Tips for going to a convention
Whether it’s a tattoo, comics or classic sci-fi convention, the rules are always the same: save money on food/hotels so you can spend it on the things that really matter, dress up if you dare and aim to get as much out of the Con as possible. Wendy narrows it down…
1. Do your research.
I go to conventions at least a few times a year, and I’m always surprised to see how many people show up at the last minute and have to stand in a five hour line just to get in. Every time, I’ve breezed past them with my advance pass and a smarmy look; whether it’s a tattoo or classic sci-fi convention, it’s going to have a website with ticket info, an updated schedule, a list of guests and dealers, and hotels in the area
2. Don’t stay at the recommended hotel.
Most of my fun has been spent in a cheap hotel room with ten of my best friends stuffed in the beds, on the floor, and sometimes even in the bathroom. The convention-endorsed hotel will be more expensive, although they’ll be more likely to put up with shenanigans.
3. Dress up.
I’ve never been quite mooky enough for this. Girls that dress up become instant celebrities. Everyone loves a sexy storm trooper or a girl in head-to-toe black vinyl.
4. Bring food. Lots of food.
I always dedicate an entire bag to food to get me through the day. Convention food is overpriced, and you won’t have to suffer through a $15 gyro or taco dripping with day-old grease.
5. Decide how high you’re willing to go above your budget.
Conventions put thousands of dollars worth of merchandise you can usually only find on the internet all in one room. Since many of the booths are run by the artists themselves, it’s a lot better than buying mass-produced crap in a mall.
6. Talk to the artists.
They want you to buy their comics/ floggings/ paintings/ books/ whatever crazy thing they think will entice you. They also have amazing stories to tell about the lecherous pirate down the row. Can’t find the perfect corset? The lady selling leather goods is probably willing to take a custom order. Some of these people travel from con to con to make money. They’re the carnies of the geek world.
7. Be flexible.
I’ve seen bands cancel and workshops on special effects makeup turn people away at the door due to overcrowding. Bigger conventions usually have 24 hour schedules. I’ve stumbled into panels on writing at 9:30 in the morning and danced until 4 a.m. at an anime rave. If you’re bored, you’re not trying hard enough.
8. Set up rendezvous points.
With thousands of people to contend with, you don’t want to deal with a dead cell battery or a missed ride to your hotel. I always set up times with friends to touch base.
9. Keep your eyes open for after parties.
I’ve gone to seedy restaurants at 5 a.m. for pancake breakfasts where women with electrical tape over their chests and 10 inch stilettos sat next to men who’d been hanging with hooks through their backs a few hours earlier. Enough said.
10. Broaden your horizons.
Where else are you going to go where you can learn how to make realistic looking fake scars or get insider tips on getting your fantasy manuscript published? I love going to all sorts of workshops; I once spent at least 12 hours throughout an anime convention listening to costume makers explain how to make pretty dresses.