This was my seventh year making the trek to Atlanta to attend Dragoncon. This was also my first convention in a year (since last Dragoncon) as I took an extreme hiatus from the community. Although my stress levels were consistently over 9000 throughout this weekend, I am glad that I decided to go back to Dragoncon. It is no secret that I adore this convention. Dragoncon gets to the root of what being a fan is all about. Its genuine. Its pure. It doesn’t rely on the media or major announcements to draw its crowd. I think I say a variation of this every year, but Dragoncon is what I feel a fan convention should be. It’s for the fans, by the fans.
The increasingly popularity of the convention, however, and the difficulty of regulating all the individual venues that it encompasses does make for issues. People ghosting the convention (attending without a badge) and lines that wrap around the buildings nearly twice do cause for things to seem a bit more disorganized. Also, the culture of Dragoncon has shifted as people make it out to be more of a “party” con which can attract the “wrong” type of people. Yes, Dragoncon knows how to party at night since this convention is truly 24 hours unlike so many conventions today. That does not mean people should act like idiots when the liquor starts flowing.
The vibe did seem terribly off this year. Parties that I could normally walk into had lines they snaked their way through the hotel. People were a lot more rude and aggressive. At first, this bothered me. Now that I look back on it, I understand that conventions are truly personal experiences – as they should be. Outside forces should not hinder nor effect me at my convention…especially not at my favorite convention because when those negative forces move on to the next fad, I will still find myself navigating the hobbit trails of Dragoncon. I will still be scoffing at overpriced rum buckets. I will still be dancing in the Pulse loft. I will still be shouldering my way to a free space in the Marriott Atrium.
I missed most of my panels during the weekend due to the incredibly long lines, but I was able to get Jim Butcher to sign my books. I awkwardly told him that my book was a birthday gift and that I had just turned 30. He was dressed as Alexander Hamilton which I pretty much forgot to tell him that I loved!
In summary, if I could buy an Eternal membership to Dragoncon then I would. I love everything this con is and what it represents. I encourage it’s growth, but do feel that those that run it need to figure out a better way for the way things are done. Paid security would be a start as too many power hungry volunteers nearly ruined Saturday night for me and many others (tossing attendees out of rooms and being physical is not ok). I love Dragoncon enough to admit that it needs help. I don’t think the answer is to move weekends or – God forbid – to a convention center. That is not the spirit of this event. There does, however, need to be better organization moving forward.
Did you attend Dragoncon this year? How was it for you?