13th November 2016
I have been attending anime conventions for the past nine years, ever since attending my first (ColossalCon 2008) on the weekend of my 18th birthday. It has been fun, but it has also been a doozy. For that first convention, my boyfriend at the time organized a travel group of 13 people to take up to Cleveland, OH with us.
The following year, my boyfriend and I had split, and another friend organized the travel group, equalling 14 people.
In 2010, that friend had a medical emergency shortly before a convention, and passed the travel group reigns over to me. From there, I have upped our count from one convention per year to somewhere closer to ten, I have started my own panellist group The Abusement Park (which is well-known in the eastern Midwest area), and I take anywhere from six-to-thirty people with me for every convention.
Most conventions go smoothly, especially in more recent years since everyone is older, more mature, and has a stable income. But still, I have plenty of horror stories from my years doing conventions.
I have decided to share with you all ten things NOT to do when travelling to an anime convention with a group. These may seem hilarious. These may seem self-explanatory. But remember that the offenders in these cases were educated adults in their twenties who seemed to be sane people prior to inviting them to travel with me. You never truly know someone before travelling with them, but maybe reading this list will lead your conscience to kick in before causing the others around you multitudes of headaches.
1) Do not invite seven of your friends to travel with the group without alerting the group leader first! (2016, 23-year-old offender)
As a group leader, I get a head count early on to see how many people I have to accommodate for when travelling. I then have to book the number of hotel rooms to accommodate for that number of people. Ultimately, I must write out the names of everyone attending and assign them to individual rooms based on relationships, friendships, and enemies. Lastly, I need to see who from the group is able to drive and assign people to various carpools. It is a process that has gotten easier throughout the years, but still can be stressful.
As a result, it is not a good idea to try to sneak seven people into the travel group. It is not a good idea to sneak anyone into the travel group without telling your group leader in advance, but seven? Seven people that no one else knows? What do you think is going to happen when a room of four suddenly becomes a room of ten? Chaos, that’s what!
Luckily, this person’s plan was uncovered prior to the convention, and they were swiftly dealt with (i.e. all eight of them being banned from travelling with me).
2) Do not go the entire weekend without taking a shower and using deodorant! (2008, 19-year-old offender)
Everyone who attends conventions knows the pains of “con funk”: that unflattering smell that fills a convention centre by Sunday morning. Cosplay can be a sweaty thing, especially depending on an individual cosplay choice. A Chun-Li cosplayer in the winter is going to smell heaps better than a fursuiter in the summer. It’s common sense. It happens. But it is important to practice good hygiene to alleviate others from smelling your pain.
If you are trapped in a car for seven hours in 100-degree weather, you are going to be smelly. If you did not apply deodorant after your shower that morning, you are going to be very smelly. And when you do not shower for the next four days, your roommates all want to kill themselves.
If someone that you are sharing a room with politely comes up to you and suggests that you bathe, go bathe. If after a few days, your roommates angrily come up to you and demand that you bathe, go bathe. And for heaven’s sake, use soap when you shower, because when your roommates eventually shove you into the bathroom and lock you inside, you will not smell any better if you stand under the water for two minutes and then skip right back out. Ugh. Just, no.
3) Do not lock your roommates out for hours because you want to have “alone time” with your significant other! (2014, 23-year-old and 21-year-old offender)
I understand, especially for older travel groups, that hormones exist. Many travellers are in relationships and travel with their significant other. Con sex exists. It happens. And most people are understanding of this.
But when the majority of a room comes up to me and complains that they have barely been able to get in their room all day, that they cannot rest or change their clothes or grab their laptops because two people are having a sexual marathon…that doesn’t fly. I don’t know anyone who would find this acceptable.
Even worse is when you enter the hallway of your hotel floor and can hear the sweet sounds of procreation echoing through the halls. When you are in public, you need to be considerate. Let people know if there is a certain time where you would appreciate an hour alone. Most people will work around that without issue. But when you are at a convention, you are there for the convention. You paid money for the convention. And other people paid money for their hotel room and expect to be able to access it throughout the day without fail.
4) Do not spontaneously decide to attend another convention the weekend prior and then hand your group leader $20.00 for the hotel room! (2016, 24-year-old offender)
Conventions are typically planned things. You plan to attend. The people around you plan to attend. Things need to go right for that convention, especially financially, so it is crucial that you anté up all due monies on time and in their entirety.
Life happens, and sometimes things occur last minute that can prevent you from having all funds. Most group leaders are understanding. I’ve have people get in car crashes, have their parents die, get injured, lose their jobs, etc. days out from a convention. And I work with those people. I’ll take a financial hit for them. Others in the group will help to pay for what they can’t. It’s okay.
