Two Weekends, Two Conventions

The fol­low­ing has noth­ing to do with the over­all sub­ject of the blog yet every­thing to do with the con­tin­u­al main­te­nance of the own­er of the blog.

The past two week­ends were occu­pied with either attend­ing and/or work­ing two wide­ly dif­fer­ent yet strange­ly sim­i­lar con­ven­tions. (And thanks to the Word­Press sched­ul­ing sys­tem, I was able to com­plete my posts ahead of time yet pub­lish them on a reg­u­lar sched­ule.) As some­one who used to attend maybe 6–8 con­ven­tions a year when I could afford them, get­ting to more than two that aren’t local is more than a lit­tle depress­ing. Still, it was good to get out to them, if only to remind myself to have a good time.

CONvergence

CON­ver­gence is a region­al-sized SF con­ven­tion in Min­neapo­lis: I have now attend­ed three, one a cou­ple of years ago when it fea­tured authors Mer­cedes Lack­ey (who I know as Misty Lack­ey from read­ing her fan writ­ing before she went pro­fes­sion­al) and her hus­band Lar­ry Dixon, both of whom rarely do con­ven­tions because of their busy sched­ules and involve­ment with out­side respon­si­bil­i­ties, then the last two because of invi­ta­tions from a very good local friend who let me stay at her place instead of need­ing a hotel room.

This year I went with the pur­pose of hav­ing fun, and fun I did, both at the con­ven­tion and with my friends out­side of the con­ven­tion. Because I love to do pan­els, and despite the late­ness of my request, I was actu­al­ly able to even be on two pan­els, one on the Legion of Super Heroes and one on Bond gad­gets, and the oth­er pan­els I attend­ed it seemed as it I should have been on them, any­way, giv­en how much I con­tributed to them.

What I find inter­est­ing is the very vibrant fan com­mu­ni­ty in the Min­neapo­lis / St Paul Twin Cities area, to the point it can sup­port at least two SF con­ven­tions, an ani­me con­ven­tion and a gam­ing con­ven­tion, as well as a num­ber of reg­u­lar fan com­mu­ni­ty activ­i­ties. Its a com­mu­ni­ty I could like being a part of.

IkasuCon

Ika­su­Con is a local ani­me that is a trans­plant from Cincin­nati: the con­ven­tion com­mit­tee was dis­ap­point­ed in their local con­ven­tion facil­i­ties and looked around the gen­er­al area for bet­ter facil­i­ties, and when they came here, they found an excel­lent facil­i­ty (and were giv­en cook­ies, too!) Many of the staff still live in the Cincin­nati area, but grad­u­al­ly a num­ber of locals are “infil­trat­ing” the ranks, includ­ing myself as the local mar­ket­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive, which means that I walked around the con­ven­tion a lot, car­ry­ing my cam­era and tak­ing pic­tures of indi­vid­u­als. I found sev­er­al excel­lent cos­tumes in evi­dence and took a num­ber of pic­tures that I call “mon­ey shots” that are des­tined for my fan­nish dis­play book.

What I find inter­est­ing here is the very active local ani­me fans, many of whom are ardent cos­tumers. That stands in coun­ter­point to the seem­ing lack of any kind of local orga­nized fan com­mu­ni­ty: as the sec­ond largest city in the state, there should be enough sup­port to have its own SF con­ven­tion and be oth­er­wise active, yet there isn’t the sup­port for an SF con, and the local gam­ing con­ven­tion is slow­ly fad­ing into obliv­ion. That’s why I find the ani­me con­ven­tion so dif­fer­ent that I hope it will be the focus of more local fan­nish activity.

Similarities

The sim­i­lar­i­ties between the two con­ven­tions is the ener­gy that per­me­ates them. Its rather breath­tak­ing for some­one whose been in var­i­ous fan­doms for over 30 years to see the peo­ple there, many of whom are maybe â…“ of my age: Hav­ing watched a num­ber of the fra­ter­nal orga­ni­za­tions my par­ents were a part of start slow­ly fad­ing away, I have been con­cerned the same thing hap­pen­ing with SF fan­dom. These two con­ven­tions remind me that fan­dom is still a thriv­ing cul­ture: Per­haps not thriv­ing in the same areas (ani­me, for instance) than when I start­ed, but thriv­ing nonetheless.

In short, attend­ing both of these ener­getic con­ven­tions was like refu­el­ing: I am a social ani­mal yet I don’t have the resources to get out as much as I would like, so a week­end (or two) like this will have to suffice.

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