On Wednesday August 31st, I hopped a plane with two of my best friends for a truly epic adventure. Dragon Con is an annual convention that has occurred every Labor Day weekend for the past 30 years. Seriously, 30 years you guys! It technically starts in the evening on Thursday, but people arrive and start their celebrations as early as Monday and Tuesday. I experienced the madness and mayhem that is this incredible convention from Wednesday evening, until midday on Monday September 5th when I flew home to California.
This convention was a roller coaster of experiences and emotions for me. I got to spend a lot of time with friends that are more like family to me, I got to show off some costuming that I was particularly proud of, and I got to see several actors that I admire greatly. But it’s very easy to feel completely alone in a crowd of thousands, and finding your groove at Dragon Con is a different experience than any other con I’ve attended. Learning what works for you, as a Dragon Con newbie, can definitely take some time.
I cannot say enough good things about the Dragon Con App! Having the schedule, maps, list of exhibitors, all con information and my own personal schedule available in one place was easily my saving grace for the entire weekend. It’s easy to use, well laid out, and chock-full of useful information designed to make your con-going experience as smooth and uncomplicated as humanly possible. Plus, the whole thing is purple. Definitely download it if you have even the slightest inclination to attend next year!
I had heard lots of warnings about how the crowds would be so intense on Saturday and Sunday that I might need to retreat to the relative peace of my room. Thankfully, it seemed that the Con organizers had done a bang up job of spreading out the festivities equally across 3 main hotels and the other outlying support buildings. With 77,000 attendees (77 THOUSAND PEOPLE), none of the lines were too terrible – except for the line for the Gillian Anderson panel, which is completely understandable – and getting to and fro was genuinely quicker than I had anticipated.
I will say that the quality of the sound in some of the panels confused me, and it was quite hard to hear what was being said, but the overall content was superb through and through. Some of the moderators clearly outshone others, and I would have liked them to understand their source material a little bit better. It’s definitely noticeable when the celebrities and guests WANT to be at a convention, and every single person I encountered was genuinely having a great time. Major props to the behind the scenes crew for making everything run like clockwork. Not a single event I went to was anything less than efficient and perfectly timed. Considering Dragon Con itself was celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, it would stand to reason that they’ve had plenty of time to work the kinks out.
It was my first time experiencing the 51% humidity of the South in the summer, which was definitely something my hair rebelled against! What more than made up for the heat, was the amazing turn out of cosplayers! The quality and quantity of the costuming at Dragon Con is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. The cosplayers LOVE what they do, LOVE their source materials and it definitely shows in the care and detail of the crafting of each costume. There were so many moments when I was utterly blown away by someone bringing a character to life that I had never expected to get to see in reality, and truly caring for their source material.
I really enjoyed my time in Atlanta, it’s a beautiful city full of kind and gracious people. I felt comfortable walking to dinner alone at 2 am, which is a spectacular example of how safe I felt at this convention. Overall, this convention was incredible. Being surrounded by 76,999 people with the same interests as yourself is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The roar of the crowds at 11 o’ clock at night, just outside your hotel door is something truly special. Everyone came to have a good time, everyone came to find their tribe and revel in the solidarity of shared interests and passions. It’s a very special event, doing very good things in the world.
You should go. We’ll share a drink or two next year. See you then?