DragonCon took place this year for the 24th time, from September 2nd-6th, 2010.
It’s hard to write about DragonCon because it is hard to know where to start. It’s all such a whirl…the costumes, the panels, the thousands of people, the celebrities, the noise, the five hotels..it all becomes one great, colorful, noisy blur, like the best possible kind of party.
This year was a first for me in two ways.. it was the first time in 15 years that I was not a volunteer staff member of the Con but rather was covering it as a member of the press, representing the Journal of Anomalous Sciences, which I help edit and for which I write, as well as my new website, Sci Fi Factor. It was also the first year that I attended the Con with a disability..Neuropathy has made it difficult for me to get around without a cane. Thus, I have two new perspectives on the convention to share.
First of all, no one with a disability should ever hesitate to attend DragonCon. The disability staff and all of the security people who guard the doors at panels are incredibly nice. Getting the handicap sticker for my badge took about 5 minutes (and the lady who issued it to me was blind!) and allowed me to sit while waiting for popular panels (I would not have been able to stand,) and to be seated early in special reserved sections right up front for big events. I cannot overstate this: DragonCon treats people with disabilities like honored and respected guests, just as they do every other of the 40,000+ people attending. And when you understand that each and every staff member is a volunteer putting in 26 hours without pay other than a free badge and a t-shirt, you understand how special this really is.
Now, on to the Con. There are five hotels now, The Hyatt, The Marriott, The Hilton, The Sheraton, and The Westin. I never made it to the Westin, which is the farthest away (although there are shuttle buses). However, The Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton are all attached by bridges so that you never have to cross a street and The Sheraton is very close to the Marriott and the Hyatt, so it is not that hard to get from one to the other (except late at night when getting through the crowds can be an exciting and sometimes hilarious challenge.) There are literally hundreds of panels on every subject you could think of that relates to science fiction and fantasy and some that only marginally do, like wrestling. There are immensely popular Space and Science tracks, complete with solar and lunar telescopes, NASA scientists, and much more. There is a new Paranormal track with its own separate walk of fame (unfortunately, somewhat difficult to find. Gaming goes on 24 hours a day.
What to say about the guests? Wow comes to mind!
This year, my favorites were Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, and Ami Bruni from the Ghost Hunters, demonologist John Zaffis, who is slowly changing my mind about the existence of demons, the mighty Stan Lee from Marvel Comic fame (Excelsior!), my favorite author Mercedes Lackey and her husband Larry Dixon, who is a very funny man, and Patricia Quinn of Rocky Horror Fame, who was beautiful and delightful to listen to. But there were also guests from Eureka, Firefly, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and many, many other TV shows and movies as well as authors and artists…400 guests in all.
For many people, much of the draw of the Con is the costumes. This year, Steampunk was a big theme and there were some gorgeous, intricate costumes for that, especially among the women. The stormtroopers and anime characters were still much in evidence and I saw a number of the Doctors from Doctor Who. At night, the girls in duct tape were still around. (The Con does get less kid-friendly after dark.)
Over all, it was a wonderful, mad, delicious 4-day whirl, and I can’t wait to do it again..although next year I’m going back to volunteering. I really missed the joy of feeling like a part of making it all happen. I heard a passerby describe the experience as a “Mardi Gras for Nerds,” and I think that’s a good description!
Let the good times roll!