Where do you go on Labor Day weekend if you like gaming, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Stargate, Harry Potter, Marvel movies, or any number of things related to space, paranormal, or superheroes? What about a parade with all of those things and more? Dragon Con, baby!! That's right. The annual meeting of over 75,000 geeks and nerds in Atlanta, GA.
I started going to Dragon Con in 1991 and have always had an amazing time. I've seen it grow from three days to five, from one hotel to five, from modest fan panels to huge celebrity panels. There is so much that goes on that it's impossible to do it all. In fact, it's hard to even KNOW all that goes on. Every year I hear about something new.
This was the first year that my husband, Nayr, and I hosted our own panel at Dragon Con. Anyone who knows us knows that Star Trek is our number one fandom, so our panel was on the Trek Track, the track dedicated to anything and everything about Star Trek. Our panel was called "StarPodTrek Presents Exotic Aliens of The Original Series". (StarPodTrek is the podcast my husband and I do together.)
We had a great turnout for our panel. We talked about Orions and Andorians and tribbles. Oh my! And other colorful Trek aliens! It was not our first time doing a panel, but it was our first panel at such a large convention. It was a little intimidating, but since we are both Dragon Con veterans, we took it in stride. Everything went smoothly, and we were thrilled. Doing panels is a great way to participate. I'm an introvert, but I love doing panels. It's where I get to talk about something I'm passionate about with people who are interested.
There were several con-sponsored themed parties going on every night. One such event was The Bunny Hutch. The ladies dressed up in their own creations of variations of different fandoms combined with Playboy bunny costumes. The men dressed in similar variations of Hugh Hefner-style robe and pajamas. Costumes were optional, however, for those who didn't feel like dressing up. Just bring your ID, because it's 21 and over.
It was held in a huge hotel ballroom, complete with a live DJ. This event was very popular, so obviously quite crowded. But hey, why would you go to a party that's not crowded? They topped the party off with a costume contest for those who want to enter, and nice prizes were awarded. This was my second time going to this party, and it was a blast! This year I wore a bunny-style Wonder Woman, and my husband did a Hefner-style Steve Trevor. We love to cosplay as a couple, and this was the perfect party for that. As for any Dragon*Con event, we had to get in line pretty early to ensure a spot in the party. We stood in line for an hour, but it was totally worth it! And, you know, we got to talk to some cool people standing in line.
Celebrity Q&A panels have always been a favorite of mine. One of the most memorable ones this year was Marc Singer, Jane Badler, and Robert Englund from the 80s TV movies and series "V". I was most excited to see Jane Badler, because in all the 30 years that I've been going to various cons, I have never had a chance to see her; she rarely does cons. Jane played Diana on "V", one of my favorite villainesses of all time. One thing she mentioned was that if the show had lasted longer, she would like to have seen her character have more vulnerabilities. That would have given her more dimension and made her more believable. "V" was one of the first TV movies to use CGI. Remember Diana with that stretching jaw, eating a rat? Pretty good CGI for the time!
While that panel was absolutely amazing, I am sad I didn't get to attend the other panel I had my heart set on: a Q&A panel with Karl Urban and Jack Quaid from the Amazon Prime series "The Boys". Sadly, I missed it because I was at another panel, but they were supposed to have a second panel. Unfortunately, it was cancelled because they had to leave unexpectedly early. That's one thing that can happen that always sucks: some celebrities you look forward to have to cancel. This was not the first time it has happened at a con. At least I got to go to a fan discussion panel about "The Boys".
Fan discussion panels are also really cool experiences at Dragon Con. This particular panel went into a lot of detail about the different characters. All of the characters on "The Boys" were flawed. The panelists discussed how Homelander and Butcher, the two main characters and arch enemies, are both very disturbed and very driven in their actions. The show had a very modern take on superheroes, mixing them with corporate capitalism.
Group photoshoots are another big thing about Dragon Con that I always participate in. There are so many to choose from, such as Marvel heroes or Star Wars. And there are even subsets of those, such as Spiderverse and Jedi vs. Sith. I went many years to Dragon Con without ever seeing or being in a photoshoot, but once I started doing them, I was hooked. The Star Trek photoshoot is my favorite one. They have anywhere from fifty to one hundred people show up, which is small compared to some other photoshoots, but still a lot of fun. They take groups shots with everyone there who is in costume, then divide up in groups however appropriate, such as all the Voyager costumes, all the Discovery costumes, all the villains, all the aliens, etc. It's not just about the pictures, though. It's also about meeting other people who like the same fandom, and about seeing all the wonderful creativity and workmanship they put into their costumes all in one place. Also, the sheer joy of seeing the pictures on Facebook an hour later is so totally cool!
Many have said Dragon Con is like a family reunion, and I agree. It truly is! There are many friends I see there that I don't get to see any other time. We usually hang out, get a bite to eat, and talk about our favorite panels. I also met up with the Dragon Con Loner Group, a Facebook group that I am one of the admins for. We always meet for breakfast one morning at con in the food court. Though I'm no longer a loner since I got married two years ago, it's always fun to hang and see the group again. It was so cool to run into some friends from my local group, Nashville Lady Geeks. I also met up with Metro Atlanta Geeks because they are always fun to be with. I even have a high school friend I always see at con! There were many people there from fan clubs I am in, such as Starfleet Command, Starfleet International, and Klingon Assault Group. Yep, I'm a group joiner, and D*Con is the best place for us geeky groups to meet up.
Of course, looking at all the cosplayers is a great pastime. This is hands-down the best con for quantity and quality of cosplay. There was everything from Fred Flintstone to Stranger Things to Marriott carpet (a new Dragon*Con fandom that popped up a few years ago when the Marriott got rid of their old carpet) to anime that I didn't recognize and so much more!
Nayr and I did our own cosplays too. In addition to Bunny Hutch costumes, we did Andorians, 70s Klingons, and Watchmen.
There was so much going on that, as usual, I didn't get to do everything I wanted to do. But also, there was so much more that I did that I just don't have the space to mention here. I could just go on and on about it! Dragon*Con is five days of fast-paced, frantic fun. It's a different life when you're there!