A Virgin Look at Dragon*Con


As I watched the endless streams of brightly- (and darkly-) colored costumes swirl through the lobby of the Hyatt, I was reminded of a very different, but strangely similar, spectacle many years ago: hordes of lanky, sweaty, dusty festival-goers as they trudged from camping places to blankets in front of the stage. These modern festival-goers put their forebears to shame where finery and grand displays are concerned: I have never seen such an array of blindingly bizarre presentations.

Aside from the sheer joy of such colorful chaos, the chief effect of the spectacle has been to confuse me as to the size and complexity of the con site: THREE major hotels in an urban center, each swarming with characters and costumes—every one of which would be the undisputed center of attention in any other setting.

Much of today (and yesterday) was taken up with learning my way around and finding the shortest routes between hotels. To my surprise, I actually saw a few people I’d met before; even more surprising, my train ride into town was enlivened by a gaggle of Dragon*Con-goers, discussing their plans for the weekend.


The three hotels that make up the consite are distinctly divided:
The Hyatt is the hub, and all (or most) of the administrative and staff functions are headquartered here: Security, Technical Operations (Tech Ops), Signage, and The Daily Dragon among others. Additionally, much of the main programming goes on here.

The Marriott, on the other hand, is mostly dedicated to fannishness of various sorts. Here, there are tables for every club and activity and fan group. There are the dealer rooms, artists on display, a horde of photogenic babes and brutes posing for pictures, and a horde of hotel employees directing the photo horde to keep moving. The Hilton is filled with gamers in costumes and huddled over their dice and miniatures.

Where Friday was all wild confusion, Saturday was simply insane. The number of costumed attendees has more than tripled, it seems. When I saw the registration line, it stretched out of the hotel, up the street, around the corner, across the length of the block in front of the hotel, and down the street on the opposite side. At one point on Sunday, the traffic was so heavy between the Hyatt and Marriott that attendees leaving the Marriott could only enter the Hyatt by walking all the way around the hotel to the front entrance.

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