by Rob Balder
September 3-6, 2004
It’s probably time to stop wondering how Dragon*Con manages to exist, how it can flawlessly function with the complexity of an aircraft carrier (and the population of five), while still reverberating with indulgent, joyful chaos. A hundred explanatory backstories could certainly be written. Perhaps it enjoys the protection of ancient gods, or shadowy present-day immortals, or secret keepers of True Magicks, or benevolent time travelers, or the Galactic Council. Whoever they are, they stopped a hurricane in its tracks for this one.
If we do accept Dragon*Con as a beautiful impossibility, as the blessed event that it is, then we’re still left with the near impossibility of describing it. Numbers are not adequate, but this one was roughly a match for last year’s 30,000+ attendance. The record twenty-seven tracks, each like a con unto itself, boasted a total approaching 500 guests, panelists, speakers and performers. You could be a happy Trekkie or Buffista or pervy hobbit-fancier and wallow in your favorite fandom from dusk to dawn for four days straight.
But you’d miss some of the outside-the-box offerings, such as a pro wrestling show (featuring midget wrestling), Robot Battles (featuring an antweight division), or the Independent Film Festival (featuring many short films). Don’t ever say there’s nothing small about Dragon*Con. A really interesting and fun addition this year was Dr. Demento, who hosted several concerts featuring filk and fandom parodies from Tom Smith, Tony Goldmark, The Great Luke Ski and the omnipresent goth-magnet Voltaire.
But honestly, it would be possible to come to Dragon*Con, never get an autograph, never see a show, never attend a workshop, never watch a video, never play a game, never buy a shirt, never listen to a panel… and still have the best weekend of your year. That’s because the greatest attraction of Dragon*Con is the other con-goers. The costumes are incomparable, as is the camaraderie.
So go in a group, a big one. Have a base room to work from. Have booze, snacks, and a well-stocked medicine cabinet in your base room. Get your garb on, and go mingle. Wander the halls, the bars, the restaurants surrounding the hotels. Talk to everybody about everything. The sheer mass of people in meatspace can get a little nerve-racking, even if you’re not agoraphobic. All you have to do is just keep in mind that all of these people are your friends: your weird-ass, wonderful friends.
And if you have never been to Dragon*Con, you must put it on your “Things To Do Before I Die” list. Move “have a threesome” off of there to make room if you have to. It was never gonna happen anyway.
Once again, Nth Degree would like to salute the hard-working, seamlessly competent staff of Dragon*Con, particularly Star Roberts in Media Relations. If there are ancient, secret, advanced, alien, or magical forces involved, she is certainly one of them.