written by Trisha F. (@latentblonde)
Have you ever walked into a place and felt so instantly at home you were sure you’d wake up from the dream any moment? If you haven’t, you might try attending next year’s Geek Girl Con. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this gem of a convention run by and for women of the nerd-persuasion, and it was spectacular. This con not only made me regret having not been a long-time convention attendee, but it also changed my way of thinking about a few of my fandoms. Impressed yet?
Geek Girl Con has a simple mission—to “[support] and [celebrate] geeky women. We’re still created by geeky women for geeky women; still no “geek cred” required. Be you a Trek fanatic, an amazing LARPer, an FX artist, a scientist (mad or otherwise), a librarian, a hardcore gamer, a fanfic writer, a genre reader (or writer), or any kind of geek you want to be – you are welcome.” What is great about that is that it encourages young geek girls, supports geeks of all types and fandoms, and spotlights women in “geeky” careers as well. I was particularly impressed with the edible astronomy and do-it-yourself science zone. This is truly a place where you can embrace every facet of nerd culture.
Geek Girl Con ’13 is the third year of this particular con, and you can tell that it is getting bigger, better, and better run. Despite some program hitches and changes in the schedule, management and volunteers seemed friendly, nonplussed, and knowledgeable. There was plenty of signage, so things were easy to find and the layout of the con seemed to work well, with gaming mostly downstairs, panels in rooms and the second and third levels, and exhibitors on the third level. There were lots of things spread throughout as well, like live music sporadically on the first, an art exhibition on the second, and even a quiet area dubbed “introverts hall.”
GGC is a weekend long, with Saturday being the main day (panels and such running until 10:30 PM) and Sunday featuring the closing ceremonies and a much earlier end time of 6.
Saturday highlights included the GGC meet and greet at the Raygun Lounge, a spectacularly geeky venue where nerds can drink beer and wine while playing a wide variety of tabletop games. I loved the location, the space, and the spread was delicious as well. I’m not sure if it was my late arrival or walking in already meeting friends, but I was a little sad that I didn’t mingle more. I figured I would have time for that inside the con. I hustled from Raygun to the Washington State Convention Center because I did not want to miss the panel I was most looking forward to out of the whole weekend—“Is Star Trek a Feminist Utopia?” I had prepped for the panel by watching some episodes from my favorite Star Trek universe, “The Next Generation,” and jotted down a few talking points. I was really fired up about the topic, because there are so many instances where it is blatantly obvious that not only is ST not a feminist utopia, but they barely had many any strides in gender politics. There was a huge difference in what I pictured than the actual event, however. The panel started with introductions and delved into episode discussion—panelists highlighted their favorite episodes, each panelist representing a different ST franchise. While their knowledge was vast and impressive (if someone mentioned an event in an episode, other panelists would be able to recall the episode title and/or season) I was disappointed right away. I didn’t feel the examples were particularly impressive or feminist. I was writing down rebuttals like mad. Eventually, as attendees went up to the mic to ask questions, the panel delved into the subject matter. These ladies were absolutely amazing. The way they handled topics like model minorities, the lack of LGBT characters, and posed interesting questions like where should ST go from here and maybe it isn’t how many female leaders or how oversexed female characters are, but how the ST universe is one based on exploration and democracy rather than war and hostile takeover that makes it a feminist utopia. I will never watch Star Trek the same way again.
Walking around the con in between panels wasn’t as friendly or interactive as I had hoped. Of course this is in part to my own reluctance to approach strangers and ask for photos or strike up conversations, so I am going to make a big, strong push to be much more outgoing at cons from here on out. I didn’t think many of the attendees looked very friendly or approachable initially, which made me retreat even further. When I went into panels, though, there was more opportunity for mingling. You know the people inside are into some aspect of a fandom or topic you know about, so conversation was easier. I was able to take a picture with several regenerations of the Doctor from Doctor Who, from 4 all the way to 11. They welcomed me into photo ops, too, since I was the TARDIS. It was great to see fans of all ages come together like that.
Other Saturday highlights included the “Imaginary Friends” screening, a local web series written by a woman. It was cute, quirky, and funny. I can’t wait to see more from these talented young people. The Seattle Experimental Theater was also a great experience. They performed an improv called “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” based on original Star Trek. It was very interactive and funny. I was quite impressed at the final product—it seemed like it could have been scripted because it came together so well.
Sunday was more of a meandering exploration of the entire con. I was able to check out Artist’s Alley and the exhibitor’s hall. The art was awesome, and the geek influence was easy to spot. From fantasy to comic book stylings, there was something for every nerd to enjoy. The exhibitor’s hall was even better—any type of toy, clothing, pin, jewelry, or accessory you can imagine was there. They had awesome prints, some matted already, scads of clothes and toys... The best part is that all of them are local artisans and many offered a personalization, as well, so if you didn’t see a fandom or a character you liked, you could ask them to make it for you. I was enthralled.
The best part of Sunday’s lineup was the Ladies of the 80s sing along. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but the emcee was very personable and his comments were hilarious. They featured lyrics over the original music video, which was awesome, and favorites like Pat Benetar, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, and Lita Ford were spun. I sang almost every song, and was sorely tempted to join in the impromptu dance party that broke out. It was a great, inclusive time.
Closing ceremony left a little to be desired, but I think after a long weekend and a lot of last minute changes, the organizers were relived to be done with a successful con. I have to admit that I teared up during the DoubleClicks’ wonderful original song, “Nothing to Prove” that closed out the convention weekend.
There were tons of really cool photo ops, and I am sorry my cell camera didn’t capture them as well as I would have liked. I have a lot of notes and things I want to do differently at cons from here on out. Getting in early seemed to be a major factor in con attendance. By the time I arrived Saturday at 6:30, it was majority thinning out in terms of crowd. Photo booth and vendors were all shut down. I’m taking the full weekend off of work for any future cons to get the full effect. By the time doors closed both days, the WSCC seemed like a ghost town. I also am going to be more prepared with schwag or business cards. I think if I had some sort of ice breaker, I would be less reluctant to approach people. Despite those lessons I will apply to my next con, I had a great time. See you at Geek Girl ’14!