You’d think that with how long I’ve been on the southeastern con scene—six whole years!—that I’d have already been to Dragon Con at least once. I hadn’t. It had always intimidated me with its notoriety and it’s sheer size. Now, I’ve been to Anime Weekend Atlanta before, with it’s decent attendance crowd of seventeen thousand, which isn’t too shabby. Easily the largest convention I’d ever been to though, was RTX, and it had roughly forty-five thousand attendees the year that I attended.
Dragon Con had seventy-five thousand. SEVENTY. FIVE. That’s like, two whole RTXs. Roughly. Almost. That’s pretty damn big.
That was my main reason behind not going for so many years. Past me was like, ‘Can’t do it, man. That many people shoved into two buildings? I would DIE.’ (This was before I learned there are five host hotels). Buuuut ultimately I got my act together and said fuck it, everyone else wants to go, I can put up with a few thousand people for four days.
And boy was that one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In my ideal world, we would have been able to check in to out hotel on Thursday and join in on the pre-con shenanigans. Unfortunately, I’m in college, as was the majority of my room. Which means that, of course, all of us had class on Friday. Me being who I am, I would have gladly skipped those classes to drive up to Atlanta prematurely, but we were carpooling, and I was not in charge of that decision. So we set out for Dragon Con on Friday afternoon. I loooove road trips with friends, especially when the end destination is a convention, so the ride from campus to our hotel was a breeze. Packing up Lauren’s car was an adventure, though.
I go to college in the dead-ass center of Alabama, which, coupled with the Walmart detour, plus rush hour traffic, plus the time zone change, meant that we didn’t check into our hotel until around nine o’clock that evening. We all took a breather, unpacked, decided on a transportation plan, then set out to grab our badges and get to know the area before the real fun began the following day.
It took us a hot second to find the badge pickup area, but the wait time once we did was barely fifteen minutes. Not too shabby for such a large venue!
I split off from my squad at this point to seek out Emma and John, who had been excitedly and impatiently texting me ever since I told them we’d crossed into Georgia. Made my way from the Sheraton to the Marriott where my two Hawkes awaited, crossed the sky bridge into the Marriott lobby and immediately got hit on by a guy who wouldn’t leave me alone even after I told him I was a minor (a lie) and that I had a girlfriend (also a lie). He didn’t even know who was on my t-shirt. It was Morrigan, for the record. Anyway! I located my Hawkes, and I hung out with them until they were too sleepy to continue conning, so I walked them to their exit, then left to go try and find my crew again. Or rather, I would have if my phone hadn’t already died by that point. So I wandered around for an hour hoping to run into them by fate (which didn’t happen), so I finally caved and asked a very lovely Wonder Woman if I could borrow her phone charger.
I was able to call Lauren (because Eli’s phone had also died), and we decided to meet back up at the Sheraton. The Wonder Woman and her Poison Ivy were also headed to the Sheraton, so they offered to walk me back. They were really pretty. I just feel like that’s worth mentioning again. But yeah. I reunited with everyone, we said our goodbyes, and made our way to the MARTA station. Our trip back to home base was mostly uneventful, other than the Turner Networks Building attacking us with its lawn sprinklers, but we sure taught them a lesson! (Read: Kyle and I got soaked, it was pretty fun.)
Thus ended our first day at Dragon Con.
I was so exhausted from all the walking, but I felt so, so happy. My last con was 221B Con back in April, and I’d been dormant for long enough that I’d forgotten how intoxicating it is to be at a con. I’m a pretty big people-person to begin with, but golly-gee do conventions sate so many of my socialization kinks. At a convention’s core, s just a bunch of nerds shoved into a space because they love something, because they’re passionate about a thing and they want to share their love and interest with others. It’s such pure love and fun, and sure, there are some creeps and some assholes who seem to just want to ruin that experience for people, but most of the time we get to experience that joy unfiltered, because there’s really no one to judge us when we’re all there for the same reasons.
And I love that. So, so much.