So, as program notes may show
, I went to 4th Street Fantasy convention over the weekend. It was my first con ever, and it took a big effort to sign up and attend, so I thought I would write-up some of the experience (inspired in part by Fran Wilde’s tweets that weekend about #NoFear).
Let me start out with saying that everyone I met and interacted with at 4th Street was super nice, friendly, and helpful. That went a long way towards making it very welcoming and accessible as a newbie con-goer. I also liked the set-up of having a one track panel, so you didn’t have to make decisions on which panels to attend while missing others. The con was well organized, the Con Suite had food & drinks (I did not know this happened!), the volunteers were all lovely, and the general atmosphere was friendly and non-threatening.
There’s a couple things about me, specifically, that need to be put up so there’s some context:
- I don’t do well in crowds.
- Live performances*, especially unscripted ones, stress me out because I get caught in an anxious loop of thinking ‘someone is going to fail/mess up/be awkward’ and it freaks me out. (I don’t go to a lot of stage performances or concerts. It’s really hard to make myself attend in that kind of environment, even when it’s a professional set-up.)
- Social anxiety is a thing, so socializing with lots of new people is absolutely exhausting and hard.
- I also just finished finals at school literally the day before the con, so I had zero brain or spoons going in.
- Oh yeah, and also ALLERGIES. Rah. (not)
Okay, so with that said, overall I thought the con was a very…interesting performance, and I did enjoy parts of it.
- I met a bunch of really cool people. :D *waves at awesome people!*
- I found out when you get really good panelists interacting with each other, it can be hilarious and entertaining.
- There were interesting topics (mostly) during the panels, so while taking notes I had some stuff to think about.
- Also there was food! (Once I got the fact that the Con Suite = craft services, it made much more sense and also was super nice to have snacks and drinks available.) So I did not, in fact, crash from not eating, which was good (usually I forget, and have to have someone remind me when I’m in new or stressful scenarios).
- Also there were breaks between panels and long meal periods, and also the hotel we were in was lovely and spacious and best of all, I knew how to get there. (Yay! Since I drove, it meant one less layer of stress.)
- Oh! And there was this awesome feature at the con where they had an ambassador for each meal period, so that people who either didn’t know the area, didn’t know anyone there, or just wanted people to have food with could all meet up and go to one of the nearby restaurants. It was really great.
Overall, I cannot in all honesty say I liked the con experience. I don’t think it’s my sort of thing. The crowds, the unscripted nature of panels** stressing me out, socialization for three days, and sensory overload***. If I did do it again, I would want to get a room at the hotel so I had a private & quiet spot to retreat to when needed. Also remember my headphones.
By the third day, I knew some people there so that was cool. Like I said, everyone I interacted with was very nice and welcoming. I thought, objectively, the con was great and successful. It’s just not my thing. But I’m glad I went and tried it out. It was an experience, and as I said, I met a bunch of cool people and also met some LJ friends in-person, and that was great. :)
(And now it is official Summer Break and I am catching up on sleep! And comics! And TV shows! Whoo!)
So yeah, that was by 4th Street Fantasy experience. A big thank you to all the con organizers, panelists, and people who made it work!
*I tried to explain this to my sister yesterday, and she was somewhat confused. I’m like, “Well, it’s stressful!” And she was like, “But you love movies? You go to movie theaters all the time.” And I’m like, “Well YES, because it’s scripted and planned and the theater is dark and usually there is no interacting with people and also I know the protocols for going to a movie.” [Addendum to this: presentations/speeches, when done professionally, do not bother me. So lectures are cool. I think because it is usually one person, with pre-planned material, and in a specific type of setting that makes it tolerable.]
**I cannot watch debate of any sort. Any sign of argument, I’m done. Debate stresses me out to the point of non-functional, so I avoid it like hell. [But as I tried unsuccessfully to explain to my sister, scripted
argument is fine. I can watch film and TV in which people argue with great enjoyment, because there are entirely different parameters involved in narrative vs. real life.]
***it’s noisy, part of the difficulty I have with crowds. I also forgot my headphones, and earbuds aren’t sufficient. The con did have a ‘retreat room’ set aside for people who needed somewhere quiet—which I thought was very nice—but it was not a private
spot, and so I didn’t use it, and because I didn’t have a room at the hotel (I only live half an hour away so drove back and forth each day) I didn’t have anywhere to go be entirely alone and quiet to recover. I ended up going outside during breaks I wasn’t having meals with people, but it wasn’t the best solution (we did have gorgeous weather, however) because again, there were people present. So. Having to wait until I got home to unwind was difficult.