Katsucon 007 (February 16-18, 2001) -- Arlington, Virginia
The change of plans
Of all the cons in North America, Anime North is the one I'd want to go to 10 times out of 10. It disappointed me when I learned that AN01 was being held on the same weekend as an important family event. Family comes first, thus no AN for me in 01.
That left the door open for other cons. As it turned out, several members of the #fanfics channel on Sorcery.net were going to Katsucon. After some hemming and hawing and checking of finances I decided that I could afford to go see them. Now, don't get me wrong here. I traveled to the East Coast to see them. I didn't care where we met. Katsucon was just a convenient backdrop.
Before arriving at Katsucon I hadn't even looked at the con schedule beyond checking to see if there was a fanfic panel. When I got there and did look at the program -- it's for the better that my intentions were to meet people and not focus on the con. I'd already seen or had zero interest in seeing the anime they were showing. None of the panels sounded interesting except the aforementioned fanfic one. I did look forward to going to the dance though. I had such a great time at Anime North's J-pop dance that I was ready to get down on a larger dance floor.
The pre-con warm-up
Vera LaPorte, Jord Carp, Mike Borrelli, Moogle and I were going to share a hotel room. LeVar Bouyer and Dustin had gotten their own room at another hotel, but would be hanging around with us. We did the usual amount of pre-con scheming... Mike brought a VCR, Vera and I brought some anime, etc.
Vera also wanted to do some cosplay / dressing up for the con. Since she has the mad sewing skills, little things like creating a costume didn't intimidate her nearly as much as they would me. (I wouldn't even try to make myself a costume. I'd likely end up tying my fingers into knots with the thread or doing something equally stupid).
Fortunately, Vera's plans were created with the costume impaired in mind. She wanted to dress up as Sana-chan from Child's Toy and I would be Hayama. She made a tail and some leopard ears, and would bring a sweatshirt for me to wear. All I had to do was bring a pair of jeans and I would be covered for doing Hayama. Simple, right?
I've never owned a pair of jeans in my life. Once Vera stopped laughing she glibly suggested that I go out and buy a pair. Easy for her to say. I loath clothes shopping with a passion. All those racks of garments. Those sales people lurking behind the displays watching me like I'm pawing over their goods. And I won't even go into what those overhead cameras may be focusing in on! It took me a few weeks of psyching myself out before I ventured into JC Penneys and found a pair of jeans that fit. (Yes, I did try them on before buying them :P )
That costume was taken care of. Vera's second costume was to dress up like Evangelion characters. She would be going as Asuka, Mike was Shinji, and I would be Kensuke (the military freak kid with the camera). It was a fitting costume since I planned on wandering around with a camera, had the right color hair, and I wear glasses. I had most everything I needed for that costume already. I only needed to pick up a red undershirt.
Our traveling schedules were exchanged and a plan for meeting up figured out by Vera and Mike. I was the first person leaving at 5am Pacific time and the last to arrive at 4:30pm Eastern. It's when flying across the country that one can truly appreciate how much time zones and distance can screw you over.
The (enjoyable) mistake
It was the Thursday before the con and I had yet to pack. I hadn't planned on bringing that much with me, it was only 3 days after all. My plan was to get off work, pack my bag, sleep a few hours, and be at the airport by 4am for my 5am flight. Of course, things didn't quite work out that way...
See, for the last few weeks leading up to the con I'd been wanting to see "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", but it wasn't playing in any of the local theatres. On Thursday, a close friend of mine, Austin, found out that a theatre in a nearby town was showing it. He came over to Medford (a 70 mile drive one way) just to hop in the car and drive another 15 miles to see a movie with me. Now that's a dedicated friend ^^ We'd gone to the last showing of the night, so when we got back to my place it was already past midnight. He left and I got started on packing.
Around 2am I finished. I'd already gotten a lot of the things I needed gathered and ready (like charging up the camera's batteries). There wasn't too much for me to do but to throw it all into a bag. I slept for an hour and then was up and on my way to the airport.
