I had intended to write a recap of DragonCon 2014 very shortly after the con was over and the details were fresh in my mind, but what with one thing and another and getting sick the week after getting home, it’s now almost three weeks later. But oh, well, this ain’t the New York Times and hopefully you aren’t coming here for breaking news, but rather the reflective perspective on an event after it’s had time to mellow and mature, like a fine wine or a stinky cheese.
First, a few thoughts on the con itself. Overall, it was huge and it was awesome. I freaking loved it, and I love geeks, and it was so fabulous to be among my people. I am so grateful that I paid attention to the DragonCon Newbies group, which is headed up by Kevin Bachelder. I got so many useful tips about DragonCon from participating in the podcast Kevin, Stephanie and Kris from Drinks at the Dal, and I recorded about the Lost Girl events at DragonCon, and by reading the DragonCon Newbies group on Facebook.
Here were the especially useful things I learned and heeded:
Water bottle. Bring one! There are water coolers everywhere and you can fill it up. It was freaking hot in Atlanta and anytime you set foot outside, you immediately started sweating (well, I did anyway – sidenote, major props to the cosplayers in full suitage, layers, furry suits, the whole nine yards – that takes some dedication in that kind of heat and humidity). Staying hydrated was key.
The bathroom. Use it. For some of the large celebrity/cast panels, waiting in line for an hour beforehand (or more) was the norm. If you passed up a chance to go to the bathroom before getting in line, then you were destined to be uncomfortable.
Food. Eat it. I had thought beforehand that I would have no problem making sure I had breakfast, lunch and dinner on a semi-regular schedule. Well, guess what? It was really hard to fit meals in among all the awesome things to do and people to see at the con. I’m glad I brought some easy-to-bring-along snacks, although by the end of the weekend I never wanted to see another granola bar again (and I still don’t).
Schedule. Ha! I had trouble envisioning how I would NOT be able to attend everything I wanted to, and made myself a jam-packed schedule on the DragonCon app. I thought for sure that 30 minutes between panels was plenty of time to get from hotel to hotel – I mean, the furthest hotels from each other were only 3-4 blocks, at most, right? Wrong. WRONG. There were SO MANY PEOPLE there. It was tough to get around, find the right room, and find space in the room for the next panel, since many of them ended up being standing-room-only or turning people away.
One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the podcast or the newbies group, but that was important for me, was making sure to exercise. If you exercise regularly, don’t skip it when you’re at the con. Most of the events don’t start until 10am, which is plenty of time to get in a run or whatever it is that you like to do. The GeekGirlsRun even organized a Fun Run for Friday morning, which was, as the name implies, fun. But anyway, if you’re like me and regular exercise keeps you sane, then find time to fit it in. There’s enough overcrowding and sensory stimulation that you’ll need all of the feel-good endorphins you can get.
In retrospect, I think that no matter how much you read in advance, DragonCon is one of those things that you have to experience for yourself the first time in order to know how to do it better next time. (Hey, just like…nevermind.) Having been there and learned my way around and having gotten a better idea of where things are, how much time it takes to get places, and how much time I would need to budget to get where I’m going, I think I would be much more expert in a subsequent year.
Don’t get me wrong, though – I had a blast. My favorite part was meeting other fans – people who I’ve met online through fandom or other places and putting faces to names and getting to talk to people. Every single Lost Girl fan that I met at DragonCon was very nice and super fun to talk to.
I also really, really loved DragonConTV. DCTV made content that was shown on the screens in the rooms before the panels, and it was some funny shiz. As well, the videos played on a channel in the host hotels. It’s how we ended up watching the DragonCon parade on Saturday, since we had an event we wanted to go to and didn’t want to brave the parade crowds.
Okay, okay – so all of that was about the con itself, and I haven’t even mentioned the Lost Girl events yet. Well, I’m tempted to take the lazy way out and just tell you to go listen to the Drinks at the Dal podcast about the Lost Girl events at DragonCon, because they did an excellent job of recapping what happened and sharing their impressions. I recommend you do that anyway, but I think I’ve talked myself into not trying to duplicate their effort.
Here are some random thoughts and links that relate to Lost Girl at DragonCon:
1. Fan panel – I was on the fan panel along with four other fans, and if you’d like to listen to it or watch a video, here’s a link to the video and audio file on Drinks at the Dal.
2. Cast panels – there were three Lost Girl cast panels on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The cast who attended were Rick Howland, Ksenia Solo, and Emmanuelle Vaugier. Since there were three panels, they introduced each other in a different order each day – that way each actor was introduced first, middle and last on different days. I thought that was a nice touch.
3. Cast panel questions – on each day, at least one fan asked a question of the cast along the lines of “If you could have a Fae power, which Fae power would you want to have?” Sometimes the answer was the same, and sometimes it was different. In general I noticed that the questions that related the craft of acting drew extremely animated answers, which makes sense. The actors are actors, and they obviously love what they do and enjoy talking about how they do it.
Some of the questions that fans asked (myself included) related more to storyline decisions that are more about how the show is written, and while the cast took all the questions seriously and answered thoughtfully, there’s a lot they can’t say about storyline and writing – either because they want to avoid spoilers, or the question might have been more easily answered by one of the writers of the show.
(I also attended a Battlestar Galactica panel where one of the questions was “What did you think of the ending, did you love it or hate it?” and a couple of the actors said something to the effect of “My job is to act, and I don’t have an opinion about the story.” – this isn’t something that I ever heard from any of the Lost Girl cast, though.)
4. My question – the question I asked at the Monday morning panel was “How do Canadian culture and politics influence the stories you tell on Lost Girl?” The cast gave thoughtful and funny answers, which I will briefly sum up:
Rick Howland: There’s such a thing as Canadian culture? What is it? We say “sorry” a lot.
Emmanuelle Vaugier: I was out late at a rave last night, so I’m not even going to try to answer this one.
Ksenia Solo: The writing on the show isn’t really influenced by anything from the outside – the writers and producers are telling the stories they want to tell.
In retrospect, I don’t think I phrased the question in such a way that it asked what I meant it to ask, and if I had a hot tub time machine, I would go back in time to rephrase the question as “How are Canadian values reflected in the stories you tell on Lost Girl?”
I’m going to do another post soon to expand a bit on this question, because I’d like to explore it a bit – and I’m interested to hear everyone else’s thoughts.
Okay, so as they say, better late than never. And if you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to attend DragonCon, you should definitely do it. It was awesome.