DragonCon - Costuming

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DragonCon, in its 31st year, occupies the convention space of four prominent downtown Atlanta hotels (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Sheraton). The organizers indicate that over 30,000 participate each year. Science fiction or Star Trek specific conventions of the ‘70’s have expanded to become such topics as these: writing, art, anime, gaming, comic books, space science, independent film, podcasting, robotics, and specific popular programming (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.)

Sure, I left a few things out. There’s a lot going on, with over 850 hours of total programming. The public side to this Convention is the DragonCon parade, an hour long succession of one costumed theme after another.

The parade might fool you. The costumes are definitely not worn for “just” the parade. It’s a weekend long endeavor, for which many bring multiple costumes. There’s also a variety of costuming “how to’s” that support the many contests. The major one is the Masquerade, but genre specific costume contests are also held, such as the Mrs. Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant. Be still my beating heart…

As much as anything “sci-fi or fantasy,” DragonCon is about the costuming. It’s the most visible common denominator amongst all the varied interests represented. This is also well known. To admit going to DragonCon puts one at the top of the “known Geek” list, but the follow-up question is the one seeking to stereotype: “Okay, and do you dress up?”

There’s a lot of that - just click the Flickr banner to the right for photos we’ve taken over the past two years. Even those deeply entwined with the subject matter can’t always identify who, or what, people are supposed to look like – there’s simply too much source material. Plus, some number take inspiration from source materials at hand, not necessarily something that others would recognize. This isn’t age or physique specific, either. Certainly, the majority are aged 20-30, but the middle aged, more seasoned, and youth also participate.

It also can make for an interesting escalator traffic. Next?

As fun as it is to “people watch,” those that dress obviously like the attention, and the vast majority of those attending (except the gamers buried in the basement of the Hilton) are more than willing to give it. But it’s the unsuspecting public that is even more fun to watch. Hotel staff are either very well trained to act nonchalant or have otherwise seen everything. Policemen… start off shaking their heads on Friday, and by Sunday are as fed up with holding traffic for aliens crossing the street as they would be with any typical Earthling. And we won’t even discuss the food court.

Add to the midst of abnormalcy the hordes of unsuspecting Clemson and Alabama football fans who descended on the city for Saturday evening’s game. No doubt they’ll be going home to warn their loved ones of the dangers of mingling with “big city folks.”

A couple of notes. The pictures show a large number of Star Wars stormtroopers. This isn’t by accident. (note: turn volume down before clicking; they have vocal fan support):

There are many groups for people of common interest, and the Stormtroopers, as well as the other evil Empire staff, are members of a club called the 501st Legion. With over 4,000 members worldwide, they’re available to march at fundraisers and other events by request. For those not aligned with galactic evil, the Rebel Legion is a sister organization with the same purpose. They have a sense of humor about themselves as well.

There were two other videos worth sharing. I have no clue how people make these things, but they look pretty darn amazing:

The second is a great example of a Dad getting involved to help a dream. The first time I saw this, I thought it was someone with a remote controlled tank. Presenting, the Transformer:

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