I attended my first science fiction convention in 1982, it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma – and it should come as no surprise that there weren’t many goths in attendance. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the crossover between geek culture and goth culture is huge. Many of us have been attending cons both recreationally and professionally for decades. I have spent more than my share of time trudging through crowded hallways, waiting in line my three-second celebrity meet and greet, or minding a booth in the dealers’ room. Now that I am not quite as energetic as I used to be I’ve come up with some sure-fire ways to make convention attendance more comfortable and manageable.
Get a room:
Unless the convention is being held within 10 miles of your home rent a hotel room. Having a room is essential for the more mature convention goer. There will come a time, especially at larger conventions, when you are going to need a place to collect your thoughts – and possibly talk yourself out of murdering that jackass in who is using the Iron Man costume as an excuse to act like a womanizing asshole. Your hotel room isn’t just a place to sleep, it is your personal escape pod. Make plans to leave the convention floor for an hour or so each day – go to your room, and decompress. It makes a world of difference. This is especially helpful if you use a mobility scooter or wheelchair.
Make a plan:
Planning your day at the convention is really important when you get older, and don't have the stamina to stay on your feet for a solid ten to twelve hours. In order to manage my time, my anxiety, and my fear of missing something cool, I always take the time to read though the convention guidebook before I do anything.
Many conventions are making their schedules available on-line before the convention starts, take advantage of this. Decide what panels you want to attend and schedule your time accordingly. Be sure to include some downtime in your room, and a lunch break.
Grabbing a candy bar and eating it on your way to the next panel is not a lunch break, no matter how much you want it to be. A lunch break means sitting down for at least 15 minutes, and consuming some kind of food that is at least marginally healthy.
Wear Comfortable Shoes:
Let the teens and twenty year olds wear the skyscraper heels, those of us who are a little more mature can get away with something more sensible. I’ve recently begun modifying flat shoes by adding painted or sculptural details, so there is no reason that sensible shoes have to be boring.
Essential Supplies for the Convention Floor.
An essential part of convention attendance is having the right supplies when you go onto the convention floor. Whether you are enjoying the con as a pro or an attendee you should always have a bottle of water (refill it throughout the day), any medication you might need, emergency snacks, and whatever personal items you like to carry. I always do some stretches and take an Aleve before I leave for the convention.
Advice for merchants and booth monkeys:
When you are working in a booth, prepare a special box in advance. I have a tackle box that contains water, snacks, pens, sharpies, a notebook, a calculator, duct tape, safety pins, aspirin, business cards and a chocolate bar. With this box you can pretty much handle any booth emergency.
If you are going to be standing behind your table all day, invest in floor padding. You can use a roll up yoga mat, or those EVA foam puzzle pieces. Either way your feet and back will thank you at the end of the week-end
Most importantly, don't forget to have fun.