My local Big Convention, CONvergence, is coming up very, very soon.
How did that happen?
In the words of the website:
“CONvergence is an annual convention for fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy in all media, held each July at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bloomington. We are a 4-day event with more than 5,000 attendees, and the premiere event of our kind in the upper mid-west.
2012′s convention theme is Wonder Women, a four-day celebration of the female creators and characters of science fiction, and you can expect that theme to run through many of the panels, parties and costumes to be found at CONvergence this year.”
That doesn’t quite convey the, the sheer scope of the convention, really.
There are larger conventions, certainly. No question. And there are conventions with more specialized depth, again, without question. But CONvergence does something of which I heartily approve. CONvergence tries, very hard, to include everyone.
There is a movie room, full of couches and dim light and popcorn. Movies play something around twenty hours a day for four days. There is an anime room, with chairs and dim light and imported snacks. Anime plays for something around twenty hours a day for four days. There is a LAN gaming room that runs until everyone’s eyeballs are bleeding. There is tabletop and CCG and other gaming. There is a masquerade costume contest. There is live music in at least two venues. There is DJ’d music in at least two venues. There is a pool and hot tub. There is an art show. There is a science crafts room. There is a dealer’s room. There is programming on movies, comics, tv, books, culture, and science the runs from morning until long after the watershed. There are radio dramas. Live comedy. Free coffee drinks and tea for about eighteen hours a day for four days. A consuite that feeds thousands of people every day for four days. And there are parties.
The party circuit at CONvergence is an unholy beast of a thing. All the parties face a two-story open-air space containing the pool and an open courtyard. All the parties — what are there, forty of them? — run from about nine o’clock at night until about three in the morning, more or less. Because of the courtyard, they are really one gigantic open-air party, six hours a night. The noise is deafening. The alcohol does not stop flowing. The snacks are superb and the eye-candy is unparalleled.
Because the convention is four days, because it runs twenty-four hours for four days — with minor lapses in the action between four and eight a.m. — there is something for everyone. You can go to the programming, and have a quiet night in. You can sleep until two p.m., have a fortifying dinner, and party until three a.m.. You can spend all your time — and money — in the art show and the dealer’s room. You can stand in lines and get things signed by authors, artists, and tv folk. You can spend an afternoon in the science lab making crafts after a morning of all-ages anime. You can spend four days catching up with friends you never see elsewhere, loitering in the hot tub and sipping free espresso.
Your mileage may truly vary.
Now, because CONvergence does all of these things, there are going to be other conventions that do some of these things much better. That’s as may be. Go to Dragon*Con if you like, go to San Diego, go to Anime Iowa, go to WorldCon. That’s fine, that’s ducky. I’m not saying CONvergence is any of those things. But what it is, is it’s a pan-geek party of mind-blowing proportions. If you have a niche, you will find your ilk at CONvergence. Somewhere. Just be patient and look around.
You will, of course, have to put up with everyone else doing their things too, at the same time. CONvergence is not scent-free, it’s not peanut-free, there is unscheduled nudity and surprise libertarianism. It is loud, ye gods and little fishes, it is punishingly loud courtyardside at midnight on Friday. You will be pushed. You will be poked by someone’s wings or bat’leth. Drunk people will be drunk at, near, and around you. Your views, however right you are, will be provoked or ignored. You will get sticky and people will be late. Especially to meet for dinner. If you require more control of your surroundings, CONvergence is perhaps not quite the thing for you.
I will say, it’s not the thing for me as a steady diet. I like people to be on time, I don’t like sticky, and surprise libertarianism and I are not the best of friends. But for four days a year I purely love this convention. It is inclusive as all-get-out. I and mine are welcome here under a sort of leave-well-enough-alone banner that appeals to me.
I’m going to be on an alarming number of panels this year. I have said for many years that I don’t care for the panels at CONvergence, that they are not my cup of tea. I decided to put up and volunteer instead of whingeing. But, as I said, there is so much going on at the con I am not worried about missing things. Whatever fun is happening, there will be more in a minute, just around the corner.
Hope to see some of you there!