06 April, 2011

Con Diary (Part 2)

four in the morning
at the end of Saturday, April 2 (2011)

Arrived home late. Much too tired to recount the day's events now. But that indicates that it was a fun, busy day. For now, I rest, and restore my energy, while the lingering image of hot girls prancing about in skimpy outfits dances through my head.

2pm - Sunday, April 3 (2011)

Saturday at the con started off with a few snags, though judging by what I wrote last night, you can probably guess that things worked out just fine in the end. The first snag {editor's note: actually, the first snag was one I neglected to mention in the following account, involving a chemical accident during preparation for a weekend of crossplay (let's just say I was promised a cooling sensation, and experienced a burning sensation instead) - but, since not a single person mentioned it, I can assume it wasn't a significant problem after all} was missing all but the last five minutes of the only other panel I had a strong interest in attending that I hadn't missed on Thursday evening - the EGL panel (separate from the fashion show on Friday) - on account of not getting to the con early enough. I'm not blaming anyone (including myself), it's just unfortunate that it worked out that way. With my newfound motivation to jump the hurdles of cost and complexity in dressing Lolita (for next year's con), I wanted to learn all the panel could teach me - but it's not like I can't get that information elsewhere. So, only a minor snag, really, particularly compared to the next one.

I don't know if it was the stress on my body of having to get up out of bed early (something I dearly despise having to do), the quality of the breakfast I ate (which was a little light and rushed), or actually my anxiety at finally coming to the point where I'd be wearing The Pink Dress in public; but I wasn't feeling very well when it came time to change (I opted to change at the con, because the outfit is very elaborate, and not well-suited to the unfortunately cold weather), and for a time felt that I did not have the strength to go through with it. This was exacerbated by the fact that the hotel refused to allow us usage of the unisex bathroom we had counted on (and which the DLLCC never barred us from using, ahem). My costume, as I said, was elaborate, and I needed the aid of my 'wardrobe assistant' to get it right. I couldn't very well change out in the hall (though I would have if it were socially acceptable), and I felt uneasy about getting partially dressed on my own, and then coming out into the crowd - before the outfit was complete - to make the final (extensive) adjustments in the hall. Though, that is ultimately what I ended up doing. It took a long time and a lot of work to get the costume together, but eventually we got it.

I was, understandably, very concerned about how my cosplay would be received, among the general congoers. Firstly, whether I looked good - and enough like Chii, the character I was cosplaying - and secondly, if people could tell that I was crossplaying, and what sort of reaction they would have if they did. On the first count, I had a lot of people complimenting me both on my dress, and my cosplay. I had more than one person tell me I was the best Chii they had seen - with different qualifiers, like "at this con". And even a few of the girls I later took pictures of complimented my dress. As for the second count, I think I fooled a lot more people than I was expecting to. And of the many who at first thought I was a girl, then upon closer inspection realized otherwise, their reaction was either very positive, or (at worst) neutral - which is not bad at all. There were, of course, some among those who took my picture that I didn't get any sense of whether or not they knew I was crossplaying, but still others who I was convinced knew (for one reason or another), and yet enthusiastically showed their support.

My best experience was with a woman on con staff. I had a short exchange with her when I went to sit down in a corner out of the way to get some rest. Judging from what followed, she must have thought I was a girl at that point. Shortly thereafter, my friends had found me and we were all sitting together talking, and the staffer was sitting just a few feet away. She must have heard me talking, because she got my attention and asked me to say something to her. The request confused me, until I realized what she was after. My voice must have given me away. Having confirmed, I presume, that I was really a guy, she then asked to shake my hand as a sign of respect. That pretty much made my day.

As I wrote previously, this year's con was all about the cosplay, and taking pictures. Anime congoers (and people who have been with me to anime cons in the past) may remark that I didn't do a lot of 'anime stuff'. I visited the Dealer's Room only once on Friday, and bought only a single t-shirt, on account of my budget being [over]spent on preparing my cosplay(s) {editor's note: which is to say, not for lack of interest in the Dealer's Room}. I didn't watch any anime, or even see any AMVs like I usually want to do - though I heard the viewing rooms were small and crowded - much like, I imagine, it was when the con was temporarily held in a hotel in Greentree before making the initial move to the DLLCC (which I'd like to see it return to). But, on the other hand, in lieu of 'anime stuff', I did the sort of thing I'd always yearned to do at a con in the past - that is, dress up in a decent costume, and take lots of pictures of all the hot and pretty girls dressed up in their costumes. And that also reflects my more recent and developing interests in fashion, modeling, and photography.

Regarding the photography, to continue where I left off on Firday, my momentum from that day had worn off come Saturday - especially after my trepidation at putting on The Pink Dress, in which I felt more self-conscious (perhaps ironically) than I had in my 'tentacle rape' cosplay, on account of it being a more recognizable cosplay {editor's note: thus tending to attract more attention and potential criticism}, and the minor fact that my 'panties' (actually a speedo to stay within the rules) were hanging all out under my super short skirt. Even in the end, I may not have been quite as proactive as on Friday, but in spite of my own prediction earlier in the day, I did eventually pick a lot of my momentum back up, even to the point of making one (if not more) awkward exchange, that I still feel embarrassed about (editor's note to himself: if a person is rushing off somewhere, leave them be; it will be harder to get their attention - and anyway, it's probably not in their immediate interest to stop and have their picture taken). And there was one cosplayer I had wanted (really badly) to get a picture of, but missed - twice! First, because my legs were too lazy to rush after her (and I wasn't quite 'warmed up' yet at that time), and second, because she slipped into the elevator before I had a chance to compose myself.

