I spent a bunch of this weekend at the very first Tri-Con KW, both as an attendee and as a bit of an exhibitor. People were met, fun was had, videos were shot, and parties were partied. Ideas were had too, more on that when I get things sorted out. I’ve never really done cons before, not until the last year or so, when I went to Vidcon and Fan Expo.
Academic conferences are old hat now, but they’re a sight different from fan conventions, I find. You spend all day hearing papers, and all night talking shop at receptions, cooking up seminars for the next year and talking about your focus and what life at your campus is like. In some ways I suppose they’re not that different from a fan con. I didn’t hit a lot of panels because I was barding it up at the Dragonsmith Armoury booth and talking Headshots from the Heart with people. I even wound up in the local paper (don’t try and go to JimTigswell.com though, that guy’s a jerk), but I did spend time talking shop and nerd dom with people, mostly comics and D&D, especially at the afterparty.
I really enjoy the atmosphere, too. It’s sort of comfortable and safe, where you get to be as weird as you want without worrying. it’s a space that helps me tap my inner weirdness and sparks a sort of elemental creativity. Also, people tend to be really nice, at least to me. I spent a lot of time talking with the artists, and not as much with the attendees, unlike Vidcon, though there I was alone and needed to make new friends. It’s an entirely different experience from the other side of the table, I have to say. As an attendee there’s more opportunity to roam, but there’s less of a connection to any one space. If you’re there with friends, you stick together, which often means not taking the chance to meet new people. At a conference, everyone is sort of on equal footing. There’s a bit of division between grad students and professors and occasionally between disciplines, but it’s reasonably minor. You’re all part of the same universe. At a fan con like Tri-Con, sitting in the booth, it became apparent that wasn’t true for us. People of all ages, all fandoms, and all walks of life came through. There was such diverse array of interests that it was impossible to keep track, and that was just from what I could hear (and see by people’s allegiance in their costumes). It really does take all kinds.
I’m headed to PAX East this year for the first time, I’m organizing a bachelor party there, and I’ll be doing my first cosplay as well if I can get my butt in gear on it, which I intend to. I made plans with a friend this weekend to hit Anime North, either as exhibitors or attendees, and I’m tempted to head to Fan Expo again too, though it seems like a different animal from the others, I’ve never really “Done” it, just sort of wandered around. It’s great to have conventions that are local though, and if you’ve got one in town, I can’t recommend going enough. Even if it sounds totally lame. Especially then. It’s the people that make the convention, and that’s the most important thing I learned this weekend. If you have enough great people in a safe space, fun happens spontaneously. I’m really excited for next year’s Tri-Con, and I think it might have made me into a con-goer overall. Spaces where I can be weird are spaces where I feel like I can be brilliant.
And I never want to stop being weird.