Not my normal geek type post today, but still very geeky. This weekend I was at a science fiction convention at the Renaissance Hotel in Heathrow called Inva2ion. One word sums up the weekend for me:
This was my fourth convention ever, and they just keep getting better. They are run by a guy called Sean Harry, and his company StarFury Conventions, and they are just the perfect mix of sci-fi geekery, and all night partying. These are not like your Comic-Con type events you may see on TV shows or the news when people talk about conventions, they are much smaller affairs with a much more relaxed atmosphere. There are usually a good selection of guests doing talks through the weekend, and quite often they will join you for a good party each evening. All the attendees are fantastic as well, you couldn’t hope to meet a better group of people.
Now this weekend started off well and kept on getting better. As soon as I arrived at the hotel with my good friend Mandy, and had checked in, we went down to the lobby to see who was about. As well as some of the usual convention regulars, Aaron Douglas (The chief, from Battlestar Galactica) was having a few drinks with some of the attendees. It turns out he had got there a day earlier (and so had some of the attendees) and was actually staying in the same hotel. Most other guests get put in a different hotel so they can escape the fans if they want to. Not the chief! He was here to do some serious partying! So, the weekend started simply sat round the bar chatting with someone I’d been watching on TV just the day before.
You find some of the guests really do embrace the fans and enjoy themselves at these conventions, and to be sat in the bar whilst Aaron is tweeting pictures of gifts he’d been given, and telling Wil Wheaton that his fans are so much better, shows how fun these events are.
The Saturday and Sunday daytimes are taken up with guest talks which are almost always highly entertaining. Each guest has so many fantastic stories to tell and the fans have the chance to ask what they want. This weekend was no exception. Aaron kept the audience in stitches telling us about meeting Robin Williams, who turns out to be a big BSG fan, and also not recognising Joss Whedon whilst talking to him at a bar (almost a capital sin with some of the convention goers). Alessandra Torresani (The original Cylon from Caprica) was her usual bubbly self, and managed to get a few stories in, even though she shared the stage with Aaron. The girls from Stargate: Universe (Elyse Levesque, Alaina Huffman) were rather fun and told some good stories about behind the scenes, and also gave us a rather crude rap! The Guild girls (Amy Okuda and Robin Thorsen) were all lovely, with Felicia Day taking center stage as the Queen of the Geeks. Eliza Dushku seemed to be the guest that a lot of attendees had been waiting to see at a convention for a long time, and shared the stage with Dichen Lachman (Sierra from Dollhouse). The only guest that I didn’t see was one of the convention regulars, Jim Swallow, who is someone whos work you will probably have seen, but not realised. He is a writer for many sci-fi shows, including Star Trek, and had a lot of support and advice for potential writers.
Now, these were all the talks on Saturday. I only made it to one talk on the Sunday, and that involved a couple of rather hung over Cylons, and the Rev Johnny Woodward, and communion. Now communion at a convention is a sight you have to see to believe. After an hour or so of hungover (or maybe still drunk) ramblings on stage by Jonathan, Aaron, and Alessandra, a large portion of the attendees line up and pass infront of the stage. As they do, they get given a biscuit (or in this weekends case, a pringle) and then proceed to get whiskey poured down their necks (and wiped on their faces). From my understanding, this started many years ago and has become a firm convention tradition, and even if Jonathan isn’t an invited guest to a convention, he will still on occasion turn up for the party and to hold communion, even more so now he actually lives in the UK.
I didn’t make it to any of the other talks on Sunday as an old friend was in the area and popped by to see me.
As well as the talks, you also get chance to get photos taken with the guests, and items signed. I’ve never bothered partaking in this side of the convention, but may do in the future. Most of the guests are up for fun photo shoots too, with some people being rather creative in their ideas. I believe one guy turned up with a traffic cone!
Thats all the main geekiness covered, apart from the parties! Each night is a disco with a fancy dress theme, and the costumes never disappoint. Some of the attendees go all out on their costumes, and this time was no exception. Of my favourites this weekend were the steampunk Lord of the Rings group entry, and someone going as the adventurer from the old kids TV show, Knightmare. The disco is usually a good mix of music and there will be something for everyone during the night, but what has to be seen to be believed are the con dances. Over the years certain songs have been choreographed and all the regular attendees know them well. Its quite a sight to behold the whole dancefloor moving in unison, and as for Star Trekking, well… My hat is off to Aaron, Dichen, and Robin for being some of the last standing. Dichen was still bouncing all over the place at the end of the night. Too much energy! The parties carry on long after the disco has stopped and we have been thrown out of the main hall. The lobby of the hotel gets taken over and the drinking and fun carry on until the early hours. Some people infact stay up long enough to get breakfast before going to bed.
Of course, all this would be a fun weekend in itself, but what made the convention for me were the other attendees. Now, I’m not exactly a confident person when it comes to talking with people. If I’m approached, thats fine, but I can rarely go up to people to strike up a conversation. This weekend was different. I’ve started to get to know a lot of the convention regulars over the last few events, and this was the first time I actually felt like part of the convention family. I was totally at ease, and managed to get to talk to quite a few people that I’d seen from previous events but had felt uneasy in doing. Whats more, they all made me feel accepted. Monday evening was a flurry of facebook activity as I added a lot of new people. If any of you are actually reading this, you guys are just awesome!
Back to the reality of work tomorrow, and off to the States on Sunday!
Oh, and go check out Geek and Sundry!