The adventures of the traveling otaku
The flights to Katsucon were unremarkable. I went from Medford to Portland to Minneapolis (where it was freaking cold) and then to Washington, DC. I'd never been to that part of the country before, so it was interesting to see it. It always leaves me in a state of muted awe whenever I find myself in an actual city. Much like the country mouse being stunned at what the city mouse had to show him. The tallest building in my hometown is 5 stories, and there's only 1 of those...
Vera, Mike, LeVar and Dustin met me at the airport. It was cool. I glomped them all ^^ I was sure to wear my letterman jacket for this trip (because it has my name on it), just in case someone didn't know me and they needed a hint ;) Moogle didn't make it.
We went back to the hotel, where Jord would be meeting up with us. He found us in the lobby and we did the hug / glomp thing again. Wow, the hotel we were in was certainly impressive (at least to me). I liked the wide open space that spanned for multiple stories. Using the elevators was a nightmare. Our room was on the 4th floor, so we used the stairs most of the time to get around.
After our bags were stowed in the room we decided to go to this underground mall to find something to eat. It was a little bit of a walk to get there (Vera-tachi had gone earlier in the day before I arrived). We decided to pile into Jord's car and drive there. Note to self: 6 people don't fit well in a Saab. LeVar, Mike and Vera sat in the back seat. I sat on Vera's lap and she complained about my bony butt :P On the return trip she sat on my lap and I returned her comments about boniness ^_-
Honestly, I'm still puzzling about the whole underground mall concept. Sure, it was nifty walking around in all these hallways that reminded me way too much of high school. I was expecting to turn a corner and find a row of lockers at every intersection. The other thing was that at any given time no more than half of the shops were open (and we ended up going to this place three times). It could have been because of President's day, I don't know. But you wouldn't figure on being able to run a successful business that way, now would you?
Once we were back at the hotel, Vera and I dressed up like Sana and Hayama. Karaoke was Friday night and she wanted to be in costume while singing "Ultra Relax". Personally, any person who can sing that song deserves respect. It's way too fast for me to keep up with. I wandered around with the camera some and recorded various costumes. (We'd spot them and then I'd zoom in and record them. It was like an otaku safari hunt ;) Anyhow, that could amuse us for only so long. The music videos went on and on and on and finally we gave up on going to karaoke (which was being held in the same room). So much for sticking with their schedule.
By that time it was 10pm and I was tired. I changed into my jammies and was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The next day...
Far earlier then my body wanted one eye peeled open and then the other. LeVar and Dustin arrived and we were still in the morning-larve stage of getting up. Vera, Mike, and I dressed in our Eva costumes. That was cool. I've never had anyone stop me before and ask to take my picture, so it was a thrill for me. (Though I realize that they wouldn't have stopped *just* me, they were going for the 3 of us or because of Vera's costume). Have I mentioned yet what a perfect Asuka she was? Mike did Shinji really well too, complete with the earphones and mini recorder.
I recorded more costumes and we all went down to the dealer's room. Wow, that was a lot of stuff, but not much of interested me. I picked up a Cactaur plushie and a couple Chocobo's Dungeon 2 keychains for myself. Everything else I bought was for other people. It was cool, if I had a budget of a few thousand dollars I could have gotten something for most everyone I know. (Except my parents ^^; )
The fanfic panel was at 2pm. Vera was on the panel along with Ryan Mathews (Moderator), Christopher Angel, Becka Catanzaro, Celes Maxwell, and Pearson Mui. The panel was 2 hours long. Personally, I was thinking that I'd probably get bored around the end of the first hour (my attention span isn't that long). I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself pulled right into it. Admittedly, many of the questions that were posed were things I'd already figured out long ago. It was a good discussion nonetheless.
We then ventured to the underground mall again. This time we walked. I'll have to chalk that up as a mistake as well. It was freaking windy and very cold. When we got there, some of the food places were open this time. I'd never encountered cafeteria style fast food before. That was a new twist for me to figure out.
After that we pretty much just hung out until the dance (which started at midnight). The cosplay took place before the dance, so the lower levels of the hotel were nuts with costumed otaku. Vera was still dressed as Asuka. After an argument with a can of Pepsi, I had to change my shirt. I also wore the tail Vera made to the dance (it's a very cool tail).
