I thought Dragon Con 2013 couldn’t be beat. I saw Continuum, Firefly, Warehouse 13 and LOTR panels, I sang along to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and felt like I’d been to Hogwarts. How could that feeling and those moments possibly be topped?
Dragon Con 2014 managed, somehow, to grow my love of the convention and the shows involved, to the point where I nearly shed tears at the thought of leaving (I did cry in at least one panel). I didn’t attend as many panels this year, but I got to do a lot of different things that rounded out my experience of Dragon Con and I think that’s why this year was even better than last.
Add to that some big name guests like Sir Patrick Stewart, Billy Boyd, Evanna Lynch, and the Gunn brothers, and this year’s con was pretty near perfect. I got to explore the X-Track, the YA Track, the Trek Track, and the Tolkien Track while dabbling here and there in things like painting my own miniature figurine for my next role-playing game and scouring the artist gallery for a beautiful new piece to hang in my home.
And of course, let’s not forget the parties. Although I’m not the typical party person, I do love a costume dance party. I think the Yule Ball is one of the most fun events hosted by Dragon Con’s YA Track, partially because it’s (for the most part) family friendly and partially because there’s always a hilarious dance-off among an odd cast of characters. This year we had several Doctors of various regenerations, trying to top each other’s best moves. There was a stunning Voldemort, a fantastic Arthur Weasley, and two Hagrids, one of whom towered over us all with his stilts!
There were other characters there, including a Thranduil who refused to break it down like the rest of us were trying to do and instead swung from side to side gracefully while eyeing us balefully the entire time. Appearances were also made by hobbits, steampunk Wizard of Oz characters, and Buttercup, the Princess Bride.
The costumes are a large part of the fun. While the Yule Ball had several beautiful costumes, every day there were more intricate costumes to see in the panels, in the halls, and in the food court at Peachtree Center. I’d walk through to have a bit of lunch and end up seeing Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth and Will hunched over sub sandwiches, or a trio of Frozen/Avengers characters, and one time, a beautiful Jareth the Goblin King and Sarah.
I am always amazed by how much effort is put into this four-day affair. Over 65,000 people were at Dragon Con this year, and most of them had a costume on at one point or another. I saw costumes that incorporated LEDs, puppetry, and prosthetics. This made capturing the best costumes impossible, as there were several thousand.
Along with the parade, the parties, and the vendors’ market, there is so much more than the panels (although they are amazing). There were at least two fan films previewed, a Rocky Horror Picture Show performance as well as the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog performances, and there were even LARPers signing up to play during the con, as well as a host of games being demonstrated. With this many activities, it would take weeks to sample everything. I wish DragonCon were longer.
It might seem odd from the outside; an enormous group of strangers sharing tiny elevators, hotel rooms, and meeting rooms while parading inside and outside with elaborate costumes, all because they love something with an incredible amount of devotion. We spend hours in line for panels and personal meetings by swapping stories, dream casting film and TV roles, we put up with the “dragon funk” smell and the “con crud” because it’s worth it. While those outside may not understand, we are perfectly happy, overjoyed even, to be there.
It’s a respite from the real world. It’s a safe haven, where everyone can share their love of stories without feeling embarrassed. We come together and share our stories, eager to connect with others who understand the depths of our passion. This year opened my eyes to even more varied and wonderful events at Dragon Con, and if this year is any indication, Dragon Con 2015 will be the best yet.Image Credits: Courtesy DragonCon Photography (c) 2014 DragonCon, Inc.