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Calling All Con-Goers

By Jessica Bowman; For The Clock
On November 26, 2017

Calling All Con-Goers 

Jessica Bowman

For the Clock

jlbowman@plymouth.edu 

Cosplay is an undermined pass time. It is basically Halloween but all year round with less candy.

For years people have heard about conventions that cover books, TV shows, YouTube personalities and even anime.

When attending these conventions it is such a different atmosphere than the outside world. People are always smiling, and the “socially awkward” or even disabled kids become the most popular people. Many strangers you have never met before will see a costume you wear, whether you made it by hand or bought it, and compliment you while asking for a picture. Strangers become friends and some of these friends last lifetimes.

The biggest difference is the questions and confused looks people get when they tell someone that they enjoy cosplay. The most confusion that comes with cosplay is that people who have never been before have no idea what a convention is. A common misconception is when people say, “Oh that’s the Comic Con stuff like in New York, right?” But honestly Comic Con, the big one that everyone knows about, takes place both in New York and San Francisco and is much too expensive for poor college students to ever consider going.

Although these big name conventions like Comic Con, Magsfest, Pax East, and RTX are more expensive and more elaborate they are not the only ones put on. There are much smaller scale ones that are themed about any subject you could be interested in all over the U.S. 

The ones that are a little closer to home and are more affordable are Anime Boston (AB), in Boston, Massachusetts and Another Anime Convention (AAC) in Manchester, New Hampshire. AAC is considerably smaller and harbors a more rural kind of audience that talk about AB as the Big Wig Convention of the Northeast.

Personally, I got to attend one of my own last year, my designated cosplay buddy, who had been going to AB for the past six years, informed it was a sight to see. On Easter, the time around when AB is usually held, Melissa and I stayed up late to prepare our costumes for the next day. We rented a hotel room and with the help of eight other con goers we managed to drag the cost of the room down to $100 or so per person. An AB pass costs around $40 and $60 for the VIP. Some people may say ‘Oh ok, so $140-160 is not so bad.” But do not rule out food, parking, gas, souvenirs and of course the vendors.

Every convention has what is known as the Dealer’s Room, a large empty space that is rented out by vendors to sell overpriced knickknacks, stickers, figurines, plushies, and posters of any geeky TV show or anime you can think of. I easily spent about $400 on my last trip to AB. Was it worth it? My impulsive saver attitude says no. But the overly excited fan girl in me, says yes.

Melissa, my cosplay buddy I mentioned before, sews all of her own cosplays. No one taught her how to or make clothes, she used references of her favorite characters jacket and hand sewed her first ever cosplay when she was just barely out of high school. “I’d always wanted to go to a convention.” Melissa told me, “Then

I saw some cosplays of Natsu [a character from the anime Fairy Tail] and I thought how hard can it be. So I bought a sewing kit, the materials and made it by hand.”

Many other people make such elaborate costumes that they would take your breath away if you saw them. Cosplayers have been known to dress up as their own creations, they create a character and dress like them then go and have the time of their life. Some are incredibly inventive, others are homespun and qualify for the term “made with love.”

Even though conventions are very welcoming and have a fun atmosphere there are some set backs. Being in a new place, surrounded by a mob of strangers should not be taken lightly. Items can easily get stolen or lost, and people can easily be cornered. Please use a heightened sense of awareness in any situation like that to keep yourself and the people around you safe. But that goes for every public outing, like concerts or sporting events, just because of the minor risk factor, that does not keep people from going. Just like how it should not keep you from attending a convention.

There are a few things every cosplay goer should know, make the trip less expensive and stay safe while in new and potentially dangerous areas. A cosplay goer should know how to manage a hotel room or wherever they happen to be staying during their time at a convention. Naturally, it is better if you do not have to rent a hotel room at all. If there is anyone you know, that you are comfortable with and trust, who lives near or close to a convention, consider staying with them.

If that is not the case for you, than consider renting a hotel room but make sure to include more than the limited four people. Having more people to a room like this however, means that the total can be divvied up and the cost is a lot less for one person. Have all participants PayPal the money to you or have it in cash by the time you all arrive at the hotel. Having more people to a room also means more willing parties to buy food or split the price for gas or parking. It is always a good idea to carpool because it saves gas, saves on exhaust fumes and can save time.

When walking through the Dealer’s Room always scope out every vendor at least once before buying anything. You might find a vendor across the room is selling the same souvenir for a lower price. No matter what, eating out or eating food provided by the convention area will be overly expensive. It is better to find the nearest Walmart, Costco or BJ’s and bring home your own food.

But the most important tip, is your safety. It is very easy to get lost in the sights, the people and your friends. Always keep a sharp eye out for the things you carry with you, and the people in your party. Know where you are and if you are new to the area, carry maps with you. In emergency cases memorize phone numbers beforehand, that way even if you misplace or forget or lose your phone, you have a number to fall back on. All conventions have a lost and found and will provide security. It may be hard to find someone in a sea of cosplayers but it is a good idea to learn what the uniforms will be for the convention security. If you are missing someone, something or are in trouble they can help you.

As with anything convention goers should follow some guidelines to keep themselves safe and happy. Although for some it may seem intimidating or not for them I would urge anyone to go to a convention. It is not just an outlet for geeks and nerds alike to express themselves, anyone can have fun during one. As a rule of thumb, please stay respectful to other cosplayers. It is extremely easy to get over excited when you see a cosplay or celebrity you love. And for the love of all things good do not glomp people. Glomping includes running full speed with your arms out and nearly bowling over your target with a hug.

Many costumes are delicate and you have no idea how long a cosplayer may have spent just making their costume. Not to mention someone may have a weak back or legs or some other disability that could end up working against them if they are tackled. Also, do not forget personal space. It seems like common sense but when a convention arena is packed with people, shoulder to shoulder, milling about like herded cattle it is easy to forget these simple things.

Overall, the people you meet may change your life, and the fun you have could be immeasurable to anything else. A convention by its basic definition is a place where anyone can attend and enjoy anything they like without the societal fear of being belittled for it. Most conventions also run Fridays to Sundays, some of the bigger ones will start on Thursdays and go until Sunday. So even the casual 9-5 worker can find time for a cosplay convention.

Anyone can enjoy a convention, bring your mother, bring your father, your sibling or a friend. A convention experience should be a common notion for more people than it actually is. Do not underestimate the quality experience of a weekend well enjoyed. 

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