Back from our day at the Steampunk Symposium at the Queen Mary (at the? On the? Is it still “on” when it’s now just a hotel rather than a ship?) and I’ve got some thoughts about it.
First of all, Steampunkers are some of the friendliest folk I’ve met at a con. A simple “how did you make that?” can open up an hour long conversation, with other people joining in, commenting, and sharing ideas. And it seems nobody minds someone asking “how did you make that?”
The con itself had problems, though. First was the lack of any good maps of room locations. Okay, it’s a ship…a big, confusing ship…and maps are tricky. But because it’s a big, confusing ship, even more than usual, it needs a good map(s) to show where the heck you need to go. Fortunately – because of the “friendliest folk” above – you could always ask someone where something was. Unfortunately, even they didn’t always know.
Lack of maps tied in with lack of signage. Yeah, the Queen Mary staff would be annoyed if you started taping signs to everything (especially since it was still operating as the Queen Mary tour and hotel all around the Symposium), but even within that limitation, you can label things better than they did. Heck, finding the Con Suite was an adventure!
Not that it was worth the adventure. It was pretty much just a room…and they had some bottled water. That was it…
The costume contests had problems. First was the need for people to know they had to sign up at the registration desk – something you’d only know if, say, you were registering that day (see: “Signage, lack of” above), because it certainly didn’t say anything about it on the program guide (which was just a one sheet, two-sided paper).
Second, it wasn’t well planned – they actually had to ask for judges out of the audience to fill out their ranks! And the “woman’s” contest had about three, four men it – mostly I suspect because they didn’t get enough people signing up for it (see: “Need to know” above).
Third…well rather than announce a winner – or even have a winner…they told you to come back “at 4:30 to see if you’d be a finalist in the Fashion Show.” Mind you, it’s now 3:30, so you can’t really go much of anywhere or do anything because, well, things start on the hour, so you’d be halfway through a panel and then have to leave to see if you were going to be in the Fashion Show.
Finally, if you wanted to see the fashion show – you know, like you would at a con where costumes are 90% of the draw – you had to pay extra…
That’s right. A convention where the vast majority of effort and interest is put into costumes charges you extra if you want to see the big costume contest.
Yeah, I know there was food at it – which I assume was the reason for the charge – but that’s just – to quote Dib – “stupid, stupid…”
And then, the ball afterwards also had a charge.
So your at a symposium that nominally runs until midnight…but they’ve closed the huckster’s room at 5 (much to the annoyance of the hucksters, who thought they were open until 6), there are no other panels (until 11:30 at night, when there’s one), the con suite is useless, and the only events going on for those last seven hours of the day – you have to pay extra for!
And I have to repeat myself: Steampunk conventions almost totally revolve around the costuming. The costume contest and the masquerade ball are perhaps the biggest events of such a convention – and you’re charging extra for it just to see it!”
And not a little extra either – the Fashion show was $25, the Ball $20. Your one-day registration was only $35, so you are literally more than doubling your ticket price so you can see something that makes up the entire evening – and indeed, the heart – of the day you paid a ticket for! An evening containing the events you probably most wanted to see.
Let’s just say, this is a crappy way to do things…and leave it at that.
That said, we still had a good time, thanks to the oft-mentioned “friendliest folk” aspect. But to be honest, the actual con itself had little to do with it.