Beth’s Dragon Con 2021 Recap Part 1

I’ve also decided to have this be a separate article because once I start talking about fun I don’t want to have to keep bringing up safety, or protocols, or anything else that distracts from talking about good times. That’s what we all really go to Dragon Con for after all, right? Maybe some of you go to the Science Track panels and learn things, but that’s your business. The only thinking I want to do is how to fit in all of the different stuff I want to try and see. Knowing that this was going to be a different and potentially more stressful year, I really limited the number of panels I was on so that I could manage those stress levels (to the extent possible). In 2019 I was on 6 panels, and a movie premier. That was a lot. This year we had a movie viewing, a game show, and I was on 2 panels. So much more manageable, and considering that one of the two panels I was on was my first time hosting/moderating I figured I’d need more time to prepare. I did, and things still got away from me a bit. We’ll get to more on that later. A third panel for a live Episode Chapter 66 was supposed to be in there too, but Chad made the wise choice for the safety of his young children, and decided to stay home. This was before Dragon Con announced the vaccination/negative test mandate, but still better to be safe. He definitely made the right call in advance though because the night before he would have headed down what was left of one of those hurricanes (there have been too many to keep track of the last few months) tore through his town, and left his house and yard wrecked. Better to cancel early than cancel at the last second due to disaster. But hooray for Noel since that left the American Sci-Fi Classics track the ability to replace us with a Transformers panel that he was super happy to be on. That also took out some stress for Chad and I since our panel would have been at 11:30am Friday morning. We would have both been sitting around wondering what we were going to do if party animal Schweck couldn’t get himself out of bed and coherent that early. Party Schweck is the best form of Schweck for having fun with at Dragon Con, but maybe not the best version for speaking knowledgeably about Star Wars.

So let’s get some things out of the way before we move on to super nerd party time. Everyone had a bad year last year. Some much worse than others, but I’m not going to turn it into a competition by listing out the many ways mine was awful. Let’s just say that after the last 18 months of sucking we all needed this Dragon Con. Was I worried about safety and crowds? Yeah, but I think we all were nervous going in. Would people follow the mask rules? Would we be able to once we had a few drinks at night? The vaccination/negative test requirement made me feel a lot more safe. Even with the attendance cap and no Saturday only sales this was the most people I’d been around in two years. Arriving downtown Thursday afternoon I was torn between excitement over being back, and wanting to scream “Help – I need an adult!” for at least the first hour. Once I met up with some friends and starting getting back into things my muscle memory sort of kicked in. Masks weren’t as big of a pain in the butt as I was worried about; either for me, or most of the people I saw over the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t too tough to lift for a drink (or food) and put back in place quickly. Honestly, I think if we were all this careful every year we could wipe out “con crud” in our lifetime. I’m not saying I want to wear masks all weekend again if we don’t have to, but if there were hand sanitizer stands every few hundred feet from now on that might not be a bad thing. I never saw anyone take their masks off for too long, or get told off by security for behaving in a reckless way. I’m sure they were out there, but not so plentiful that I saw them. I’m sure I would get boo-ed out of town by most people, but I don’t think we need over 85,000 attendees again. The same people who would boo me probably also don’t want to hear how I feel about not selling Saturday day-passes going forward either. I’ll just let it go by saying that it was the most comfortable sized crowd I’ve seen in many years.

Now did I see everything I thought I would or wanted to? That’s the one thing about this con that wasn’t different. Not only was overall attendance capped, but room capacity was capped as well. And the very popular “closed for cleaning” panel that happened several times a day in each room meant that there wasn’t as much happening at one time as there might normally be. So when there was something good going on there were more people trying to get in at the same time than there might normally be. I’ve never seen a line wrapped around the building to get into the Zombie Prom at 1am before, that’s for damn sure. There were also quite a few celebrity cancelations, and while that was disappointing, it was certainly understandable. That also may have contributed not only to there being fewer panels i really wanted to see, but also longer lines at the things that were happening. That is not a criticism of any kind. Things were they way they had to be, and it’s not like I would have been able to watch 30 panels anyway. What I did get to do was great, and I finally got to do something I’ve never had time to do before. I went to the con suite! That’s probably not a big deal for everyone else (my friends were horrified that I’d never been), but there’s usually to much action going on for my to make that weird side trip. Now I can say I’ve been, and know that if I ever run out of food/money I could survive with their help. I had a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter in our hotel room so there wasn’t any danger of that, but it’s good to know where your resources are.

Anyway, on with the show…

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