Well, I’m more or less recovered now from another convention weekend. Yet again, Sean Harry has proven that he can throw a damn fine party. This time it was the 3rd Annual Vampire Ball held at the Renaissance Hotel, Heathrow, London. It was my sixth convention since I was introduced to them in 2010, and my third one at the Renaissance. Its a fantastic venue with friendly staff who don’t mind the insane antics of a bunch of geeks as they take over the lobby. We decided to travel down a day early so that I was more recovered after the long drive. I’m so glad we did seeing as it took over six hours to drive there thanks to the M40 being at a standstill. It also gave us a chance to catch up with some of the other regulars.
There was a range of guests from Buffy, Angel, True Blood, and Lost Girl. Also a last minute stand in by Neil Roberts after the cancellations from Georges Jeanty and Jonathan Woodward. From Buffy and Angel we had the wonderful James Marsters, better known as Spike, and Juliet Landau who played his long time love, Drusilla. Also from the shows was Julia Lee who played the same character under three different names. Lastly from Angle was Brody Hutzler who played Lorne’s brother Landok. Representing True Blood were Mariana Klaveno and Allen Hyde. Ksenia Solo appeared from Lost Girl, a show that is just taking off over here and has thankfully been granted a third series which I can’t wait to see. I managed to see most of the guests do at least one talk, and without exception they were all fantastic.
This was the first convention for Julia Lee, despite her being a recurring character from Buffy and Angel. She’s such a stunning lady, and was great to listen to. She managed not showing the nerves that she must have been feeling. Kudos to her for surviving on the Sunday morning talk with Neil and Brody, who stood in for the missing Jonathan Woodward and gave communion to the attendees who managed to make it.
Allan and Mariana took the stage together, but unfortunately I missed most of their talk. I’m not a huge fan of True Blood, so took the opportunity to grab some food instead of attending.
Ksenia was the guest I was most looking forward to seeing. I heard about Lost Girl when it was still in season one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was the first ever convention for Ksenia and she did very well. Thankfully she confirmed that a third series is just about complete, so something to look forward to. She also had a go at hula hoop dancing on the saturday night party which drew a bit of a crowd.
These two were probably the ones that most people wanted to see, and for good reason. The gave a fantastic talk, showing just how well they work together, with such brilliant chemistry between them. They are both fabulous actors and great fun to listen to. Sean actually ran their Sunday talk a little differently, and did the first half of it as an interview, before opening it up to the floor for questions. Personally I think this is a great way of doing it, and prevents awkward silences, and gets most of the basic questions out of the way in a fairly elegant way.
Brody is another Joss Whedon alumni, and helped out with communion. I didn’t see much of his talks either unfortunately, but he certainly seemed to be an entertaining guest. He helped out with communion, getting into the ‘spirit’ of things quite quickly!
Neil Roberts is an old Starfury regular who I hadn’t seen before. He stepped in at the last minute to replace Jonathan, despite appearing at theatre each night performing Mamma Mia. He even managed to get everyone singing “Thankyou for the music” along with him and his questionable guitar playing! Julia was rather shocked when he decided to drop his trousers on stage to show his new underwear, but she quickly recovered!
Most of the guests joined in the party on saturday night, and had a good boogie on the dance floor. All of them were great fun, and obviously loved the fans.
The talks and the guests of course are for me just a bonus. The real reason I go are the parties and the punters! As Sean said in the closing ceremonies, it is rare to find a group of people who are so accepting of anyone no matter their race, colour, or disabilities. None of that matters at these events, everyone is an equal. An equal geek that is. Everyone is brought together by their love of sci-fi and fantasy. There is no room for any animosity, and its like one big (slightly disfunctional) family. I had a benefit when I started going to conventions of being introduced to them by a friend who already knew a lot of people, but what this weekend has shown me is just how welcoming the community is to the newbies!
Lots of people on the Facebook group were asking questions on the build up to the convention, with everyone more than willing to help as well as general chit chat. Once the convention had started there were lots of offers for people to meet up in the lobby and get together. Judging by the comments both to me at the end of the convention, and on Facebook, everyone had a great time and the days to the next convention are being counted. I know I personally made a few friends amongst the now non-newbies. I’m looking forward to seeing them again at whichever convention they manage to get to next.
Of course it was good to see a lot of old friends too, and get to know some of the other regulars a bit better. Monday was the usual frenzy of adding people on Facebook, a great way to keep in touch with everyone. There is way too much time in between conventions! Next up for me is Midnight, a Doctor Who convention in Birmingham. It is going to be a big event this time from all accounts, with up to 1000 attendees. Should be interesting. I can’t wait for Sean to put up the details about next years Vampire Ball to see who is attending. Having said that, I will be buying a ticket as soon as they are on sale no matter who is announced.
One thing I need to remember in future is to take a different lanyard for my pass. I’d picked up one of the spare ones in the house to use instead of the clip that you are given at registration. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised that it was the same colour as the staff ones. I only found out on the sunday evening, after fielding a fair number of questions over the weekend. I thought I just looked like the helpful type, but perhaps it was just a mistake! 😉
Thanks to Grant Gowdy for allowing me to use his pictures.