The 27th Dragon Con is now in the books and we’ve spent the better part of the last week recovering from all the fun. Well, by “we” I mean the wife and I. Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been in nonstop hyper-spaz mode since we got home, and Thing 1 only managed to go about half of a day before asking when we would be going back to Dragon Con again.
This year was big with a lot of changes. Some of the Fan Tracks have been tweaked and altered, there’s a whole new layout with the addition of the old AmericasMart Atlanta building having been added in and the dealer space now moved into its first and second floors, there’s new ownership that’s actually the old ownership trimmed down a bit, the name has a new spelling (Dragon*Con to Dragon Con) along with it, and the general view of the fans that Thursday is the new Friday is fast becoming semi-official for most. It was also big in attendance this year. I don’t know the official figures yet as they’ve not been released, but I’m guessing that 60,000 was somewhere in the ballpark.
And, like with every Dragon*Con that I’ve attended before this year’s Dragon Con, there was plenty to see and do. The guest list was stacked with half of Starfleet in attendance, two Doctor Whos with a few companions on hand, a Highlander, a MacGyver, an SG army, some visiting dwarves, a host of vampires, denizens of the Enchanted Forest, at least a couple of prominent time travelers represented, and an industry’s worth of artists, writers, and creators of all stripes crossing multiple generations of fandom. And that’s just for starters. Activities ran the gamut from both paid and free courses in how-to talks to fan panel discussions ranging from the joyfully silly to the absolutely serious, hands on (and occasionally fairly physical) fan participation events, nonstop gaming for gamers of every stripe, and joyfully geek-centric concerts (Two horns up for Voltaire’s show this year!) playing well into the late night. And, of course, the LifeSouth blood drive. We cannot leave out the LifeSouth blood drive as mention required by order of She Who Must Be Obeyed. And then there was the cosplay. One cannot discuss Dragon Con without including at least some mention of all of that wonderful cosplay.
And I did a lot of all of the above either (occasionally) on my own or most often with Jenn and the kids.
I could easily do a blog entry following the “what we did” and “who we did it with” template covering the above, but I don’t think I’ll do that this year. I think I’d rather write about what Dragon Con is. There’s a vibe at Dragon Con that you either get or you don’t get when you walk through those hotel doors and into the convention itself for the first time. Most people, by far the vast majority of them, get it. It’s why so many people love Dragon Con so much and come back every year. You see, Dragon Con is a bit special as far as the big cons go. That vibe given off by the Dragon Con community, from the owners and volunteers to the attendees and on up to some of the guests, is that this is basically time spent with your giant four day family in your amazing four day home away from home.
This year that vibe was even more noticeable or at least it seemed that way to some. Maybe it was simply the fact that we were finally there in 2013 and able to enjoy the convention after the stupidity and ugliness attempted by some in the first half of this year. Maybe it was the increase in the number of people attending this year. Maybe it was a combination of the above or maybe it was something else entirely. But, whatever the reason, that vibe was not only there this year but tangibly stronger for some than it has been in most years.
Yes, you are definitely going to Dragon Con to enjoy the convention activities. You are definitely going there to see the panels and the celebs. You are very likely going there to scour the dealer area for nifty things. But first and foremost, if you’re a regular, you’re going there to share Dragon Con with everyone else who is there. That was the vibe I felt the first time I walked through the doors when I first attended Dragon*Con in 2006, like having welcoming arms wrap themselves around you, and that’s the vibe I and others have gotten from it on every subsequent visit. You go to Dragon Con to see friends, family, and friends who have become family, some that you may only be able to see there. You go to see a group of people that you may only be able to see all in one place at one time together there. And you go there, as we did this year, to meet both old and new family and friends.
And, again, everyone else who’s there is there to be there with and share with everyone else who’s there. That’s really the point of it above and beyond anything else. Sure, you’re going to run into a few bad eggs here and there with both attendees and guests. The law of averages says that you have to with an attending population in the high tens of thousands. But the vast majority of the Dragon Con attendees and guests are there to share and enjoy (Note: Not the “Go Stick Your Head in a Pig” version.) the Dragon Con experience with everyone else there. They go there to go to their four day home away from home and spend time with their friends and their other “family” members.
And that’s what we did with our Labor Day weekend this year. I could have easily hit the generic, fill-in-the-blank laundry list of panels seen, activities enjoyed, and unique items grabbed in the dealer area, but the truth is that we did so much more at Dragon Con than the laundry list typically covers and have done so at every Dragon*Con before now. What we did was went to our once a year, four day home away from home, we caught up with old friends and family, touched base with newer friends and family, and added a few people along the way that will be on next year’s list of people we have to see and spend time with over 2014’s Labor Day weekend.
And that’s what Dragon Con is. You can go to their official website to see everything that is there to see and do at the con, but the only way to know what Dragon Con really and truly is for those that “get it” when they walk through those doors and to truly understand the love and loyalty it inspires in those who attend is by going, attending, and allowing yourself to be a part of the family that is Dragon Con and getting it yourself.
And to all of my family’s Dragon Con friends and family out there… We’ll see you all again in, as of right now, 354 days, 18 hours, 5 minutes. And to all of the new Dragon Con family and friends yet to come… Can’t wait to meet you down the road.
Edit – Nice post-convention article on Dragon Con written for the Collider news site.
5 Things You Might Not Know about Dragon Con
by Allison Keene