I've been thinking a lot about the "convention" aspect of geek culture lately. In their early days, conventions brought geeks - outcasts from the "mainstream" - together in celebration of a shared passion. But now that it's more socially acceptable to be a geek and easier to find other people who share your passion via the interwebs, logic would say that the need for conventions isn't what it used to be. Instead, conventions are still growing, both in attendees and actual number of Cons, not to mention length of time and breadth of topic. They've become something more than initially intended, and they are absolutely astounding events. I've decided to take this in two parts, first sharing my background as a con-attendee, and then discussing the different types of Cons I've attended are their distinct atmospheres and cultures, as I see them.
|Me and an unknown Klingon, 1994.|
When I went to college up in Boston, I would check the Creation homepage every now and then, but nothing ever seemed to come nearby. I never thought too look for anyone kind of convention, so I didn't come across Arisia or any other Boston-area cons (PAX East didn't start until I'd moved away), and I started to get busy with other things and didn't care so much about conventions. Plus, from what I'd heard online, Creation conventions were going downhill fast, and no longer worth the time.
Then, my brother told me that World Con would be held in Boston in the fall of my senior year! I didn't know what World Con was, but Terry Pratchett was the guest of honor! I checked out the website and did a bunch of reading and got super psyched. But it was a completely new experience. I was used to a show room and a dealers' room - you either saw what was happening on stage or went shopping. This con schedule had so many things happening at once in different rooms that I didn't have a clue how to begin making decisions! It was an incredibly busy weekend, and it was a blast. (Somehow, I was still unaware of Arisia that winter...)
And then, after a few months of enthusiasm, conventions fell off my radar again. I was looking for a "real job" and a place to live, and paying bills, and so on. But I kept hearing about this thing called "Dragon*Con" on podcasts and in internet forums, and it seemed like the place to be if you were into... well, anything. And in early spring of 2010, I was once again speaking to my brother (clearly, he's the instigator in our relationship) and we discovered that we were both interested in checking out this Dragon Con hullabaloo, so we each booked flights and got a room in an overflow hotel, and dove right in to the deep end.
After my first year at D*C, I knew I'd be back, and I booked my 2011 room less than a month after returning. And, I started paying attention to other convention announcements. Anne's New York Comic Con report later that month piqued my interest in that event, and I submitted a press application for 2011 as soon as I could. That winter, WorldCon was officially announced for Reno, NV (where that pesky brother lives), so there was no way I could pass that up. Suddenly, I was scheduled to hit 3 conventions in 6 weeks, and they turned out to have three very different atmospheres.
To be continued....
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