This past weekend I returned to ConnectiCon, my favorite convention of the year. With the pandemic having shut down all conventions for 2020, I’d been away from my home away from home for far too long. With the vaccine and several safety measures in place, ConnectiCon reopened for 2021 and I was more than happy to finally come back.
Well, to be honest, I was nervous for several reasons, but once the weekend got going, my fears dissolved and my heart soared.
Why was I nervous? The biggest fear was Covid-19 and the possibility of bringing it home to my unvaccinated six-year-old son. My wife and I are fully vaccinated, but that doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of infection, even when you’ve been completely careful! But ConnectiCon’s safety measures, which included both a mask mandate and proof of vaccination, helped ease those fears, and the attendees’ compliance with said safety measures made me feel safe.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what made ConnectiCon so special for me this year.
There was a general feeling of reunion over the weekend. Between seeing old friends and convention regulars after a year’s absence, we were all eager to get back to “normal” without doing anything foolish to screw up the tentative recovery. Without the possibility of casual hugs or even handshakes, affection had to be expressed vocally, making for an abundance of heartfelt moments.
And what heartfelt moments they were. I received more expressions of love than I was expecting, both in words and tokens of appreciation! Many folks told me they missed me, with some even going so far as to call my hosting of the Cosplay Death Match “the heart and soul of ConnectiCon.” There was the kind gift of Star Power fan art. There was the young lady who gifted me a copy of her novel because an old panel talk of mine inspired her to complete it. There was another young lady who became so inspired by the very sight of an independent comic artist selling their work that she felt confident enough to pursue her own art again. There was the young man who found solace from his social anxieties in the wild freedom of the Cosplay Death Match. I could go on and on. The abundance of love was food for my starving soul.
Then there was the Cosplay Death Match, the event I host every year that’s become not only the main event of ConnectiCon, but arguably the heart and soul of the show. With reduced pandemic attendance, a slightly different backstage crew, and a year away from my annual hosting duties, I was worried this was finally going to be that “off” year where nothing clicks and it’s an awkward show. I felt like the show stumbled a bit out of the gate, and my confidence was wavering at first… but once everything finally clicked, like it somehow always does, the show took off and became another unforgettable evening. I could take the time to explain all the wonderful things that came from this year’s show, like “Blood for Yodin!” and “STEP ON HIM!” and why it felt so good to have everyone boo me, but that would ruin the mystique of those moments. The Death Match is best experienced in-person.
But I was also very cautious and responsible. I was masked all throughout the weekend, including during my Death Match hosting duties. After the show I went to my hotel room and only emerged to fetch dinner from local take-out establishments. I missed some of the socializing that comes with ConnectiCon, but I had to think of my health and that of my family back home.
For all my glowing, the weekend wasn’t perfect. No convention weekend is. I saved my rant about the worst table neighbors I’ve ever had for Twitter, because while I refuse to give that kind of negativity a home here on my site, I also felt the need to call out their crappy behavior. Kudos to ConnectiCon staff for handling them as best as they could.
With DragonCon the weekend prior and ConnectiCon last weekend, it was a tentative return to conventions. I don’t have any more appearances scheduled for 2021, so we’ll see what 2022 holds. If nothing else, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be back at ConnectiCon in July of next year. It remains my home away from home, and the food for my starving soul.