Dave and I attend a convention about once a month, mostly gaming conventions. We had a choice this month. Do we attend PAX in Seattle, or Dragon*Con in Atlanta? We made the incorrect decision.
(If you prefer your E to be cheerful, bubbly, and adorable, you may want to leave this post now.)
A few things influenced our decision to attend Dragon*Con rather than PAX:
- We could drive to Dragon*Con. No plane tickets necessary.
- We had heard Dragon*Con was one of those cons that every geek had to experience.
- We had already attended PAX East this year (which I’m pretty sure is where I picked up mono, but that’s unrelated). While we had fun, we weren’t sure that we wanted to do two PAXes is one year.
So, Dragon*Con it was! Our friend Jared von Hindman had been couch-surfing in the States between GenCon and Dragon*Con to avoid having to fly back and forth from Germany. We were the last stop on his couch-tour, so he hopped in our backseat for the drive to Atlanta, which definitely made the long trip more fun.
A Comedy of Car-Related Errors
We finally get to Atlanta and are trying to get to Jared’s hotel, The Westin. We can SEE it, but between the multiple one-way streets and several police road blocks, we end up circling around for what seemed like hours, getting stuck in the same intersections again and again and again. At the end of a long road trip, this is the last thing we wanted.
After dropping Jared off at the Westin, we do the same round and round and round trying to get to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency. We finally pull up, ready to hand off the car to the valet and pay ANY PRICE just to GTFO of the car.
But no, valet parking is full. I get out of the car with our luggage while Dave drives to the self-park lot around the corner. The self-park lot for the Hyatt was also full, so he parked in a nearby ghetto lot where you have to shove your dollars into a slot in a big box. At least the car was parked.
We returned the next day to pay the box again to find the car BOOTED with a sticker on the window with the number of the boot removal place. Apparently paying the box only gets you parking until 6 am the following day. If we wanted to be in the lot for another day, we were going to have to wake up at 5:30 am, walk to the box, and restuff it. Oh, and there were no receipts or anything. No way for us to prove when we’d parked. The numbers on the signs for the parking lot had no one manning the phones. $75 later, the car was free.
We drove a bit down the street and found a parking garage. The guy at the gate said “Six dollars.” We were like, “What about overnight?” “Six dollars,” he said. We were skeptical. “Are you SURE we can park here overnight?” He nodded. “Yep.” We parked, driving past a sign that said NO OVERNIGHT PARKING: VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED. Ummmm… we asked again as we walked out of the lot. “Are you SUUUUURE we can park overnight?” He said as long as we left the ticket on our windshield, we were fine.
After the Dragon*Con fiasco (more on that in a bit) was over, we carried all our luggage back to this parking garage to find the gate closed. Panic. There was a phone box on the wall with a sign saying to call the security office after hours. Dave called and luckily a friendly security guard came out, opened the gate, and let us free. No additional money for the night of parking.
Dave spoke with one of the front desk staff at the Hyatt about the parking situation and we were given the blow-off answer, “This is what happens when the dragon convention is in town. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
Boob-Watching & Eye Bleach Moments
If you enjoy breasts, you may enjoy Dragon*Con.
There are tons of breasts everywhere. Breasts in corsets, breasts in tight t-shirts, breasts in spandex, breasts in latex, breasts covered in electrical tape, breasts in body paint and pasties, and if you attend the right parties, just plain ol’ naked breasts.
If you enjoy ass, you may enjoy Dragon*Con.
There is tons of ass everywhere. Ass in short skirts, ass in thongs, ass in spandex, ass in latex, ass covered in electrical tape, ass in body paint, and just plain ol’ naked ass.
However, no matter how much wonderful T&A you may view at Dragon*Con, nothing will erase the eye bleach moments.
- On Friday, a girl who was “skinny-fat.” She was beautiful from the front… but when we saw her from behind… oh good gods. It was like her ass was made of melting wax. Jiggling melting wax. In a thong. Be glad I didn’t take a picture.
- On Saturday, a 65-year-old man in a micro-kilt. Seriously, I was expecting to see his junk waggling just under the hem. Be glad I didn’t take a picture.
- On Sunday, a large man in his 30s dressed as Captain Underpants, running down the street by the Hilton. Be glad I didn’t take a picture.
The #1 Reason Why I Won’t Attend Dragon*Con Again
Dragon*Con is the most overcrowded, unorganized con I have attended to date. Instead of being in a convention center, it’s spread out across many of the downtown Atlanta hotels. While GenCon does this beautifully, GenCon also has the central hub of the Indy Convention Center, which is easily connected to nearly all the other GenCon hotels.
