I am by no means an expert in terms of Pop Culture Conventions; I’m a relative newbie to the Con scene, having gone to my first Con in 2013. But I was brought into the community under the very experienced wing of my Best friend who is more of a veteran. Over the last few years, I’ve very quickly learned the dos and don’ts of Cons, and I’m keen to share my knowledge for those who are looking to get into cons or are still relatively fresh on the scene.
These tips aren’t biblical, but they will sure as heck make sure you have a smooth weekend.
- Be Organised; at the beginning of the year, plan which Cons you intend to go to. Start visualising where they are in the year, how you will get there and how many cosplays you intend to do for the year.
- Book your hotel strategically; not all conventions are in the easiest to access places- some are not near hotels or major highways, and frequently you need to stay at hotels to attend. However, you do not have to be suckered in to the absolutely ridiculously high prices of those immediately surrounding hotels (who jack up prices because they know a convention is planned). I am extremely strategic when booking my hotels. I always book a hotel that sits on/extremely close to a major public transport line. And I usually try and book a hotel that’s several stops away from the convention location. The earlier you book this hotel, the better price your will get. You can always use an agent like booking.com to take advantage of their cancellation deals, so if you need to cancel, you can. Try and get a hotel with bag holding services (see why later) and tea/coffee/mini fridge.
- Start your cosplays early; there’s nothing worse than staying up late the night before, punching rivets into a piece of fabric, let me tell you.
- Before planning cosplay, make sure you check weapons/props rules of the event company. There is no point spending all this time on a beautiful big prop to have it confiscated when you get there because it exceeds regulations. The prop rules might also affect who you decide to cosplay as.
- While checking weapon rules for the event, also check in on local legislation. I.e. at the end of 2016, NSW brought in very strict rules regarding ‘fake guns’, making a lot of cosplay props illegal.
- Have a ‘Floor Bag’; your floor bag should contain bare minimum- there is nothing worse than lugging around a huge bag around the convention. Go for something lightweight but big enough to hold what you need. Those super trendy, small, faux leather backpacks are perfect for cons. Also smaller shoulder satchels are a good idea. The bag should be able to hold comfortably a cosplay emergency kit (See next point), a water bottle, your wallet, phone/camera, tickets/coupons and a very lightweight cardigan/shawl.
- Cosplay Emergency Kit;- This has only been a recent discovery of mine, but has saved my ass on more than one occasion. In your floor bag, keep a cosplay emergency kit; sometimes, things happen… like your hasty rivets/string sleeve breaks and you are walking around with a dirty, great bit of fabric flapping around your elbow. Or your foam armour comes away from the suit/backing. Or your eyeliner smudges like the winter soldier under your eyes. This is where the cosplay emergency kit comes in. There are multiple guides on the internet of what to put in your cosplay emergency kit, and sometimes some items depend on the costume. But there are a few things that definitely should be in there. Here are the items in my cosplay emergency kit;
– Bandaids/plasters (multiple)
– Safety pins (lots)
– Bobby Pins (a small handful)
– Small role of double sided tape
– Panadol/pain killer
– Translucent powder (Small container and small brush for makeup emergencies)
– concealer (small tube in your shade)
Cosplaying-on-a-budget and this forum on a cosplay community have some good tips and guides to follow regarding this.
- Take Snacks; oh man believe me, this has saved me so many $$. Convention food is always ridiculously expensive and fair enough that you need to buy lunch, but if you can avoid buying snacks then you are already saving some dollars. Conventions require a lot of energy, and, if you can, I’d recommend going for some power foods; fruits (especially bananas) to give you an mid-morning energy boost and something like nuts (almonds and peanuts unsalted and raw) or muesli bars (check ingredients for hidden nasties) for any afternoon munchies. These items are small and can easily be slotted into your con bag.
- If you are staying in the hotel, get your bags (not your floor bag) held at your hotel;- most Australian cons don’t hold luggage and you don’t want to be that annoying person walking around with a big bag and bashing into everyone. Saves your back, and other’s patience. I have not found one hotel, big or small/boutique, that does not hold your bags (if you are a guest).
- When packing your bigger bags/overnight bag, make sure you bring normal clothes. I do not know about you, but after a big day at the con, I want nothing more to get changed and go for dinner. Dinner at a normal restaurant, not near the con, would be mightily awkward in cosplay.
- Try to bring, not buy breakfast (hence mini fridge and tea and coffee at hotel). This also saves some much needed dollars and also can save a lot of time of a morning. I usually get those super small cereal boxes and bring them with me to hotels. They will often have milk in the room for tea and coffee making (if the room has that function) so you can skimp there. This is where it pays to do your room research. Another good idea is to get a deal at your hotel for included/free breakfast. This is another lifesaver.
- Download the program before you get to the con, and highlight what panels you need to go to. Making a plan of attack for the day is essential. If there is a panel or signing that is early in the morning, you don’t want to miss it by rocking up late and not knowing it was on.
- Buy photoshoots/autograph tickets as early as you can; if you want your preferred choice of time, then this is essential. They also sell out really quickly, so if you can buy them online before the con, I would definitely recommend it.
- Take a portable recharger for on-the-go phone charging. I learnt this the hard way. If you are using your phone for social media checking in, photos and contact with friends, then your battery is going to die quicker than a background soldier in an action movie.
- If at the con with friends, always have a spot to meet in case you go separate ways; I can guarantee you they will not ever respond to your texts or calls. Try to pick an unusual spot out of the way of most other con goers; do not clog a walkway.
- Have your social media deets written down on paper, business cards or something creative (a cosplayer once gave me her youtube channel name on a wooden peg!) to give out to people as needed. Carry it in an easy to access place; you have more of a chance being tagged in photos of your cosplay that way.
- Always have some cash on you; not all vendors have Credit Card facilities (though this gets better every year)
- Always, Always, Always be polite to everyone you meet; they are here to have fun and enjoy themselves just as much as you. I do not care if they barged you out of the way/took your friends seat/wearing the same cosplay as you/looked at you weird; everyone, especially your fellow nerds, deserves respect. Yes, people do not always show you the same kindness/politeness, but you will not receive it if you do not give it.
- Respect other people’s work. This is mainly a Cosplay thing, but please always be respectful of someone else’s cosplay. I do not care if you personally don’t like it. I do not care how basic of a cosplay it is. I do not care how many other cosplayers are cosplaying the same character. People have put a lot of thought and effort into their cosplay. No matter how good it is, or how intricate/complex (or seemingly opposite). Every person cosplaying (even if it is just a slightly influenced one) is worthy and good. They deserve attention and praise just as much as others.
- If you see someone being harassed, or assaulted, please step in. I cannot stress this enough. Like it or not (whether you have seen it before or not), this is something that still happens at cons. We cannot beat this behaviour unless we, as the by-standing public, call it out and prove that this is not ok. Please step in and protect your fellows. Please report it to Con officials/volunteers. Do not be a bystander. Stick up for people.
- And finally, please, PLEASE BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR PERSONAL HYGIENE!!! Please make sure you have showered and used deodorant. I’ve seen (and especially smelt) some bad things at cons. Please do your fellows a favour. I do not care if you do not think you smell or do not think it is bad. People will be much more sensitive to your hygiene than you are. It is a pet peeve of mine, and I am so conscious about myself, I get cut when others do not return the favour. There has been so many times when I have been gridlocked into a panel/hall/line and had to suffer through hell because someone has awful body odour. Please- also- if you are sick, please sanitise/clean your hands regularly, and cover your mouth. Germs travel like wildfire during cons.
I hope these tips have been super helpful and you have a fantastic time at your next con. 🙂