I spent Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. Just as I did last year…and the year before that…and the year before that. In fact, 2016 marks the seventh year that I’ve found my way to The Athens of the South. There’s a really good reason for that, and it’s one of the largest pop culture conventions in the country: DragonCon. While I was celebrating my seventh anniversary, they were celebrating their thirtieth. As always, it was a tremendously good time.
Over the years, I’ve built up a solid ‘Con Family’. Friends I see once a year that I’ve met in line for a panel, or sitting outside the entrance to one of the hotels, or wearing a costume that caught my attention. Cosplay (dressing up as a character from a movie, video game, or other figure of pop culture) has become a big part of the DragonCon Experience. All weekend long, there’s nearly an unlimited selection of things to see and do. Various panel discussions are held at all hours of the day with celebrities or subject matter experts in all corners of geekdom. There’s three stories of vendors selling wares as varied as replica lightsabers, wigs, collectible toys, and furniture designed for gaming. There’s a huge gaming floor with every manner of tabletop game you can imagine. There are dance parties, fandom gatherings, and LOTS of drinking. Everyone’s experience is different. Over the years, cosplay has become the focus of my journey.
Most years I participate by wearing a costume (or three) myself over the Thurs-Mon time-frame of the Con. This year, I only took one costume. My time was spent mostly wandering between the five host hotels of the convention with my camera, capturing costumes and talking to the people that showcased them. They were all selected with care and consideration, as these are typically not costumes you can just buy at the store. People spend serious time and money on accuracy and quality. People use DragonCon to fly their nerd flag high, because no matter what that flag is there will be others that fly the same one. It’s an event of inclusion and celebration; four whole days of having a good time among like-minded people. The ‘Con Family’ I mentioned earlier are the folks that I recognize on sight, regardless of what obscure outfit they might be wearing. Some of them are folks that only know me as Marty, as that’s the costume I’ve worn most to the Con. Others I stay in touch with regularly and have even come to Oklahoma to visit. It can be overwhelming (they estimate over 77,000 attendees this year) but it’s always worth it. I’ve made life-long friends and continue to be inspired by the new people I meet.
I find that any post I write about DragonCon is best told through pictures, since that is my primary focus throughout the convention. Below are a few of my favorite costumes of 2016 and, at the end, a link to my entire Flickr gallery. If you are reading this and find yourself in my photo gallery, send me a message! I’d be happy to send you a full-res copy of the photo.
As promised, here is the link to the rest of my photos. Enjoy!