Dragon*Con doesn’t have this convenience. Each hotel is its own entity. Want to know how to get to the Hyatt from the Marriott? The Hilton from the Hyatt? You’re on your own. Sure, there’s a map, but you won’t be able to stop to read it.
Which brings me to my next point…
Dragon*Con is full to the brim with impatient and downright RUDE people.
If you stop, even for an instant, you’ll get bodychecked by someone. Actually, even if you don’t stop, you’ll be bumped and jostled by more people than you can count.
Want to stop in the dealers’ hall and admire something at a booth? Maybe even make a purchase? Good luck. You’ll be pushed along by the people behind you and most likely hear a few nasty words about you blocking the way.
If you find an open spot to walk, you’ll be yelled at for walking there. Every once in a while you spot a straight shot of space between you and where you’re going. Don’t do it. You’re walking right through someone’s perfectly posed cosplay shot and you will be yelled at by a very bitchy Wonder Woman who will call you a few choice words. Sorry sweetheart, we’ll return you to your 85th self-esteem boost of the day in just a second.
Going down the escalator? There will be a giant wall of people at the bottom. When you get to the bottom, you can’t step off. You will trip off. Then the people behind you will SHOVE YOU WITH BOTH HANDS into the sea of people in front of you. This happened to me and I watched it happen to many other people. Then the person behind you will yell “MOOOOOVE!!!”
Want to see your favorite stars in their panel or get a book signed by a favorite author? One, you need to be sure the right hotel and room is listed in the program book. The one signing Dave wanted to attend was listed incorrectly. By the time he found out where the signing really was, the line was around the block. Your best bet for actually seeing a panel is standing in line for 2-3 hours OR watching it on Dragon*Con’s TV channel back in your hotel room. This is how we managed to see the Firefly panel.
You will wait for 20 minutes for an elevator to your room. At all hours. When you’re on the 19th floor, the stairs just aren’t an option. So you wait. With all of humanity. And sometimes, like us, you’ll wait 20 minutes for an elevator to have it stolen by Summer Glau and her handlers. I don’t care if you’re famous, it’s still rude.
Finally… If you go to bed at an “old folks” time like midnight or 1 am, you will be able to hear the raging parties at full volume until at least 5 am.
Need A Better Visual?
Ever been to the mall on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)?
Dragon*Con is like that… except with twice as many people. Half of them have wings or extra arms that stretch beyond their body and they don’t have awareness of them, so you’ll get a wing to the eye while you’re trying to squeeze past them in the food court.
You won’t be able to get into your favorite store without waiting in line for three hours, and once you get in, you won’t be able to stop long enough to look at the things you want to buy. By the time you get out of that store, all the other stores you wanted to check out will be closed or sold out of the things you want.
Oh, there will be some mostly naked people there, but all the tits & ass in the world wouldn’t be worth the people-overload experience and the moments that require eye bleach.
…The Bright Side of Life…
Always look on the bright side of life…. *whistles*
The ups of Dragon*Con:
- Hanging out with Y & Sapheriel, my old roommates from Charlotte.
- Jared von Hindman, who constantly thanked us for letting him couch surf and driving him to Dragon*Con. And his lovely wife, Rachel, who hung out with us after finding out the vampire LARP she had been looking forward to attending was canceled.
- Buying a blue Chibithulhu for my Chibithulhu collection and a cute print at the art sale of crazy kitties (included Cat-thulhu) for my cube at work.
- Playing Fiasco with DaveTheGame, Rachel von Hindman, David & Rick from Gold: The Series, and Jared von Hindman, who wasn’t an actual player but hopped in to voice the various NPCs we needed. We played DaveTheGame’s new (unnamed) playset, which was basically Animal House meets Lovecraft. I was Nora the pothead dance major, who smokes to stay skinny because instead of getting the munchies, she gets horny. In the end, I was turned into some sort of tentacled something-or-other during a cultist ritual and later my mostly-lifeless body was “rescued” by my pot dealer, who threw me into a wood chipper and blended my remains into a new variety of pot. In conclusion: AWESOME. If you haven’t played Fiasco, you are missing out on my favorite non-D&D RPG.
I spent all of Dragon*Con being miserable, hot, and shoved around by strangers. Meanwhile, I read all of my friends’ tweets about the amazing experience at PAX. Everything at PAX seemed to be the things I *wanted* to be doing.
Dragon*Con, I have experienced you and you sucked. I hated you. Nearly every minute.
Next year, I am going to PAX.