When I was first asked to write this article, it was jokingly suggested that I should use a pen name in an effort to disguise my social life from its forthcoming murder. A tempting offer, especially following a party where conversation literally came to a halt when from across the room a friend shouted, “So Nicole, how was Dragon Con?” Dragon Con being the sci-fi convention I attended over the summer. Much like the more infamous Comic-Con, lovers of comic books and everything science fiction and fantasy, flock to Dragon Con to enthuse about their favourite series (and often while dressed as characters from those series). Since attending a sci-fi convention isn’t seen as a celebrated social norm here in St Andrews, I’ll admit that my immediate reaction was to blush and quickly try to justify it. But the thing is, however geeky or weird Dragon Con might sound to some, being a part of it was the coolest I have ever felt.
As far as cons go, Dragon Con has a reputation for being the party con. Picture the ultimate fancy dress party, but instead of in a house, its 60,000 invitees ravage the night in hotel rooms and along the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. So let me just put to rest the myth that cons are nothing more than a breeding ground for middle-aged men playing Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, people like that are there. But I love that they are. Dragon con attracts men and women of all ages and from all backgrounds. Some play up the sexy costumes, others spend months constructing intricate, and often hilarious, cosplay. My personal idol being the young woman dressed as Charizard, whom I squeezed into an elevator with. Though on that note, I also swooned over a very attractive man dressed as Misty, short shorts, crop top, pigtail, and all. You can like what you like, and it’s cool to like it.
One of the main attractions of attending Dragon Con is meeting other people interested in the same things that you are. Anyone can organize a meet up for a specific fandom, but chances are you’ll find those people just while walking down the street. Dressed as Toothless from the film How to Train Your Dragon, and dripping in sweat because actually wearing a dragon costume at Dragon Con is a terrible idea due to Atlanta’s blistering heat, any discomfort was worth it when I finally found my Hiccup. We stopped to talk about the film, compliment each other’s costumes and clearly fantastic taste, and of course to take a few pictures together.
“Your con experience is really what you make of it,” I was told upon arrival. In addition to the laid-back party aspect, there are also screenings, meet and greets, and panels you have the option of filling your schedule with. I’ve attended an academic discussion of father figures in Harry Potter, a screening of The Last Unicorn with live commentary from the author, and a panel of local filmmakers giving advice on how to break into the industry. For anyone who’s familiar with Land of the Lost, circa 1970s, during a photo op Wesley Eure even said I was making him blush!
Realistically, it’s probably the only atmosphere I’ve been in where I’ve felt indisputably accepted to be myself. Moving as part of this massive sea of people taking over the city, you feel an overwhelming sense of unity. It’s exciting, and more than that, it’s empowering letting my freak flag fly, so to speak. For if taking part in Dragon Con makes me a freak, or a geek, or whatever else you’d like to call me, than I’m proud to be just that.