Convolution was excellent, everything you could want from your regional convention. I was not the only one to remark that it felt a lot like Baycon did once upon a time. Convolution is still relatively new and not yet as large as Baycon at its height but it certainly had that high energy, the evening scene in particular, and that feeling that everyone you know is there.
Comparisons aside here are some of my thoughts on the convention, in no particular order;
The theme. This is a place Convolution excels. They come up with a theme and then use it as a guide to build their guest list, programming, and so on. Legion of Fandom was a “big tent” appeal and meant good representation of various fandoms and fun stuff like the Ambassador’s Ball. Part of that is the effort the con puts into decorating the space thematically, I’ve said it before and will say it again; more conventions should really do this.
The Art Gallery was very well run. It looked great, the staff was on the ball, and a concerted effort had clearly been made to make things run smoothly but also to bring folks in and encourage participation. There was a lot of good art ,including some really fun new pieces by my friend Bryan Little, who needs a damned website or something already.
The dealer’s room had a nice variety of vendors including at least one who mentioned that they normally sell at Anime Conventions. Fitting given the theme, but also just a good idea generally; cross-pollination!
PARTIES. This was a highlight for me, obviously. The hotel is a good one for parties, with wide hallways, large rooms, and none of that depressing plastic-wrap nonsense. There were four or five parties each night, which is not a huge amount but seemed to be the right number for a convention of this size. San Jose in 2018 (and its Barbarella-themed Saturday incarnation) was of course at the top of the list and packed from beginning to end, but the Red Room Twin Peaks party was a nice surprise, BASFA was the last to close on Saturday I think, and the always reliable Klingon Black Hole plied it’s trade nicely. The Firefly LARP had a nerf-war room that I didn’t go into but sounded amazing as well.
There were a lot of great hall costumes,including some excellent Fury Road cosplay. There were some Convolution 2015 masquerade entries but I didn’t see any of the skits performed since Jade Falcon and Bill Howard roped me into being a warm body for their Hawkeye entry. It won Best in Show: Presentation though, so it was totally worth it.
One thing that bears mentioning even though it happened “offstage” so to speak from my personal convention experience is that the convention handled a Code of Conduct issue expertly, without hesitation or undue fuss. This was not for something that happened during the con but rather for a persona non grata who showed up despite being banned. So often we only hear when conventions drop the ball, not the least because a well-handled situation of this sort is practically invisible. So well done Convolution!
As with any convention there were one or two areas that could use improvement, these were pretty small in my experience.
First one was the lack of a printed pocket program. Yes, the guidebook app is cool but not everyone has the best phone (or any, kids for instance?) and keeping your phone charged in a con/hotel environment isn’t the easiest. I missed having a newsletter as well, I still feel they add to the sense of community and are useful for party info.
Second was the television in the consuite. The spread and volunteers were great, but where at most conventions the consuite serves as a social space to chat with folks, this one had a TV tuned to science fiction programming on television (commercials and all). So of course there were always people watching and no chance of talking with them, the staff, or your friends except maybe about the movie. Perhaps a TV with subtitles (which worked nicely in the Twin Peaks party) would have served better?
But these were the only things that I could point to offhand from my weekend. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in ages, I had conversations with people I’ve seen around over the years but never really spoken to at length, and I met entirely new people. Which is to say it was a damned fine con.