We’ll Take It In A Little

BayCon was a mixed bag for me this year. There were a lot of changes, a lot of uncertainty, and you could see the seams in some places as a result of events of the past few months. Some things went smoother than others. Some problems happened through no fault of the convention at all. And, now that the weekend is over, I’m curious to find out what the final attendance was (since, at times, the place seemed pretty deserted compared to previous years at the same hotel).

But every cloud is said to have its silver lining, and, oddly enough, the best thing to come out of this year’s BayCon may be a new way of putting on what ‘s generally the central evening event of most conventions I attend: the Masquerade.

Normally, I couldn’t care less. As a basic concept, the Masquerade is great idea, and I have been known to enjoy it. But the reality, especially at BayCon, is nine times out of ten there’s a line to get in, it runs much too late, contains far too many boring or overlong sketches, and has an endless halftime that still never manages to be quite long enough for the judges to come back with results. Most crucially, it eats up time I’d much prefer to spend having a civilized dinner, taking a much needed nap, and getting changed for the evening. And yes, I do mean to use ‘and’ not ‘or’ in that last sentence.

If you’ve read previous issues of Yipe!, you may well protest this can’t be true; I have written with fondness of Masquerades in the recent past. Yes, I admit that of
late I have learned to relax and love the event after other conventions like Gallifrey One and Anime LA made me re-evaluate my previous, perhaps overly harsh opinion. But the key phrasing here is “other conventions”.

So I was not particularly saddened when I heard BayCon would be doing away with it entirely. But, as it turns out, they didn’t so much eliminate as reinvent it.

Instead of the usual skits-on-stage in front of an audience, they apparently had a close-up interaction with the audience and judges. No skits meant no green room wait, no weeks spent practicing, and the ability to have relatively last minute entries from some folks who otherwise would not have participated. From what I hear, this did cause some of the more seasoned master class costumers not to bother (although, to be fair, pre-con confusion as to whether there would be any masquerade contest at all was probably a bigger problem) but encouraged new costumers to participate since there was less pressure and prep.

From all reports, the experience was enjoyable but still in the rough stages, and some polishing of the concept may help smooth it out. Having the toastmaster announce the costumes, for example. And I don’t think this approach will work for everything. But certainly for smaller conventions, such as SiliCon, this might be a good option and certainly make me more likely to check it out next year.

~España Sheriff

Yipe! Volume 2, Issue 6, June 2010