Dragon*Con Part 1: Geeks Unleashed

For those who aren’t familiar, Dragon*Con is a a convention in Atlanta that gets attended by, depending on who you ask, between 40,000 and 60,000 people. At its roots it’s a science fiction and fantasy convention, but it’s grown to be much more than that. Dragon*Con is, to put it simply, where geeks go to party.

On one level it’s a massive sci-fi/fantasy convention. There are dealer’s rooms, art galleries, and booths where comic book artists display and hawk their wares. There are fascinating panels and discussions on everything that could even be considered remotely “geeky”: science fiction, fantasy, computers, NASA and space travel, fantasy and comic book art, writing, even rational thought and skepticism. People in these businesses come to meet their peers and network. Famous people come to give talks, answer questions, and sign autographs. And everyone comes to meet friends, hang out with a bunch of like-minded people, and party.

Because this is the second level of Dragon*Con: Nerdy Gras. Four solid days of geeks both shattering and confirming the stereotypes, proving that you can party with the best even while you’re dressed like Spock. Here, thousands of people who normal society would call weird get together and celebrate, nay, revel in their weirdness. The music blares, the drinks flow, and the people are awesome.

Last year I went to Dragon*Con, and I had fun, but really, I was just an observer. I didn’t arrive until Friday evening, so I missed an entire day. I stayed by myself at an offsite hotel. I didn’t dress up. Sure, I went to panels, and bought cool swag, and had enough fun that I wanted to come back, but it simply didn’t compare to this year. This year, I drank fully and deeply from the cup that is Dragon*Con. And I’m not just talking about the beer.

This year I stayed on-site, which just by itself made a huge amount of difference. Not only did it mean I could party into the wee hours and then walk back to the hotel room, it also meant I was interacting with more people. By staying on-site and having roommates, I was much more connected with the con community, which in my opinion, is really what makes Dragon*Con fun. Even though I didn’t hang out with my roomies that much (we were all busy doing our own thing), simply having that connection was nice. And it did provide interesting moments, like when I got rope burn from helping a girl do up her corset for a party. Or when I got into the room on Friday evening, only to find Zombie Marie Antoinette setting down her cake and taking off her wig.

I was sharing a room at the Hilton with seven other people, which sounds like a lot… heck, it is a lot. But it fits right in with the crowded chaos of the con. (Hey, if I’m going to embrace it, might as well embrace it wholeheartedly, right?) Luckily, we kept different enough schedules that the room never felt too cramped, and it was usually even possible to get a shower when I wanted. Doesn’t mean I’ll be looking for seven roommates next year… but all in all, it wasn’t bad. And at least as far as embracing the chaos, it laid the foundation for the rest of the con.

Part 2 here.

Also, I’m still uploading and organizing photos, but the set can be found on Flickr here. It will grow considerably over the next few days.