Okay, I know it’s been about a month since Dragon*Con, but I figured that since I actually DID get to go this year, it would be a good idea to talk about it.
Back when I was living in Atlanta, Dragon*Con was something that I always tried to attend every year without fail. To be fair, it was pretty much the law that if you were a geek and a resident of Georgia, you were required to attend or suffer the loss of your Geek Membership Card, but I enjoyed it anyway. I would get insanely excited about it whenever August rolled around and would begin chanting the convention’s name over and over in an annoying fashion. It was my way of paying tribute to the Great Dragon Spirit! Or something like that.
Unfortunately, I had to break with this sacred annual ritual when I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and had to spend most of the next four years trapped in a cold, harsh, Dragon*Con-less world.
All of that changed when I decided to say, “Damn the torpedoes!” and find a way to go this year. It was a last-minute decision and I only had the cash to manage to be there for a total of six hours on a Sunday, but I have to tell you those six hours were pretty freaking amazing.
So what did I do in those six hours? Well, mostly I just hung around. Sure, we all enjoy seeing the celebrities pressed into their rows of autograph tables like pheasants under glass. We like moving slowly through the dealers’ room and standing there for minutes at a time looking for openings between the huge throngs of convention shoppers much like the drivers are always doing with their fellow motorists just outside on Atlanta’s city streets. But for me, the best part of a convention like Dragon*Con is meeting people and hanging out with them.
I did get to go to one panel (the live episode of Mur Lafferty’s “I Should Be Writing”), but the rest of the time I spent with people I’m happy to call my friends. Some of them were friends I already knew from when I’d lived there before and some were new friends I’d made online – fellow podcasters and even some folks I’d met on Twitter.
A lot of people like to go to Dragon*Con and go absolutely nuts. They burn themselves out trying to attend every possible panel, LARP, contest, party or concert. That was me, too, the first couple of years I attended. Then one year I decided that instead of trying to wrestle the monster that is the convention schedule, I’d just ride on its back instead. I’d wander around from area to area and involve myself in whatever looked interesting to me. And I have to tell you, I had more fun doing it that way than I can even begin to express. That’s how I’ve done it ever since.
So, even though I spent three more hours driving that day than I did at the convention itself (eight hours on the round trip and the rest navigating the demonic web of Atlanta’s traffic system), it was totally worth it. For me, Dragon*Con is all about the people. And no matter how short your visit is to that mystical land that exists between those four downtown hotels over Labor Day weekend before disappearing Brigadoon-like into the draconic aether, there will always be people a-plenty.