This past Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of spending 4 days in one of my favorite US cities, Atlanta, GA attending the 26th Annual Dragon Con. The first time I had ever heard of the multigenre convention was through an old friend from high school who had spent the past several years volunteering for the event. At first I wasn’t all that interested in going, even though it was a short 5 hour drive away, because I had my eyes set on a bigger convention. As fate would have it a spur of the moment decision last February changed all that and I had an experience I won’t soon forget. Which is a good thing because I plan on going back next year and this time I will go with a little more knowledge of how to survive 4 days or in my case 3 days. If you are thinking of going, and you should be, here are 5 things that I learned:
1. Have a plan. This is very important considering playing it by ear is great and all, but it could land you in the Futurama panel when you were actually aiming for the Battlestar Galatica panel. On the bright-side that panel did turn out to be my favorite of the weekend and I discovered that Phil Lamarr is the same Phil Lamarr from Sad Sad Conversation. If you haven’t seen this gem on YouTube you’re missing out.
2. Be prepared to throw the plan out the window. Yes, having a plan is important. I am not denying that (see number 1) except sometimes life doesn’t like your plan and prefers to throw its own plan at you. Now to be fair I may have helped a little by over-sleeping, missing the parade, and forgetting my badge at the hotel. But like I said I only helped a little. Where was I? Oh yeah…throwing the plan out the window. Even though I had missed the parade and the Torchwood panel and the Fringe panel (I caught another one Sunday) I had the choice to let it ruin my whole day or just go with it. So I went with it and ended up having a really great time.
3. If you don’t like big crowds or small places DragonCon might not be the place for you. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to discourage anyone from going. On the contrary I loved my time there and recommend that any fan of the geek culture go and experience it for themselves. Except for those of you who have a tendency to freak out when smushed up against a hundred or so of your closest strangers. I didn’t mind it so much thanks to my background of going to big music festivals which turned out to be great training grounds for maneuvering through large crowds and tight spaces.
4. After a certain point no amount of Axe body spray is going to cover up the smell of hours of sweat and body odor. So please for everyone’s sake go back to your hotel, get out of the Chewbacca outfit, and shower. Twice. Maybe a third time just for good measure. Oh hell throw in a fourth shower just for the fun of it. Trust me, I am telling you this for your own good. And this goes for anyone wearing a big, bulky heat trapping costume. Think of it as a uni-sex rule. One size fits all.
5. If you only want to see the actors and don’t really care about the panel go see them at the Walk of Fame and save that space in line for someone who really wants to see the panel. Everyone I talked to at the Walk of Fame were more than happy to chat for a few moments even if I wasn’t getting a picture or an autograph. Now this doesn’t mean talk their ear off, but a quick hello and nice to meet you is completely acceptable.
Oh yeah and the sixth and final thing I learned at DragonCon was you never know where you are going to find fun and fascinating. For instance I learned about fetish costuming and military space. Not at the same panel mind you, but damn that would have been a sight to see.