But when you decide to attend a convention across the country with a split-second decision, bankrupt yourself at said convention, and then hand me $20 out of $115 and say, “This is all that I can afford now. By the way, did you bring any food?”, I will be tempted to throw you off the balcony. This is not acceptable. This is extremely irresponsible, inconsiderate, and rude. And you will never be invited to a convention again.
5) Do not do drugs in front of cops! (2011, 20-year-old offender)
Some groups follow laws to a T. Some groups are more lenient and 4/20 friendly. But at the end of the day, no one wants to go to jail. Especially for someone else’s stupidity.
There are many people at conventions who bring small amounts of marijuana with them wherever they go for medical needs. I personally know multiple people with bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, anxiety disorders, and chronic pain who will use marijuana to alleviate their symptoms. For states where medical marijuana is legal, they have nothing to worry about; but for states where it is not, they must be very careful. And they normally are.
Then, there are the people who just smoke recreationally and decide to be dumb with it. Accidents happen, and this leads to cops and ambulances arriving at a convention to assist the person in need. So, if there are cops outside your first-floor window attending to someone in the parking lot, and you decide to roll a joint on the windowsill, then your group leader has every right to throw you and your drugs out of the room. Permanently.
And I did not refund that fool his hotel money, either.
6) Do not alienate your roommates! (2014, 20-year-old and 22-year-old offender)
We are all individuals. We all have different likes. Different opinions. And that’s okay! We all try to be respectful individuals, and welcoming of the differences that others bring to the table with them.
This does not give you the right to antagonize the other people in your room! It is okay to run a “Feminism In Anime” panel. There is nothing wrong with that, and many find that commendable knowing that trolls will enter the room during that time just to mess with you. But this still doesn’t give you the right to make the content of your entire panel revolve around “all men suck” and “all men are sexist”. Furthermore, this doesn’t give you the right to rehearse the panel for hours in your hotel room on a loop, glaring at the males in the room as you do so.
All that is going to happen is that your roommates will complain on you, and then your group leader will have to advise that you find another hotel room for the next convention. Under your own name. And building upon this point…
7) Do not wake up your roommates and threaten to pepper spray them just because they are the opposite gender! (2015, 26-year-old offender)
Yes. This happened.
No. The men did not provoke this to happen. They were all sleeping and had even given the poor girl pizza earlier in the day.
Yes. She had legitimate pepper spray. She woke up all of the men in her room and warned them that if they even looked at her wrong, she would not hesitate to use pepper spray. She then called her mother and asked her mother to bail her out of jail if she were to get arrested for pepper spraying someone.
No. I have not invited her back to any future conventions.
8) Do not pee on your roommates! (2014, 22-year-old offender)
Sigh. Y’all, I’m tired.
9) Do not blow hundreds of dollars at a convention and then have no gas money for the trip home! (2015, 23-year-old offender)
Some people have more money than others when attending a convention. For a plethora of reasons, you may choose to be frugal at a convention and spend your time more on socializing and attending educational panels. Others may use a convention weekend as their annual vacation, and as such may go crazy in the dealers room and rack up tons of shiny new gifts for themselves and others. Both practices are okay, both practices are common, and both practices can lead to a happy weekend.
Still, it is important to pay attention to how much money you have in your bank account while at a convention. When you are seen in your hotel room on a Thursday night, counting nearly $800 worth of twenty-dollar-bills, and bragging about how much money you have, there is absolutely no reason why you should have to beg your travelmates midway home on Sunday to fill up your gas tank.
When the others in your car also gave you $20 each to pay their share of the gas, and you have blown that all over the weekend as well, this is even more unacceptable. Especially when one of those people in the car is a jobless seventeen-year-old who still managed to manage his money better than you. I understand that money management can be a tricky sort of thing, but blowing $800 and getting yourself stranded in the process is just downright ridiculous.
10) Do not turn your head up to 90 degrees in your hotel room during the summertime! (2016, 24-year-old offender)
Need I say more? It is the middle of summer! It’s 100-degrees outside for most of the country! If you are cold, turn the temperature inside the room from 70-to-73. Put on a hoodie. Put a blanket over you. Drink some tea.
Causing your roommates to fall ill due to the extreme heat inside of the room, combined with the extreme heat outside of the room, earns you a one-way ticket to banned-ville, and could potentially earn your roommates a one-way ticket to the hospital. Be considerate. Be smart. Do not put anything above 80-degrees on a summer day!
Check out a video on this topic from Angela Nicole!