30 July 2011

Saturday Seven: Seven New Things to do at Dragon*Con

Dragon*Con turns 25 this year, and as befits a 25-year-old, it looks hot. The World’s Biggest Summer Camp for Wayward Adults has taken over a new hotel, boosted its TV signal (Dragon*Con TV broadcasts more original programming than most networks—and none of it remotely reality-based), and added even more great stuff to the schedule.

And it’s only a month away. I’m not quite counting the hours, but I am spending way too much time with the official progress report, polishing my name on the guest list and noting all the stuff I want to do. My panels, of course. The concerts and parade, ditto. But this year, I want to try something new. Since I don’t have my schedule yet, I don’t know what it will be, but I do know there’s a lot to choose from. Today’s Saturday Seven is just a sample:

Dragon*Con Masked Ball (10 p.m., Friday, September 2, location to be announced)
The con’s decided to celebrate their 25 anniversary with a grand ball, specifically a grand masked ball. Masks will be required to attend, but not to worry if you couldn’t find anything to match your party togs. Masks—including some created by the con’s Costuming Track—will be sold at the door, with all proceeds benefitting this year’s chosen charity, the National Inclusion Project. Music will be provided by The Ghost Project and their special musical guests. They’re even promising a new waltz written specially for the occasion.

The First Annual Comic Book Babes Contest (8:30 p.m., Saturday, September 3)
Comic book costume contests aren’t exactly new to Dragon*Con. For years, the con hosted a Dawn lookalike contest celebrating the comic book creation of Joseph Michael Lisner. This year, however, they’re expanding the field—and the prize money. The winner will take home $1000. The audience wins, not only in terms of greater variety, but also in the master of ceremonies: Goth geek king Voltaire.

Costuming Fashion Show (2 p.m., Sunday, September 4, Sheraton Grand Ballroom)
With so many mask and costume options in Dragon*Con’s exhibit halls and dealers room, it can be hard to wrap your brain around it, much less figure out what you want. To help, the Costuming Track has invited fifteen vendors to display their complete costumes, at no cost to vendors or fans.

Late Night Puppet Slam (11:30 p.m., Sunday, September 4, Hyatt Regency Ballroom 5)
Having never attended a puppet slam before, I can only assume the show operates like poetry slam, where lots of poets hit an audience with their best shots in the hope of winning a prize at the end of the evening. In any event, hosts Bob and Carl—aka the Sci-Fi Janitors—have invited some of the top puppeteers in Atlanta and beyond to bring their best geeky bits to Dragon*con’s many fans of the unusual.

Jefferson Starship Science Fiction/Rock Opera Mash-Up (date and time to be announced)
In addition to their live show, musical guests Jefferson Starship will participate in a mash-up of founder Paul Kantner’s Blows Against the Empire (the first album nominated for a Hugo) with the Vangelis score to Bladerunner. The show will be accompanied by multi-media projections of set designs from the movie. It should be wild, but I still think the concert will be wilder. But I may be prejudiced. The last time Starship played Dragon*Con, I danced onstage in a sarong.

Professional Photographer for the Fans (September 2-5, Marriott Marquis)
For years fans have bought professional photographs of Dragon*Con guests. This year they can take home a more personal souvenir—a professional photograph of themselves in all their costumed glory. The photographers will even provide appropriate science fiction and fantasy-themed backgrounds.

Workshops, Workshops, Workshops (various times, dates and locations)
Want to learn Tai Chi from actress Erin Grey and paranormal investigation techniques from LiveScience and Discovery News expert Benjamin Radford? What about taking a two day writing seminar taught by bestselling author Jody Lynn Nye? You can do all that and more at this year’s Dragon*Con. Workshops have long been a part of the program. A.C. Crispin’s Advanced Writers Workshop is a perennial favorite. But this year the workshops have expanded to the point where they practically constitute their own track. What are you waiting for?

Well, besides the 33 days until the opening festivities, that is. Hope to see you there!

Jean Marie Ward
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