Many long time readers will know that I’m a cosplayer, panelist, general fangirl and convention nerd. I am fortunate enough to have plenty of friends that I get to room with and have been doing so for years. Recently, my current co-panelist and dear friend, Carlos, went to a convention without me. He’s been a key part of helping me panel, helping me gain confidence as a panelist and we’ve been hitting conventions together for nearly 4 years now. He’s been very open to admit that it’s weird to go to a convention without me and I’ve admitted to him that it almost feels like an infidelity going to a convention without him eve though I do sometimes get to go to a convention without him or just with another group of friends..
Now, here’s a good time to mention something about me and Carlos (though it was hilarious cosplaying as Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale who canonically has a boyfriend named “Carlos” and having my co-panelist be Carlos): we’re bros. He’s one of my best friends and I am so lucky to have him in my life as a friend. We bro out a lot, actually. But due to the nature of me and my friends there are now things that are very associated with conventions and these con traditions mean the world to me. So here are a few of the traditions I’ve picked up while working the convention game for years.
Be it short or long distances: I am a planner. I am remarkably Type-A and planning helps prevent chaos which helps prevent stress. So Carlos and I plan for literally months for conventions. We pick hotels, we budget, we plan our routes. We organize tickets and travel. We collaborate schedules and these calls can last for hours. I have 3 golden rules for hotels: there must be free parking, free breakfast and free WiFi and each hotel has met that and we have landed some amazing hotels because of proper planning.
The Wonders of the Night Before
The night before convention usually means last minute costume prep, video equipment checks, presentation checks, finding panel rooms and going to bed early because there’s free breakfast to be had come the morning. The night before also usually means putting together cosplay bingo and all of the unpacking. On top of that: if we’re in a hotel with a kitchen: the night before means grocery shopping at odd hours of the night.
Food Food Food
Eating is very important and it’s stressful being in costume and being hungry. We have a lot of traditions around eating so here’s a few and they have amazing stories behind them.
Dammit, the Beef is Mine
Dallas has an amazing Asian community and Korean BBQ is very common. During our trips to Daiso and other hot spots during convention weekends, Carlos and I found a lovely little Korean BBQ joint. The food was delicious and the service was great: it quickly became a favorite place to go and get a lot of food, talk and unwind for the stress of convention to come. There’s something about chopstick battles over the last slice of beef short rib. Trying to dare each other to take a bite of the steamed egg custard. By now, you’re probably asking about this magical Korean BBQ place that I love so much. Well, it’s a secret.
Meet Me at Kirin Court
This one’s an old one and it has an amazing story. I was at convention with Carlos and another friend and we were doing our best to decide where to eat. We did a brief search and came across one rather peculiar place. While my friends discussed where to go I managed to cut through the noise.
“Guys, you need to take a look at this.” I said in my best impression of a scientist from Jurassic Park and I turned my laptop around to reveal a website full of animated dragons, soft samisen music and a vast menu of rich and exotic dumplings and dishes. Needless to say, we chose Kirin Court. We arrive and it’s not just great dumplings and dim sum. It’s great tea, great, main dishes, amazing service and all in an atmosphere that feels somewhere between a bad yakuza film and a K-drama. Kirin Court’s been on the list anytime I visit home and now with Carlos and almost any convention we try to go at least once.
The S’More You Know
A few cons ago, I stayed with a friend at her lovely house outside of Austin with Carlos, of course. We were out in the middle of nowhere and we decided to take advantage of the huge backyard and quiet open spaces. We got a fire starter for the fire pit outside and we decided to make s’mores. I have a huge sweet tooth and s’mores happen to be one of the things I tend to crave. I’ll never forget roasting marshmallows out in the middle of nowhere. No city lights. Just stars. S’mores are not part of the con list of snacks due to a helpful oven recipe to mimic the flavor of the campfire indoors.
Served With Class
The most recent hotel rooms we’ve had have been awesome enough to have kitchens and that means shopping and groceries. We get to keep food in the hotel and do a little bit of cooking. The last few conventions have featured cheese plates because I am fancy and my friends are fancy and don’t judge us.
TV and Entertainment
Believe it or not, most time at convention for us is not spent at convention. We spend a lot of time at the hotel and there’s a few shows and activities that you can now count on.
The beauty of being a fan is the nature of shows that are constantly updating or can easily be binged as background noise as I work on costumes, Carlos checks his deck and the rest of the room unpacks. These shows are great background noise and we usually watch things we’re watching. These shows have included:
- Steven Universe
- BoJack Horseman
- Deadliest Warrior
It’s an intense list and we basically watch whatever we’re watching in our normal day to day lives.
In Heroes We Trust
Carlos and I are huge comic fans. Our friends are comic fans and when we’re all together in one room: we watch comic book movies. Assault on Arkham, Teen Titans vs. Justice League, Batman Forever, I could list on and on. We crack jokes, muse about differences in headcanons and rant about Sailor Moon transformations that do not belong in a good superhero movie.
Nihon or Bust
Dallas has Daiso. Daiso is a popular convenience chain in Japan and for some damn reason Dallas has one. I will let you and the multiple Daiso bags and kawaii stationary and ungodly amounts of Hi-Chew come down to the conclusion of how many Daiso runs we make during convention weekend.
When In Doubt: Sissy that Walk
In our adventures in our not so ideal A-Fest, we did discover one thing: we could all agree on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
To Have and to Duel
I’m a huge nerd. My friends are huge nerds. Many of us still play Trading Card Games. One of our favorites is YuGiOh and many of us grew up with a certain type of battle style and a certain type of cards. We we get together for convention, we tend to share cards and duel because it’s a bit of a rare game nowadays.
Angels Fall Through Pride, Friendships Fall Through Super Smash Bros. Melee
As I mentioned before, my friends and I are huge nerds so rest assured that if we have any time in the hotel it’s likely being used to play video games. Some favorite titles include Soul Caliber II, Naruto Clash of Ninja series, Mario Kart (because that does ruin friendships) and Street Fighter now because yes, I had to learn about E-Sports, dammit. Oh and card games like Cards Against Humanity are very very popular!
Just Keep Swimming: Even If You’re Awful At It
I really love the water. I’m an awful swimmer. Carlos is a great swimmer and will often rub that fact in my face but now we go out of our way to swim. I’m also quite petite, so I often get made fun of for my desire to swim in a pool that usually goes above my head. During the last convention, we found the hot tub to be rather restorative and it’s been added to the list on hotel wants if at all possible.
There’s a lot I could talk about when it comes to this topic. I’m a seasoned convention veteran and I have some of the best friends in the world around me. But what’s amazing is that these traditions grow, change and adapt. We added Korean BBQ and Daiso runs. We cook now. There’s white cake (which is hilarious if you’ve read my convention posts before). The shame corner: a place I have to go when I make one too many puns still remains. And what’s even more amazing is that some of these traditions even go behind Carlos and I as friends (as I’ve mentioned before I’m a very old fangirl).
I could go on about this forever. But what’s important is that these traditions are part of what we do now. It’s part of our friendship and the friendships I share with others. I taught friends both new and old these traditions and these traditions have changed. Like Bedouin tents: we pack up these traditions and they move from convention hotel to convention hotel.
I actually sat down to ask Carlos about what his favorite tradition was and his answer did not disappoint me: It’s gonna be corny but best con memories are first days. The bro-ments and catching up and hype the best everytime.
It’s true, conventions are a time to be together with friends. Friends I don’t get to see as much as I’d like to. Friends I love seeing and hearing it from him was great.
So if you’d like to know more about convention planning, convention prep and my favorite con memories: feel free to leave a comment!
Thanks for reading!