And, by someplace quiet, I meant a gathering of 30,000 fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, media, hacking, gaming, and other sundry vices and habits.
Dragon*Con is one of the largest such conventions in the country, and the largest in the south. It is Mardi-Gras for Wonks. Where Nerds Collide. Geeks gone wide. Every trekker, comic geek, fanboy/fangirl, gamer, costumer, filker, goth, larper, vampire, and furry in the American South are concentrated in one spot over the Labor Day weekend. And that's not to mention the corset-fans and women who like vinyl nurse outfits with 8 inch heels.
Our team (seven from Seattle, and two sculptors from Ohio) ran a booth and a tournament area, aided by our Envoys (a crew of talented volunteers who ran demos and oversaw tournaments and proved to be just about essential (I always wanted my own set of minions)). We were quartered one of the two main convention hotels - The Marriot Marquis. This I quickly named the "Hotel Azathoth" since it was constructed of stacked truncated ellispes with a curved triangular elevator shaft (with external pods) rising in the center of its tremendous atrium, this central shaft throwing off spans in seemingly random directions. Its vertigo-inducing, a Fritz-Lang version of StarFleet Headquarters. Perfect for the convention.
The other hotel, the Hyatt, had the advantage of having the best-functioning bar, and as a result became the center of people-watching. Dragon*Con is one of those conventions where wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt does not make you stand out - if fact, it leaves you a little mundane. There is a lot of dress-up at this con. We had a lot of pirates (Johnny Depp has a lot to answer for - marrying the themes of pirates and eye shadow together), Ren-Faire, Media costumes (A trio of Batmans, a brace of Matrix Monsigneurs, Stormtroopers aplenty (including an Elvis Trooper and Groovy Tie-die Trooper), teams of Ghostbusters and Stargaters, magic staffs and live steel, all manner of fetishes (leather, latex, dom wannabes, schoolgirls, and did I mention the corsets?) enough body-piercings to put the Atlanta TSA agents on full alert at the metal detectors, and painted nudity. The crowd was strongly female and relaatively uninhibited.
If anything, this year was LESS salacious than the last DRAGON*CON I was at, nearly a decade ago. They moved most of the pornographic material out of the dealer area and put it into the hallway costumes, where it belongs. That is to say, that it is much more in the hands of the fans as opposed to the various dealers and companies, which is a little easier to handle.
So we had a good time. Long, long days (dealer's room open until 7 PM) and longer evenings (at least I could use my advanced age to excuse myself early in the evening - like 1 AM). Our games are hot sellers, and we are liked by the fans, and the few stabs at public speaking I made went off without a hitch. Throat hurts, feet hurt, head hurts (but that's more from flying Delta than anything induced at the con), but in general it was a successful convention.
More later on that, including our invention of Dragon*Con Costume Bingo.