Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Just Like Mardi Gras, only Geekier

Tony, Susan and I sat in the restaurant/bar of the Hyatt Regency downtown last Friday, talking and laughing and people watching. It was the first night of DragonCon, and all around us Storm Troopers, hobbits, elves and general fantasy characters walked on by. My favorites were the nearly naked people who had painted themselves green or copper or silver and then stripped with only long cloths between their legs and maybe a halter-top. People had horns and pointed ears and dreadlocks and great big wigs of every kind you could possibly think of. There were Queens and princesses and the devil and even a few gods. Multiple versions of Supergirl and Spider-Man hung out with Cobra Commandoes and Generals of the Imperial Army.

This weekend I had quite a few friends in town from Nashville, which was awesome because of course I've not seen everybody since the move from Boston. Tony and Andrew, two of my favorite people in the whole world, had a room in the Hyatt on the 17th floor, where the celebrity green room was. Along with Susan and Scott, two other workers from the old bookstore in Nashville, they were there to work the Con in exchange for passes and a reduced hotel rate.

My old friend from High School, Mike, was there too, and I actually ran into some people I hadn't seen in years on the street. It was crazy. Imagine 30,000 gentle freaks swarming two of the largest hotels you've ever been in. Whatever you imagined, DragonCon was at least 3 times better than whatever you thought of. It's my new Mardi Gras.

Tony and Andrew brought with them buckets of liquor, and we drank and people watched quite a bit, which was my favorite thing to do. Everyone else was there to go to the events - there were about 15 different events going on all at the same time for four days. Every meeting room in the Hyatt and Marriott hotels downtown was used for DragonCon. Every room was full.

Friday night I people-watched, Saturday I went to the parade, which creeped me out beyond belief. When the squadrons of storm troopers passed me by, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It was the flag that really got me - just like our American flag, but with the seal of the evil empire where the stars should be. It made for some great pictures though. I hung out in the Buffy room some, and won a CD which I sold to Mike. I went to a discussion on Alan Moore, and sat with Tony through a Wheel of Time trivia contest that cracked me up because the fans couldn't agree on the pronunciation of things. Mostly though I just hung out with friends and admired the whole spectacle. Artwork was being sold in one room for thousands of dollars, and in the dealer's room one man had actually made batarangs. You can have a custom made pair of Superman boots for $500.

Everyone at DragonCon just seemed so...comfortable with themselves. This made me so happy, to be in this space where everyone could be whoever they wanted to be, do and dress however they'd always wanted too for four days, without worry or much critique, unless it was invited. Even the forty year old guys who were klingons, who would normally creep me out, I even felt happy for them. This was their space, the place where they were most happy. Rock on with your bad proud freaky klingon selves for four days in Atlanta, middle aged geeks. As I watched the klingons eating in the restaurant next to a table full of club-kid Cyberpunks, I started smiling uncontrollably. Damn, I love Atlanta.

Sunday I didn't go until later in the day, but dressed up in a nice party dress for the costume ball. I ended up not attending because of the crowd, but my backstage luck was on and I ended up in the greenroom, watching part of it on a simulcast screen with the people who didn't have to be part of the crowd. Later in the evening Susan and I went to retrieve her husband from the LARP'ers and I ended up talking with another friend until midnight.

Social time. That's what I missed in Boston. Huge festivals surrounded by friends laughing and talking all day and night. Susan, Scott, Tony, and Andrew having a room in the Hyatt was awesome, because when you needed a dark, quiet place to get away from the crowd for a bit, you had somewhere to go. Several times over the weekend I was able to knock on the door and enter into a darkened room of calm, where I could sit in a chair with my eyes closed for a minute, and relax from all the stimulation outside. Not to mention the shots and margaritas. I'm going to try to get my own room next year with a few people, near to Tony and Andrew's, so we can have sort of an enlarged, two-room chill out pad. Maybe. It all depends on the money situation, of course.

Monday morning I said goodbye to everyone, and came back to a party at Audrey and Jamie's house, where people were wondering why I wouldn't drink to catch up with them. I had been drinking since Friday, and all though I wasn't hung-over or anything, my body kept telling me how tired it was, how run down it felt. I'm not 19 anymore, and that sucks. But I've decided I might not outgrow the need to go to big festivals yet. I loved being part of the huge crowd this weekend, and I love drinking with friends and people watching as much as I ever have. DragonCon next year is a must do - hooray for super big parties!!!

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