zfreelance: (Dancing Bitches)
AT LAST!

So, last year I utterly failed to write up my Dragon*Con experience due to apathy and… yeah. BUT! A new year brings changes and I have vowed to write this bitch up!

So, here goes.

I rode up to Atlanta in the company of two of my friends, Zece and Chad, and Zece’s mother. We avoided the dreaded rush hour traffic and checked in to the hotel, after a minor argument with the credit card company (apparently they don’t like it when you make two different purchases in two different states, in the same day). Then we headed out to get our con badges. I had not suited up, simply because I was tired and lazy. After that, we meandered into the Peachtree Mall to people-watch. The costumes were not out in mass on Friday, but there were still plenty of cool costumes to look at.

After we ate, we found a panel talking about Halloween that I wanted to attend. We trekked back to the hotel and changed into our (partial) costumes, just for the hell of it, and set off to attend.

And, oh damn.

Last year, my costume was nothing special. I was Tank Girl, with bleach blonde hair and the signature shirt. It looked good, but the character was neither recognizable nor iconic, so I was largely incognito. Some people took my picture, but nothing crazy.

This year, I challenged myself, costume-wise, to go as Jack from Mass Effect 2. I bought a skin-colored bodysuit and drew the torso tattoos on it, stitched details onto red pants, and even shaved my head (for more reasons than just the costume, but it didn’t hurt!). I chose the costume because drawing the designs on the suit capitalized on my art skill, which I possess in SPADES when compared my sewing skills. But I also wanted to try my hand at a recognizable, yet under-represented character. I have a wide variety of fantasy and sci-fi favorites, but when I stumbled upon Jia Jem’s infamous Jack cosplay, I knew that I wanted to try.

And apparently, it paid off. My friends laughingly referred to me as a walking hazard- every few steps, someone would stop me for a picture.

It was amazing and incredibly flattering. I can only be considered an amateur in everything con-related, but I posed for dozens of pictures that night. I felt bad that I was only in partial costume, and even worse that I didn’t have any sort of fancy prop or theatrical pose that would do credit to their picture. But it was amazing to talk to people who played the game and loved it as much as I did.

That’s probably the coolest thing about this convention: You are surrounded by your people. We’re all geeks, dweebs, and fangirls and boys, and for one weekend, we can let our freak flags fly in style. We can meet the people that make it all come to life, and we can see others do amazing things with the inspiration the genre provides.

I met others who were going to dress as Mass Effect characters, later in the weekend, who complimented me. I even met another Jack!

So, basically it was all liberating and gratifying and AWESOME.

AND THAT WAS JUST THE FIRST DAY.

The next day, we all got up early so we could go all out, costume-wise. Then we trooped down to the street to watch the Dragon*Con parade. It was so cool to see so many cool costumes on parade. There were Time Lords, galore, marching with Storm Troopers and elves and the occasional Deadpool. And there was a Dragon Age group, complete with an Anders that I just wanted to HUG. My friend, Rie, dressed as Bethany from Dragon Age II, so we were both delighted to see other Bioware fans.

We had plans to attend panels that day but, sadly, Atlanta conspired against us. It was extremely hot, and nearly everyone in my group was dressed in heavy costumes (Rie and I, especially), so between that and fighting the massive Saturday crowds, we tired quickly and had to take frequent breaks. So, basically we didn’t make the panels, but we sure as hell had fun people-watching and taking pictures.

I saw tons of inventive and intricate costumes that made me drool with envy, and some that made me outright grin. There was the cutest little girl with braces who dressed up as Merrill from Dragon Age II who I just had to hug. I saw a Garrus, the other Jack, a Samara, Liara, and a Tali, as well as a Kasumi in her loyalty outfit (!!!). There was also a Flemeth who was AMAZINGLY HOT. I was so excited!!! (yeah, this is probably just going to be a big fangirl post here…)

And the photos of me continued… I was thrilled to realize that people thought that the bodysuit was my actual skin. I got floods of compliments (a lot of them on my haircut) and had tons of awesome conversations about the games and speculating about the upcoming third installment. However, I did discover a downside!

A guy asked me if I had photos on the internet of me posing as Jack in an industrial area (I don’t- that was all the work of the fabulous Jia Jem) and someone actually called me “Jia”, and pointed me in the direction of one of the other Jacks. I had a minor panic attack, thinking that Jia Jem had actually come to Dragon*Con. My costume has proven to be pretty successful, but Jia Jem is a beautiful woman with amazing talent and has blown the world away with her Jack costume, and I was not about to stand next to the woman who was kind of my cosplay idol and wear my cheap imitation of her masterpiece. However, if she was there, I did not see her, and I can only be relieved. Give me another decade before I come anywhere near her level.

But my favorite moment had to be the plague doctor who spotted me from below, when I was standing on a balcony, people-watching. His mask had deep-set eyes, so it was pretty much impossible to tell what he was looking at, but I could have sworn that we made eye-contact. Then he vanished and the incident slipped my mind, until he tapped me on the shoulder, removed his hat, and held up his cellphone to show me the typed message, “You’re my favorite.” It was clear that he didn’t speak while in costume, and he communicated with a nod when I asked for a picture. And then he left. It was creepy and sweet all at the same time.

Sunday dawned bright and hot, and I missed most of that nonsense because my ass was asleep until 11AM. Conventions are a lot of work, okay?

Later, I suited up and actually attended some panels, dammit! The first panel I made it to was a part of the Apocalypse track, talking about Urban Disaster Survival. Unfortunately, the panel itself was not what I imagined. I forgot that there were a bajillion people who had come from all over to participate in this con, and therefore not everyone had lived through the 2005 hurricane season in the Florida panhandle, as well as the seasons that followed (including the tropical storm that is dumping rain all over the southeast as we speak), like I had. I thought that the information was sound and needed to be presented, but if I haven’t figured out how to evacuate and stockpile water bottles by now, I’m doing something wrong.

I also attended some dark fantasy track panels which were interesting, and introduced me to some new authors that I will read the moment I am rich and can afford books. But for the most part, I did a lot of wandering and chatting and picture-taking.

There is just this aura of camaraderie at this con that I have always loved. Anything goes, and we are all here to have fun and, most importantly, be ourselves. Everywhere else, we’re freaks, losers, and rejects. But here, we are amongst our people and can revel in it. The whole atmosphere is just so relaxed and exuberant, all at once. We’d chat with complete strangers, ask about costumes and techniques, and occasionally rub freshly buzzed heads because they are just so darn fun to touch. (True story.) Zece called it honor amongst thieves, and I can’t help but agree. We were all there to celebrate our love of the genres, and that was the only bond we needed.

My con experience ended with my traditional purchase of snarky bumper stickers, and then it was homeward bound with another fantastic con under my belt and my mind buzzing with ideas for next year.

For there WILL be a next year. Oh, yes…

I will probably link my 200+ pics, right after I get around to uploading them. O_O


UPDATE: Pfffft, so apparently I'm in a web article about gaming cosplay. XD

WHO KNEW?
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