Mike, Vera, Jord, Dustin, LeVar and I trekked down for the dance. When we got in there, the Speed Racer sex remix was playing. Okay, that's a good way to start. There was a dancing circle near us. A giant Ryo-ohki was in the middle of it with a Vivi running around a tripping (trying to get people to dance). I dance with a Black Chocobo that had a bit too much to drink. They played a remix of Kung Fu Fighting that Mike and I were shaking our booties to and the German Sailor Moon theme.
And then there was an hour and a half stretch of musical crap, in my opinion. I realize that groups like Aqua and Garbage can be danced to, and are a lot of fun in context, but they weren't in context. We were at an anime convention. There was a room full of people who expected to hear anime music. I was terribly disappointed. Vera and Mike went to the DJ to request some songs. Vera pointed out that half the floor wasn't moving and that the dance would die if he didn't play the music the otaku wanted. He laughed and mocked her. That pissed me off because what she said was true. The last hour of the dance he finally caught a clue and started to play anime music again (Just Communication, Rhythm Emotion, etc). The difference in energy on the floor was startling and clearly demonstrated the point Vera made.
At the end of this page is a list of recommended dancing tune.
Anyhow, getting back to my story, LeVar and Dustin split before too long. Mike, Vera and I were doing most of the dancing. Jord just stood there and swayed back and forth some (at least, until they played Rammstein). Around 2am a guy wearing white jeans and a white tank top joined out group. It was Jeff "Oneshot" Wong. He'd wanted to catch up with Vera at the fanfic panel, but missed her. He was definitely into dancing. After a while he asked if we wanted to get together for lunch the next day. We said sure and gave him our room number to meet up with us later in the day.
At 2:30am we went back up to the room. We chilled for a bit before going to bed. Around 3:30am there was a knocking on the door. There was little chance that it would be LeVar or Dustin, so I couldn't guess who it was. Probably someone who was drunk and knocking on the wrong door. When I answer it, it was Jeff. He confirmed the plans for lunch with me again and then left.
The next day (again)...
Around 9am my eyes did the peel open thing again. It was so cruel, my body was telling me it was 6am and the clock disagreed with me. I got up and dressed, then went down to pick up a few last things for the people back home. Jeff had left a note for us to meet him in the lobby at 11:30am - noon. I went back to the room and people were getting roused and packed.
At the appointed time we went down to the lobby with our things in tow and waited for Jeff. He showed up and asked us where we wanted to go eat. The only place we could think of that (might) be open and close was the underground mall. Mike got his car from the valet and half of us went with him and the other half piled into Jord's car. We went to Sbarro's for lunch. That was nice, and not because of the food. We sat around and talked about whatever for a couple hours before we had to go to the airport.
Vera, my and Dustin's flights all left at nearly the same time. Dustin and I were on the same flight. Vera was in another terminal entirely. I'll skip over the craziness of trying to get two groups of people to the same terminal at the same time except to say that it would make for classic slapstick comedy. Dustin and I were going to see if we could get our seats reassigned so that we could sit together until he was upgraded to first class. The flight was double booked, so there was some chaos in getting everyone on the plane, but the airline sorted it out.
The longest leg of flights for me was a nearly 5 hour one from Detroit to Portland. The amount of time spent on the plane didn't bother me. What did bother me was the kid behind me that was either singing, crying, or kicking the back of my seat the entire way. I didn't say anything, but I was sorely tempted.
The hop from Portland to Medford was a quiet one; 8 people on a twin prop. When I showed up at the airport my dad was waiting to pick me up. We went to the baggage claim to wait for my bag. After about 10 minute a worker came out with my bag in hand. Apparently I'd been the only one to check a bag on that flight ^^;
All in all I had fun at Katsucon, though it was only a backdrop. The location didn't matter, the people did.
So, for those of you who may find yourself playing host in such a situation, allow me to give you a list of songs that are great to dance to. As I mentioned in last year's report, I do like to dance. These are just suggestions, but I'm pretty sure you could keep the floor hopping with them.
Mixing up the beat:
Non-anime / video game, but still good:
* Personally, I would use this song to either start the dance or to get it moving again if it stalls. The lyrics are perfect for inviting people to get out onto the dance floor and it builds up well.