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On the Ground at Dragon Con Day 1 – Geek Girl Navigating the World
Dragon Con is the first really big convention that I have ever been to. Up until now, the largest one I could say I had attended was Icon in Iowa and that was several years ago. I’ve been to a few smaller local conventions, but I had wanted to go to Dragon Con for a while. The opportunity arose this year and I took it.
We arrived on Thursday evening and immediately went to get our con badges because we didn’t want to miss anything on Friday. As soon as we walked into the hotel to get our badges, we were greeted by a gentleman dressed as the Joker (the Jack Nicholson version for those keeping score) and The Penguin manning an information desk. There were already people showing off their considerable costuming skills. We saw fairies, several Dr. Whos, no few superheroes (including an excellent Superman), and a host of video game characters making the rounds. The lobby was filled with the steady thrum of bass as music blasted over an impressive sound system marshalled by a woman who was clearly a hotel employee. It didn’t matter one bit that she was dressed in a pantsuit, she was having just as much fun grooving to the music as any of the Geeks parading towards registration.
Lines were expected and so were crowds, but I don’t think anything could have ever prepared me for the glorious concentration of Geekhood that awaited me in that long, long line in what would have been a spacious hotel ballroom if it hadn’t been cordoned off into a gigantic maze. At this point, Dragon Con has been going on for long enough that it’s expected that it will run like a well-oiled machine, regardless of the power source. As we settled in to wait for the line to move, I could very easily appreciate how well the convention is run. There were volunteers stationed at regular intervals and any time I heard anyone asking a question they answered knowledgeably and with consummate professionalism.
Everyone in the line who had preregistered for their badges was filtered through efficiently. If there was a hold up in processing someone’s badge, it was because they had forgotten their all important postcard or were missing some piece of information they were supposed to bring according to the instructions on the back of the card. Of course, as everyone walked through the switchbacks, there were a lot of jokes about being herded like cattle or feeling like lab rats, but overall, the crowd was in a jubilant mood. Those who were veteran con-goers reassured anyone who might have been a Noob that this would easily be both the longest and the slowest line that we were going to be in for pretty much the rest of the convention. The group that I was with had our badges processed and were headed out the door in less than half an hour and we were by no means anywhere even close to approaching the front of the line. I was especially pleased that we were issued two Dragon*con programs. One is a big, glossy square-bound volume that is obviously intended for those Geeks who love saving that stuff. And, as guilty as I may be of that particular vice, I must say that Dragon Con does a magnificent job enabling me on that front. I was also given a “pocket program” which was much smaller in size, printed on newsprint, and obviously made to be toted around and abused. Mine spent the better part of Friday getting smashed at the bottom of my bag.
On Friday, it was time to start getting down to the business of enjoying the Con. One of the nicest things, I thought, was that almost all of the major programming didn’t start until 1 PM, giving people ample time to get there from outlying hotels as well as letting them assimilate any program changes that had happened prior to their con registration into their plans. There were opportunities to purchase photos with various celebrities attending the convention, so, of course, I had to purchase at least a couple of them.
I started Friday by getting a pictures with Bruce Boxleitner. As soon as I approached him wearing my bandoliers filled with pens and Sharpies, he immediately remarked “You’ve got all of the pens that I need for my entire day!” I agreed and we laughed, then, they took the picture and I went off to find something else to do while I waited to get a picture taken with Alice Cooper.
I opted to check out the dealer room. The array of Geek paraphernalia available from the Dragon Con vendors is staggering. While I can’t say that they’ve got something for everyone, they do have many things available that you just aren’t going to find anywhere else. I picked up a few gifts for some people that I thought would really enjoy them and I picked up a few things for myself. One of the biggest highlights of my day is probably the geekiest of them all. I got to purchase books directly from William Stout himself. His dinosaur artwork has been something that I have admired for a long time. Not only did I get to have my books signed by him, he drew a Triceratops in the book for me, we also chatted about paleontology and pet lizards. It was probably more exciting to me than it really should have been, but that is one of the great joys of being a geek.
Then, I got in line to get the picture with Alice Cooper. The photographer kept things moving very well. The lines went quickly and as long as you got there as directed for your photos, you didn’t have to worry about getting your pictures. Alice Cooper told me that his band had always thought they should wear bandoleros full of pens when they went on tour and, now that he’d seen how cool it looked, they should probably just start doing it. Again, it was great to meet him and have him be so pleasant.
I had to get right back in line for a picture with Joe Manganiello. He actually goofed around with fans, striking poses for them depending on what they asked. And yes, for the curious, that did include a few “Magic Mike” style poses that were requested. If you’re wondering, by the way, the man is positively enormous. Of course, I’m short, so, that could just be my own personal bias there. Still, it was a lot of fun getting that picture and watching other people get their pictures, even if I didn’t get a chance to hand him the Sharpie he requested from my bandolier because I just didn’t have time to.
My final picture of the day was with Stan Lee. He perched on a chair and presided over his photo ops like the gracious king of comic books that he is. People were thanking him left and right and, of course, I was one of them. It felt pretty good to be able to thank him personally for all of the inspiration and entertainment that he’s given me over my lifetime.
So, my first day at Dragon Con, I got to meet Stan Lee, Bruce Boxleitner, Alice Cooper, and Joe Manganiello and go, as my mom calls it “nerd shopping.” All in all, I’m an ecstatic starry-eyed sprocket. I can’t wait until tomorrow.