On the way home from Dragoncon, Fred and I spent at least 20 minutes trying to recall how many years we have been going to the biggest nerdi-gras in the Southeast US. “Has it been only seven? It seems longer.” “No, I think it’s been seven. First year, it was just the two of us and we had no idea what we were getting into. The second year, we took the kids….” and the conversation went on from there as we recalled the different Dragoncon years in terms of cosplays and company. “Wait, that was the year we did Steampunk Futurama. Remember? You had to take the service elevator in the Marriott because you couldn’t fit.”

And the memories went on and on from there. Laughing about all the stuff that would otherwise be frustrating and unappealing for any normal person at an event. Fondly recalling the 45 minute wait for an elevator and bonded with complete strangers over a game of Cheez-it Scrabble. Eating crappy day-old pizza out of a box on the floor of our hotel room. Gargling with Goldschlager at 8:00 in the morning because no one could find a toothbrush. Sweating in heavy costumes, but reveling in the requests for photos and compliments from the people we were squeezed against on the Marriott Atrium.

No matter what happens at Dragoncon, it’s awesome.

This year’s convention was no different. It was awesome. From the new friends we met, to the new cosplays we rolled out, to the great cosplays we saw. From the fabulous AirBNB just across the street from the Hilton, to the Rooftop Karaoke and the best version of Mulan’s “Be A Man” you’ll ever hear — it was all awesome.

The Ride and the Stay

Getting there is half the fun! Much love to Heather and Greg for being our Dragoncon partners in crime. If you’re going to drive six hours with someone, you better like them a lot (or be heavily sedated). Then, if you’re going to live with them for five days, you better LOVE them. Good thing both apply to the fabulous Blackwells.

Oh, and can we talk about the accidental brilliance of stumbling upon an AirBNB located out the back door of the Hilton? I’m not telling you ANYTHING about it because we’re hoarding it for ourselves. It was perfect.

The Cosplay

We rolled out a few new cosplays for the event and brought back some oldies but goodies. Here’s a sample of the fun stuff…

The People

SO MANY COOL PEOPLE! We ran into our favorite Handmaids at the parade Saturday morning and met new, awesome people at the Wakanda Photo Shoot on Friday. We partied at the Welcome to Wakanda Party Thursday night and forged deep relationships with complete strangers at the Rooftop Karaoke both Friday and Sunday nights. On Fred’s birthday, we got everyone at the High Velocity bar in the Marriott to sing to him and then was serenaded by a very random saxophone player.

The Celebs

The Walk of Fame is ALWAYS a favorite for us. We’ve met some really cool people at Dragoncon and this year was no exception. Peter Capaldi, Catherine Tate, the cast of the Expanse, the cast of Black Lightning, Jamie Murray, Benedict Wong, Jonah Ray… oh, and let’s not forget the Ricky Whittle experience. It’s hard to explain, but I will tell you that you want the experience. Even if you don’t know who Ricky is (look him up RIGHT NOW), you want the experience. We watched a woman lose her footing and visibly shake. Someone may have made a baby — right on the spot.

We also got to visit with Courtenay Taylor, the incredible voice actress famous for Mass Effect’s Jack, the Sole Survivor in Fallout, The Regular Show’s Starla, and so many others. We stalk her like a convict because she is SO fabulous. Beyond her voice acting, she is also spearheading an initiative to get nerds registered to vote. Check out NerdsVote.com to get involved.

Talk about cool, the cast of the Expanse entered into a scheme with me and Heather to play a joke on Fred. They agreed to pretend to be our long-time friends to confuse him. There were hugs and stories about parties we went to together years past! Fred was confused, but we were convinced that Dominique Tipper, Frankie Adams, and Shohreh Aghdashloo were our new best friends.

I also discovered my new favorite TV show — Black Lightning — after watching their panel on Dragoncon TV. I enjoyed listening to Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III and Nafessa Williams talk about the show that I searched them out on the Walk of Fame to talk to them. Krondon may play the baddie on Black Lightning, but he is the most delightful ray of sunshine and positivity! I wandered past his table several times just to catch him smile.

The Experience

In the spirit of complete transparency, I started getting sick during Dragoncon and ended up with asthmatic bronchitis upon return. As I write this, I am highly medicated and nursing a pulled muscle in my abdomen from all the coughing, but…

It was worth it.

As one Facebook commenter posted in response to the question, “So did anyone else get sick after Dragoncon?”:

Last year I got so sick that my lungs are still terrible; I developed asthma. I was sick for two weeks, pretty much unable to move, and I looked like something from a horror movie. I was so full of disgustingness that I had uncontrollable conjunctivitis and just had to spend all day wiping my face with a damp towel. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. The con was great though.”

“THE CON WAS GREAT THOUGH.”

In other words, it was worth it.

When asked by a Dragoncon volunteer if there was anything they could do to improve our con-going experience, my answer was (with complete honesty) “Nope”. It was perfect. A team of volunteers manage to create an experience for 80,000+ attendees over five days and across seven buildings — basically all of downtown Atlanta — and we all have fun. Even the frustrating bits are fun. Climbing up the hill to the Westin — fun. Pushing through the Skyway — fun. Waiting to get into a panel — fun.

It’s difficult to explain to people who have never attended this wild and crazy event why we pine and plan the entire year over it, or why we have Dragoncon withdrawl. Look for the smiles in all the photos and the crinkles of happiness around the eyes.

Dragoncon is magical. It’s sweaty, weird, expensive, crowded, and tiring — but always magical.

I’ll let the videos speak for themselves… See you all at Dragoncon 2019. We’ll be at the High Velocity Bar!