I live in Atlanta, and around Labor Day that means one thing: DragonCon. Surprisingly, though I have lived in Atlanta since 2002 and went to art school here, I had never been to DragonCon until this year. If the art school comment needs explanation, there is no higher concentration of tabletop & video game/comic/renaissance faire nerds than came be found in art school, especially one that offers degrees in such subjects as game design. I am a nerd as well, but I’m a very specific nerd — I like design geekery, Disney, Middle Earth, and The Legend of Zelda. I’m not fond of Science Fiction or comics, or most non-Tolkienian Fantasy really, nor am I fond of crowds. For these reasons I’d always stayed away from DragonCon. But for whatever reason, 2014 became the year I was going to bite the bullet and go along with my husband. I think what eventually softened my stance was somehow befriending even more people who regularly attended the con, my husband attending one year as a Cosplaying friend’s “keeper” (the friend in question had constructed a costume that blocked about 70% of his vision and needed someone to act as a seeing eye dog/bodyguard), and indirectly being led to joining the Atlanta Tolkien Fans group back in 2013 while trying to score free preview passes for The Hobbit movie. On top of all of that, I began working in Downtown about a block away from the host hotels in 2011, and had spent a couple of years eating lunch around the Cosplayers as they trickled into Atlanta pre-Con, which piqued my curiosity as well as normalizing the experience somewhat. Being the type of person I am, I decided that I wasn’t just going to go to DragonCon; I was also going to Cosplay, and not alone! I eventually manged to rustle up a small group of people who were inspired by my idea to gender bend some Tolkien characters. Sadly, no pictures exist of our group in its entirety as our Gondorian Pippin and femme Merry only came on Friday for the costume competition at an Evening at Bree; and butch Galadriel and Eowyn and femme Legolas only came on Saturday which included the Tolkien Track disco party. My husband and I were present both days as butch Rosie Cotton and femme Gandalf.
Dressing up as Gandalf was a surprisingly not poor idea. Even though I was enrobed in several yards of cloth, I made the robe out of linen, so it was nice and breezy for the most part. It was almost like I wasn’t even wearing a sweater, a synthetic wig, and a monstrous felt hat in the boiling Georgia summer. I made that awesome staff with the glowing crystal and it was totally destroyed by the heat. It was so hot out, the hot glue holding the crystal together actually melted. Friday night was the Tolkien costume contest at an Evening at Bree, a little event where there is dancing and music, but precious little drinking. Our group entered in the humor category and we actually managed to win due to my lack of dignity. I had painted a pair of hot pants with “You shall not pass” on the front and a giant Balrog on the back to wear under my robe, and I believe sharing this with the judges clenched the victory.
Award winning undies #gandalf #balrog #dragoncon A photo posted by Alicia (@fuzzdecay) on
I just showed ori and nori my bum
— alicia (@fuzzdecay) August 30, 2014
we won the humor category of the evening in bree costume contest with half of our gender bent tolkien group! got a model smaug plane \m/ — alicia (@fuzzdecay) August 30, 2014
An Evening at Bree was a pretty fun event. I had a great time convening with my fellow Istari.
DragonCon is pretty diverse, and for most of the weekend the rest of the group split off to pursue their StarWars panels and get their comic books signed. I spent most of the time I was going to panels around the Tolkien track (and one Game of Thrones panel). The Tolkien track was weighted pretty heavily toward Cosplay and movie speculation, but there were some interesting lore-based discussions as well. One of the panels I went to had a live band playing drinking songs, which culminated in the waving of Sauron’s eye and many staves in appreciation.
Sideways video of the sauron eye and other staff waving during the music last night. #dragoncon #latergram A video posted by Alicia (@fuzzdecay) on
Speaking of music, during one of the TheOneRing.net speculation panels, this music video was unveiled:
The guy Cosplaying Thranduil in that video was at DragonCon, I had sat behind him in quite a few panels and greatly admired his work. However, I was terrified to approach him because he’s a good foot taller than I am and he never broke character which was purposefully off-putting.
There were also a few panel discussions with some stars from the movies.
I’m sure based upon how I just referred to this group of men, you can surmise my feelings about their respective films. Also, Billy Boyd apparently goes to every con. This particular panel was a lot of fun. You could tell that they all got along well, and they shared some awful and hilarious anecdotes about filming. The Middle Earth celebrities in attendance trickled in over the course of the weekend. Haldir and Azog arrived later than everyone in the first panel, and Billy Boyd left before the weekend was over. Regrettably, I missed the one panel over the weekend where everyone was in attendance. The last panel was everyone minus Billy Boyd, as seen in this terrible picture.
During the last panel they had everyone in costume come up to stand by the stage. I was no longer in my Gandalf costume, since I had worn it for 2 days, and was just in an generic RenFaire outfit. I went up anyway and got close enough to strike up a very short conversation with Ori.
And thus, a life goal I didn’t even know I had was fulfilled. I have been referred to in all seriousness as Gandalf.
A lot of time one spends at DragonCon is spent in the atriums of the host hotels, or fighting gigantic crowds through the walkways which connect all the hotels together. There are panels I wanted to see that I physically couldn’t get to through the mass of people. It wasn’t so bad, though. The atriums are nicely designed for the most part, and there was plenty of time to people watch and have pictures taken.
Gandalf and gimli #dragoncon A photo posted by Alicia (@fuzzdecay) on
Overall, I had a lot of fun at DragonCon. I came out of it weary from too much social interaction, as well as hot and tired, but I believe I will go back in the future.