Let’s Talk About Conventions For A Moment…

or, knowing my occasional verbosity, more than a moment.

i find myself torn between at least two states of mind.

i don’t handle crowds so well anymore – i tend to get a tad homicidal – so i will probably never attend DragonCon, or San Diego ComicCon. so i really don’t want conventions like WorldCon to get that busy.
On The Other Hand… reports from this WorldCon, as well as what i saw when i attended LoneStarCon 2, and what i’ve seen at ArmadilloCon the last two years really has me worried about Plain Vanilla Old Fart Festivals.

as an illustration, ArmadilloCon has always been a literary fandom snob fest, but even with that proviso, back in the ’80’s, it was alive. there were people, lots of people, lots of guests – and not just the usual cast of locals – it was a fun place to be even if you couldn’t get into any of the exclusive parties.
the last two years… it’s dead. not dying – Dead. Old Farts everywhere you look – and i speak as a Near-Old-Fart, if not there completely – apparently no effort made to bring in young fans. of course no media guests, little acknowledgment of any type of fandom other than literary. it’s a very incestuous group of fans having their own little party and that’s cool… not good for fandom as a whole, but sure, if you want to have a nice little con for you and your buds, go for it. it’s not like you’re going to be around for ever, and you’re not doing much to bring in younger fans to carry on after you’re gone, so let this thing you love so much Die With You.

not that fandom itself is in any danger of dying off – it’s just not being included in the old school get-togethers. fans of every stripe are out there doing their thing, and more and more they aren’t giving a shit about conventions like WorldCon and ArmadilloCon.

then we come to a question of cost. i’m not a big fan of Capitalism Uber Alles, but for a convention to continue, it’s got to at least break even. reciprocally, if it’s too expensive, it can enter a death spiral of fewer attendees meaning higher fees meaning fewer attendees, so on, so forth, ad nauseum.

LoneStarCon 3 was Way Too Fucking Expensive, even going so far, i have been told, as to include NO memberships with the purchase of a dealer’s room table. that’s beyond stupid. so, your convention ticket is $240 for a five day, $50 for Thursday, $75 Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, $30 for Monday? ya think maybe that’s why you had less than 4,000 attendees? maybe?

memberships are available for DragonCon 2014 for $65 if you buy now.

but hey, for just under $40 you can get a supporting membership to the London worldcon next year… that doesn’t get you in the door, it merely means you support them. for just under $165 you can get an attending membership.

don’t get me wrong, i’d LOVE to go to London for WorldCon, but a year out from the fuckin’ con, i’d be looking at over $300 for Dorris and i to attend the convention… on top of everything else.

no wonder that Amie Spengler, head of ConDFW, doesn’t want to go to the hassle of organizing a bid for a WorldCon in DFW (a bid is an expensive proposition in and of itself – lots of promo to do, and it’s pretty much all written off to goodwill if you don’t get the bid, laying groundwork for another bid and even more expense, another year). look at the numbers, look at the amount of work, and look at the payoff. yay, you got to throw a WorldCon. less than 4000 people really appreciated it. oooooh, the prestige…

i was – thank you Ghod – brought into fandom by old fans. i was told the stories, i was educated in the traditions – not an exhaustive education, but enough to appreciate what the unbroken line of fandom, from 1937 on, meant. and i was brought up in fandom by people who understood the kind of fan i am – while, as previously noted, Verne/Disney (film) and Heinlein (literary) were my start, my third fandom was “Star Trek”. before i was out of high school i’d added wargaming and roleplaying games. along the way i picked up an appreciation of anime. videogaming comes in there as well, especially given the plethora of science fiction, fantasy, and horror titles. was never much into cosplay or filking, but hey, they’re fans. conventions are our tent revivals, where we can be among our own people, no matter what our fandom. we share, and have shared with us, the interests (and obsessions) that make us the little freaks we are. when i go in a dealers room, there isn’t much in there that i’m NOT interested in, from jewelry to weapons to costuming pieces (because i want My FUCKING TOPHAT!) to comics, books, films, soundtracks, buttons, knickknacks, handcrafted whatevers, toys (you betcha), games, minis… it’s all fandom. it’s all good. it all should be embraced, at least in the theoretical, when throwing a convention. i want a bar, i want a dance (note- i do not particularly want TO dance, unless it’s something real slow that i can sway with my sweetie to), i want panels, i want media guests, i want a film room (with stuff i probably could find online if i knew it existed, but i don’t – sharing, remember?), i want parties, i want conversations, i want a good breakfast buffet…
i want to be with My People. all of them.

and if your private little party isn’t inclusive, isn’t reaching out to the whole panoply of fandoms, then i’m having less and less interest in you.

this may well not be the last post i make on this subject, but i’ve got to catch a shower before speed writing tonight, so i’m gonna close this for now.
below are reports about WorldCon, this year and in the past, and they all provide some insight.
let’s discuss this among ourselves, shall we?








opening the dealers room to the public is a brilliant idea – it always has been, no matter what the convention. perhaps logistically problematical, but a convention’s vendors deserve the best opportunities they can get.




listening to: Tower of Song – Leonard Cohan
mood: frustrated

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