Convention season is upon us! Well, here in Australia it’s spread out over the year across the country as we only have a small handful of conventions that travel to each state every few months. Our scene is still growing but events have become bigger and better even in just these past few years. But in America it’s currently full-on convention and faire season across the warmer months leading into Autumn/Fall, with my own personal and sentimental favourite, DragonCon in Atlanta today.
(Are you going to DragonCon? If you are, email me pictures and make me very jealous. I’ve been wanting to get back there since my first and only visit in 2014.)
Since attending that awesome event, I’ve been a regular at many different conventions here in Australia, namely Supanova and Oz Comic Con and the huge PAX Australia convention and I’ve since discovered that enjoying your convention time means preparation and a little bit of forethought.
So on that note, here are my tips for happy convention-ing…
DO: Wear comfy shoes. Trust me. You will want lightweight shoes that you can wander around all day in. Depending on the size of the convention, you may end up covering many kilometres over a day walking back and forth to different areas. You’re going to want to be wearing comfortable shoes. A convention is neither the time or place to break in new shoes.
DO: Wear comfy clothes, and if it happens to be colder where you live during convention time, wear layers. It may be cold outside but convention halls have a habit of getting quite warm. Better to tie a jumper around your waist than be overly hot or cold.
DO: Pack light but make sure you take water and snacks. Buying food and drink is notoriously expensive at conventions and chances are you’ve already spent enough money on travel, accommodation and your tickets into the place. If you are on a budget, pack a few sandwiches and snacks. If that’s not an option, get out of the convention and go somewhere else (if you can) to eat. For instance, PAX Australia is held at the Melbourne Convention Centre, right near Crown Towers and the Southbank Promenade. Take a breather and head to one of the awesome eateries available. More often than not you will pay less for much better fare.
DO: Take a backpack on the days you intend to shop. Make sure it’s mostly empty. This is a weird one but I’ve found that taking a bag that you can sling over a shoulder and not actively have to hang onto is a life-saver, particularly when you are walking through an artist alley or ten and need to fondle all the pretty things and don’t have to worry about dropping carry bags or losing anything.
DO: Take enough money that you think you’ll need (whatever your budget happens to be) plus an extra $100. Trust me. You will find something long after all your money is gone that you just have to have…. Which leads me onto…
When you arrive, DO do a reconnaissance lap if you can. Take stock of where things are – toilets, food stalls, artist alley, main exhibitor areas. Try to hold back on the spending spree until you’ve seen everything or mostly everything that is available. Don’t go nuts and spend all your money at first couple of stalls – like I regularly do. Though if whatever you’re eyeing off is in limited supply, buy it straight away – nothing sucks worse than missing out on grabbing a treasured collectable. But having a look at everything first and making notes to return to certain vendors definitely helps you keep to a budget.
DO: Have a Con Buddy. Even if you’re going on your own, make sure there is someone who knows where you are. And if you’re meeting your Con Buddy, make sure you figure out a meeting spot well in advance because phone reception can suck.
DON’T: Try to be everywhere at once. The trick to enjoying conventions is to make plans but be flexible. Panels run over time. Events may be cancelled. Go with the flow. Make sure you know what’s on so that you can plan ahead to join a queue at a specific time or jump into another panel if you find yourself with some spare time.
NEVER: Save spots for your friends in a queue. Never ever do this. If your friends cannot be there on time, that is not the fault of the folks behind you who were. Let them join the back of the line. (And trust me, nothing pisses off tired con-goers more than queue jumpers. So just don’t.)
REMEMBER: If you are attending a convention that runs for more than two days, the all important 3-2-1 rule applies:
Three hours sleep (minimum) a night.
Two meals (minimum) a day.
One shower a day.
The idea of partying non-stop is always fun but you will need to rest eventually. You don’t want to be sleepy or hangry during a convention – or at least more sleepy and hangry than absolutely necessary. Coffee and protein bars only get you so far. It spoils your fun and spoils the fun of those around you. And shower. I cannot stress the importance of this. Convention Funk is a real thing. Many bodies in confined spaces makes for a cacophony of body odour. Don’t be that stinky person.
Something else that comes hand in hand with hygiene is health. Con Crud (not to be confused with Con Funk) is a real thing too. It’s a cold that will inevitably get you either during or just after the event. If you are sick during an event, take some medication, drink lots of water, and cough and sneeze into your inner elbow and not your hands to avoid passing on germs when you touch things. Bring sanitizer to occasionally de-germ your digits.
REMEMBER: Cosplayers. Cosplayers are awesome people. They work hard, sometimes all year or many years, on one costume to look particularly awesome. Be nice to the cosplayers. This means that you ask to take pictures and you ask before you touch anything. More often than not, unless a cosplayer is trying to get somewhere, they will be happy to stop and pose for/with you for pictures and chat about their costumes. And use common sense, sometimes walking around in bulky costumes makes people hot and tired. They might need a break.
DEFINITELY REMEMBER: Another important rule is COSPLAY =\= CONSENT. Due to the nature of pop culture in general, many popular female characters in pop culture are scantily clad or wear revealing clothes. Lots of cosplayers will dress up as these female characters. Cat-calling, wolf-whistling, derogatory remarks, touching inappropriately, upskirting and sneaky dirty photos are NOT ON. Generally this isn’t an issue for male cosplayers but the same does apply to them too. Be nice, be polite and remember that cosplayers are human – not your property to be fondled or treated disrespectfully. If you wouldn’t do or say it to your mother, do not do or say it to a cosplayer.
And the most important thing: Remember to get your tickets early. Even better, if your event is ticketed by Eventbrite, the process is very easy. Eventbrite is a great platform to set up events as they manage everything for you for a very small and reasonable fee and makes ticket purchasing very easy. I’ve bought tickets through them more than a few times. You can register your event here.
(Post not sponsored. Just so y’know. Y’know?)