Kage Baker slogged determinedly through many the Monday of a 3-day weekend. Most of them were Memorial and Labour Day weekends at Renaissance Faires – those days when the performers were insanely energized; when instead of husbanding our strength, we poured it out in double measure and sucked in extra from some other dimension, just to accomplish Monday.
We’d danced and acted and sang and paraded and drunk for two full days already. Most of the intervening nights, too – some of us, in our heedless young strength, would go all weekend and never sleep. Monday was just another altered state, where the show went on regardless of who had to be peeled out from under a table or poured back into their costume.
Dawn of the Dead, we called it.
Conventions can be amazingly similar. Cons are often held on 3-day weekends, so as to get that extra day of partying and posing, of wearing your Royal Manticorean Navy uniform, of arguing how the outcome of WWII or the Peloponesian War would have played out in the alternate universe of your choice. Someone flawlessly accoutered as a Dendarii Mercenary two days ago is now wearing Jayne’s ear flap cap over Predator dreadlocks, furry Sasquatch slippers, and a tail of slogan ribbons 3 feet long. Much trading of pins, tags, badges, medals and items of clothing has taken place. The lines for coffee are Threat Level Red zones. Most panels outnumber their audiences, a majority of which are either still drunk or frankly asleep.
Dawn of the Dead, they call it.
The folks at a Con also soldier on through fatigue and blurred vision – the show must go one, after all. And the line between performer and audience is much softer and blurrier at a Con that at a Faire. Sure, the folks who paid at the door are there to buy things in the Dealer Room, and play the enormous, hand-crafted mutli-player games in the 24-hour Gaming suite. The avid readers are looking for their favourite authors, to argue over plot points in their latest books. Panels in every science related subjects are set up – with as many real writers and scientists as possible – in order to promote discussions among the interested. There are DIY classes on topics from making proper steam punk goggles to threading E-cord through the tail of your Furry suit.
Those folks who come to partake of all these goodies from the the folks selling, talking, demonstrating, and lecturing are just as much a part of the show as the vendors and panelists. Often more so – the participants in the Burlesque Saturday night were volunteers. I think … even the young lady in the leather pauldron and chiffon kilt. Certainly, the large group of Star Fleet personnel, in appropriately colour-coded uniforms, were audience members: though their progress through the lobby was a show in itself. Even better was the Regency Dance party later, where the ladies of the group showed up in Dress Uniform prom dresses, still with Star Fleet emblems and in departmental colours. Kudos to you, ladies!
You pack as much living as you can into a Faire, or Convention. It’s a dreamland, it’s a sacred place, it’s where you always wanted to be but cannot stay in more than the length of this precious weekend. You don’t waste that intense living on sleep or ordinary activities. You came there to see, to be seen, to argue the topics no one else your family cares about, to lecture about space tethers and DIY solar cells to people who already want them. You come to sing with, and preach to, the choir.
So, tired as we were, me and my fellow panelists and quite a lot of interested auditors all came to my last two panels today. The panelists perked up into quite a simulacrum of life – the audience was full of questions and argument. We discussed asteroid mining, La Grange point habitats and alternate histories – and they were rich and interesting topics, every one.
I don’t understand why everyone (except me) is so determined to make WWII come out differently; nor why they insist on arguing their points in such repetitive detail … but the light in their eyes makes it very clear that this is one of the Great Good Times in their lives. And hey, I’ve got my hobbyhorses, too. I am just as happy to ride my ponies in this rare space as they are. And so … I do sort of understand.
Now the halls are silent. Neassa and I were the only diners in the restaurant this evening – the waiters were lonely, and chatty. The elevators are suddenly always empty. Business men are checking in now, and looking warily at the few examples of green hair and alien naval insignia still around …
Time to go home. Or at least to bed, and then the long quiet road home tomorrow morning. Good night, Dear Readers.