe Manganiello, and fangirled over Amber Nash (if you don’t watch Archer, we’re done here!).
After that, I hit the Vendor Rooms and spent some time with friends. And people-watched.
By Monday morning I was exhausted. Between the heat, the walking, and the lack of sleep, I felt like sleeping for 100 hours. As with all cons, the last day was bittersweet. I wandered around a significantly less crowded Marriott (the main hotel, and the place to see great costuming), said my goodbyes, and headed to the airport… where I promptly fell asleep in a corner as I waited for my flight.
I had a great time at my first Dragon*Con. I didn’t do most of what I had planned, but it didn’t matter in the slightest. I am absolutely going back next year. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Sam is usually a copy editor for GFBR, but occasionally she pokes her head up to contribute to the site. All the images in this post were taken by her, and if you’re in one of them and want some credit, leave a comment. You can find Sam on twitter @retconning, where she talks about all sorts of geeky things.