So, later in the evening, as the always highly-anticipated rave was drawing near, you saw a lot of the cosplay being replaced by [even] skimpy[er] 'rave wear', featuring lots of super short skirts, tight-fitting garments, rainbow colors, and shiny materials - stuff that reminds me a lot of what I saw much of at Burning Man, albeit with a lower absurdity quotient. I felt even more awkward asking girls in rave wear for their pictures because, with cosplay, you have the craftsmanship of the costume, the joy of fandom, and the expectation that wearing cosplay will attract photograph requests. With rave wear, although this is not to say that there isn't an interest in photographing such fashions - many of which are clearly designed not only to be practical for jumping around and sweating in, but also for catching the eye, particularly in dark rooms with lots of colorful flashing lights - but I can't help feeling that it's less "I love your outfit, can I take a picture?" and more "you're hot, can I take your picture?" Which, I suppose, is just my guilty conscience whispering into my ear. {editor's note: also, that's my excuse for missing the girl in the silver HOT pants}.

After the rave started, I decided to 'dress down' as well - or as much as was possible. So I switched to the 'skimpy' version of my dress, by taking off my sleeves and my dress train (which was basically the only thing covering my ass - heaven knows the skirt wasn't), and wearing my (already barely-there) sandals as little as I could get away with. I suppose the whole day of wearing that dress, and the late night atmosphere of the rave (and rave-goers wandering about) gave me confidence I hadn't had at the start of the day. Because then I went to do some modeling, for my own self-portraits - first, in a quiet corner, and then in a less quiet hallway. I got some good pictures, and it was a great experience in modeling in front of strangers/random people/a crowd. Not to say that it was a turning point, necessarily, but it was a good experience. And the pictures I got out of it reinforces that fact. (I only wish I wasn't having computer problems, because I'm anxious to share my pictures, and look at others').

Unless I'm forgetting something important, I suppose the last note I have to make is about the rave itself. I went into the rave, and I liked being there. Rest assured, I still haven't transformed into the outgoing type who likes to jump and bounce around in the flashing lights, but I do enjoy the atmosphere. On one level, it looks really cool, with all the lights, and the outfits, and mist and whatnot; and on another, people are having fun, it's a real party atmosphere (and I'll say, a whole lot better than jocks and frat boys drunk out of their minds), and it feels like the kind of place I've always felt left out of (even in spite of the fact that I don't really belong there). If you remember the concept of the 'Saturday Night Heist', which Janis Joplin articulated, and that I've written about before - it's like this: I'm not convinced that the heist is total. Though it's largely a wild goose chase, I believe that there are a few geese out there, and regardless, I'm engineered to chase them one way or another. With all the excitement of the rave on Saturday night, I can't help feeling like I'm missing out - on something - if I'm not there. Even if, ultimately, there's not much [for me] to do there.

But here's the core of the situation. It's the hot girls I'm drawn to (simple biology, right?), and when I see them all hanging out at the rave, having a good time, I want to be there, too. I want to be part of that good time. The pain comes from the fact that I know I'm not an outgoing person, and I don't take pleasure in the same kinds of things (jumping about and socializing and making lots of noise) they do, and that even were I accepted an invitation to this 'inside world' (which has happened on occasion), I would be awkward and not know how to conduct myself (which has been borne out on those occasions), thus confirming that my lack of participation (and, by extension, a lack of invitation) is appropriate after all. Yet I continue to chase, because the desire that drives me is stronger than all matters of reason and compromise and convenience...

Afterward: Even though my attention's been drawn partly away from anime lately, and towards other, more recent interests (how little time there is in a day), my enjoyment of the convention has yet to fade (which I say with a smirk directed toward those I know who I have gone to conventions with in the past, but whose interest has since waned). Though I haven't watched as much anime in the last year as I have in years prior, there is still so much about the general culture of the fandom that I like (not everything, of course, but certainly enough to keep me invested). I think it's amazing that I can be drawn to different aspects over the years. Years ago, I liked the conventions for the free anime and the tempting merchandise. I still liked the cosplay and the crowds then, but I'm more focused on that now. Its time has come, and that interest has matured in me. I still like the free anime and the [all too] tempting merchandise, but they may have abdicated priority at this time.

Now, where this is all headed is that I already can't wait for next year's con (granted, I enthusiastically accept a period of rest before it happens again, to regain my energy, make new plans, and hopefully (finally) settle the matter of my dwindling finances). The only plans I have as of right now (yes, already) are regarding "cosplay". And I put that in quotes because the one thing I'm dedicated to is dressing Lolita (which I had wanted to do this year, but it didn't work out) - and Lolitas traditionally object to their fashion (which some of them wear everyday) being referred to as "cosplay". The other idea I have is to do another Chii cosplay (after all, I've got the hair - and the legs - for it) in another outfit - this time, her long shirt/panties pajama outfit. The Lolita outfit is going to be elaborate, so it would be a good idea to make the other one something relatively simple, for the sake of mercy. But, I've got a whole year to think about it, and I may yet change my mind {editor's note: or get caught up in more cosplay fever}. One thing is for sure: I thought I might fall into the habit of doing one or two good cosplays, then becoming lazy (or poor), and riding those out indefinitely, wearing them over and over again, but my passion has been kindled, and I am eager to try new outfits!

{editor's note: Thanks for reading; the con really was a blast. I am still incredibly excited about all the pictures I took, and I can't wait to get them up and share them. And I am driven to do so before the excitement fades. Unfortunately, my frustrating computer problems are slowing me down, but stay tuned.}

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