In my last Dragon Con article, I covered the reporter’s pub crawl and the annual parade so what’s next? The shenanigans of course! From the time I got to the convention area Friday afternoon, until I left Sunday afternoon, there was so much that happened. This year I was accompanied my friend and part-time handler, Kent.
Before we attacked Dragon Con with reckless abandon there was one thing we had to do…eat. We had a late breakfast at the Metro Café. Being the second year in a row we ate there it was officially a tradition. We then made our way to the Sheraton so Kent could pick up his badge. While walking we ran into fellow Chicagoan and cosplayer, Kali Neko. Don’t know who that is? You’re in luck because Kent and I interviewed her. Have a listen—it’s awesome. Also while at the Sheraton we met people promoting BlerDCon, a convention in Arlington, highlighting and showcasing the rich diversity of the minority community contributing to geekdom.
After all badges were acquired it was time to explore. We went from the Marriott Marquis to the Hyatt to the Westin, and then back to the Hyatt. We figured enough time had passed that we could go to the vendor’s area without there being too much of a line. To give a frame of reference when we first attempted to enter the vendor’s area at Dragon Con 2015 the line was three and a half blocks long. THREE AND A HALF ATLANTA CITY BLOCKS to spend money. It was crazy. Did I stand in that line? Yes. Why? We had no idea that the entrance could possibly be that far away. I will say it didn’t take nearly as long as I imagined to get it but still…
Flash forward to 2016 and the line was only a block and a half long so we thought we had a win. As soon as we got in line they stopped letting people in because it was just that crowded. Once we were finally able to get in there were three floors of vendors to explore and I set out to see every single one of them. While the first two floors remained the same as previous years (i.e. awesome) the third floor was where things had changed. The comic artist alley was moved from the Hyatt to America’s Mart which offered the art show a significant increase in floor space. It also allowed for wider lanes which made it much easier for shoppers to stand at tables without accidentally blocking other people from walking through. Another change was that Joystick Gamebar brought some of their arcade games for Dragon Con attendees to play for free. I had a great time destroying my friend playing NBA Jam. This was not my last trip to the vendor area, by Sunday afternoon I had bought some good stuff.
The gaming track was also moved from the Hilton to America’s Mart building 1. It was great that there was so much space for table top gaming, DDR, ITG, and other types of games. The top floor had a Chick-Fil-A so there was really no reason to leave the building. I continue to be amazed that Dragon Con finds way to grow.
I left the convention area a bit early so we could attend a meetup that was planned for my podcast network (ETMF Podcast Network, PLUG!!!), Aaron and Fiq from The Black Astronauts Podcast Network, and Amber the host of the Black Chick Watching. It was great to meet up with other podcasters and some listeners that I don’t get to see to talk about how different our times at Dragon Con had been. Fiq grew up in the same area in suburban Chicago that I did so we had a fun conversation about who had the better high school. The meetup event further proved that Dragon Con is about the fans and it always brings people together.
The next morning was the Dragon Con Parade. You can read about that experience in my previous Dragon Con article. Most of Saturday was just typical Dragon Con behavior— just walk around and see where the Con takes you. I spent a bunch of time taking pics of cosplayers, and talking to people. The biggest issue I have with panels are the crazy lines. I just refuse to stand in line for over 45 minutes because there are so many other things I could be doing. However, I did actually attend a panel this year. Surprisingly, we were able to walk right into a Buffy panel. The panel included James Leary (Clem), Eliza Dushku (Faith), and James Marsters (Spike). The panel was hilarious and told great stories about working on Buffy. It was quite obvious that they all had fond memories of working on the series and had all the love and respect in the world for Joss Whedon. The panelists were visibly a bit disappointed when the time was up and the panel had to end.
Before we got to the night life portion of our evening we had the first of our two celebrity photo ops. First was my close and personal friend, Carlos Valdes, also known as Cisco from the CW show The Flash. Did I know him before we took our picture? Of course not! But the way I hugged him made me feel like we were long-lost friends. Hey, I’m a hugger, sue me!
Now for the best part of my Dragon Con experience this year being in these streets. We tried to check out one of the official sponsored parties, The Heroes and Villains Ball but the line was crazy long. As a result, we hit the Marriott Pulse Bar instead. As expected, the place was packed and everyone was having a great time. After some time enjoying a few adult beverages we noticed a crowd at the Pulse Loft. Once we got up there we realized we they were playing hip-hop. The music plus a bar solidified our location for the night. THAT PARTY WAS CRACKIN!!!!! I was starting to feel like I was back at a college party. The music was great, the drinks floweth, the people were great, and I even witnessed and impromptu intro to twerking class. I enjoyed that party so much I am officially on a mission to get a sponsored hip-hip party next Dragon Con.
Once the Pulse Loft closed we continued hanging out around the Marriott where we ran into cosplayer Tony Ray. I met Tony at the previous Dragon Con. We talked for a while before he introduced us to Austin Creed, better known as WWE Superstar; part of the W…W…E World Tag Team Champions, The New Day, Xavier Woods. He was extremely nice and even took a picture with us sporting his awesome Johnny Cage cosplay. By this time, it was damn near 3 a.m. and it was well past my bedtime so we called it a night.
My last day at Dragon Con had one real purpose, to take our second celebrity photo-op with the great Alex Kingston; The Doctor’s wife, River Song! Our picture time wasn’t until 5 p.m. but filling time is never a problem. We did our best to spend even more money at the vendor area and even caught a second panel. This time we got to see many of the cast from the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. The panel included Casper Crump (Vandal Savage), Falk Hentschel (Hawkman), Calty Lotz (White Canary), and Ciara Renee (Hawkgirl). They all talked about auditioning for the show, their favorite episodes, and where they thought the show would go next season. It’s always interesting to hear actor’s perspective on how the TV business works and how hard it is to not reveal spoilers before the shows air. It was pretty funny how many fans commented on just how great Casper Crump’s beard is. I will admit it’s a damn fine beard but people really thought he had some secret that he could share with the crowd. His advice to guys with beards is to make sure to shampoo them more often.
The photo-op Kent and I had with Alex Kingston was the last part of my Dragon Con 2016 experience. Year three was even more fun than I could have imagined. Even though I feel like I saw everything I really wanted to see, there is always more. It was great meeting new people and making new connections. I can’t wait to start working on helping to create a new Dragon Con event. I really hope we can make it happen. Enjoy the pictures I took all over the convention. Until next year Dragon Con.