K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick! (bop_radar) wrote,
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!
bop_radar

Highly subjective impressions of Vividcon I

Earlier this month I headed to the USA for the first time (three days in Disneyland at age 12 doesn't count). When I first started planning/saving to go, some years ago, it was largely Vividcon that was the impetus for the trip. However by the time life and particularly money allowed me to go, I was--quite frankly--so over fandom that it had become nothing more than a faint excuse to get myself to the States and then go see some other cool stuff (San Francisco and New York were on my 'must see during my lifetime' list and I was very excited about both). But I signed up anyway and kind of figured it might give me some kind of closure about fandom/vidding before sinking into silent lurkerdom and reclusiveness (I would have happily deleted my journal and vanished earlier this year were it not embarrassingly flounce-a-rama).

Closure is not what I got. *rotfl*

Vividcon turned out to be the highlight of my trip. I don't honestly know how I'll find words to describe it fully, but I do know I'm going to have to write several different posts about it. I've always been baffled that people post-VVC either post next to nothing ('Vividcon rocked! moving on...') and can't really describe it when pressed for details, or post these long blow-by-blow accounts of what they did when with whom (which always read as self-aggrandising and namedroppy to me: yay for you, you hung out with a lot of cool people, great, HI I WAS NOT THERE :p). I'm now going to be one of those people and I GET IT NOW. By the end of the con my brain was so mushed I could barely form a sentence correctly--I was massively saturated/overloaded with not just vids (attempting to process so many so swiftly really WAS as hard as I'd always imagined), but also with all the creative inspiration and thinky thoughts arising from panels and conversation, plus more personal and interpersonal breakthroughs in one weekend than I've had all year. Not to mention the fact that I'd gone from being able to count on one hand the number of people I've met from fandom ever to meeting 50 of them from my friendslist all at once. My poor brain. *pats it*

Those long I-had-breakfast-with-X-and-then-walked-to-the-lift-with-Y posts? They have (I believe) nothing to do with communicating the con to people that weren't there. They're a way of hanging on tight to the memories and experiences that were so special but which feel so fleeting when it's Monday morning and you're trying to hold back the tears as you say goodbye to everyone. They're probably also a way to make visual the shared experience and validate it, but again that's largely for the people that were there. (I'm reading other people's con reports obsessively this year and memory-ing them, because I WAS THERE.) Selfish, yes, but I will flag mine clearly so anyone not interested or annoyed by that can avert their eyes.

I'm also going to write some other posts about the intellectual and creative insights I gained at the con, which should (hopefully) be more accessible and interesting to people who didn't attend but are interested in the con. I'll also write thoughts on what it was like to be a first-time attendee with very ambivalent feelings going into the con. I started the weekend literally shaking and hiding behind a potplant (as one of the leaves whacked me in the head I got the giggles badly, thinking 'Vividcon cliche! I am living it!'). I was pretty much like a deer in headlights for the first four hours and could barely hear what people were even saying to me. I'm not kidding. Yet, by the end of the con I was so relaxed and zen that when asked for feedback about the con by members of the concom (They ROCK! I heart them so much!) I seriously wanted to reply 'con good, me sleep now'. Seriously THE WHOLE WORLD (which had become the SpringHill Suites Marriott) WAS A BLISSFUL PLACE and the only bad thing about it was having to leave.

I was INCREDIBLY LUCKY in the people I met and the whole trajectory of the con experience that that created for me. I could have had (and thought I was going to have) a completely different con experience. Do I get how people could have a sucky Vividcon experience? Yes, absolutely. The people I met made the con for me but had I not stumbled on the right people at the right time and had they not been so UNBELIEVABLY welcoming and protective of me, things could have flipped in another direction. I will never take that luck for granted and if/when I go back, I would want to pay that generosity forward because the chick shaking behind the potplant really needed that. Also, to be fair, I pushed myself really really hard to make the most of the experience and push through my fears and talk to people despite them. There were times when I got maxed out on the degree to which I could do that so that even though I was sitting beside someone really interesting I had no energy left to actually talk to them as I would have wanted to (c'est la vie, I have no regrets--the whole con became an experience lived second by second for me and so I did what I could at that point in time), but overall I think pushing myself (while it probably made me seem manic or nuts at the con) made the whole thing way more rewarding.

In between, Vividcon was a trippy euphoric dream, punctuated by occasional lows that's true (the whole thing kind of crashed in on me emotionally at some point during Club Vivid) but I think even the lows were kind of brilliant to experience because a lot of them for me were about letting go of emotional hang-ups online.

Physically, the con was definitely psychedelic for me. There were demonic koalas at one point! (No, there really were--they were swimming over Brad's and Milly's heads in Outback Steakhouse: that place is SKERRY!) I couldn't eat properly for the first day and half I was so nervous, then I was fighting all the adrenelin that came from confronting my social anxiety issues (talitha78, gently, later pointed out that I was an idiot for thinking that I wouldn't have social anxiety about meeting my friendslist when I'd been unable to open said friendslist online for much of the year without hyperventilating. LOL THAT SEEMS SO OBVIOUS NOW!), and then there was alcohol, consuite snacks, hugs and lots of in person squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee giving me highs all over the place, plus this amazing kind of buzz around the whole thing that felt to me like crackly electricity coming off everyone. There was also insane sleep deprivation (3.5 weeks of getting by on a couple of hours a night, plus the night without sleep getting to the States, then similarly little sleep at the con itself). It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before but the closest thing would be a rave, in the sense that a lot of boundaries broke down and there was a heady, floaty euphoric feeling of TOGETHERNESS. I still feel a warm inner glow of happiness about the whole thing.

That sounds crazycakes, I know. I remember reading things like 'your first time at Vividcon is a life-changing experience' before and thinking 'pfft! whatEVER! *eyeroll*'. Well, it was for me, so I guess that is karma for eyerolling. ;)


The overall impression I took away from the con (bearing in mind that I hung out with vidders most of the time) is of a small community of people engaged in an evolving dialogue that is carried out in part through the medium of vids themselves. It is in part non-verbal and non-written and I think that was the most fascinating thing for me. Through vids, we share our selves, our insights and emotions with others and we also connect with others through the medium. I'd always had a sense of that online but wondered to what degree I was projecting that wishfully. I now think I underestimated rather than overestimated the degree to which this is true of the Livejournal-centric vidding community.

It does feel very (collectively) introspective and self-involved, but in person it was balanced by the openness of specific people I met, who metaphorically and literally reached out a hand to me and invited me in. I know what it's like online to feel like no one's ever done that to you, and it's fucking lonely, so I know right now that there are other people thinking 'wow, I wish I could have that, but I bet no one would ever be so generous to me'. All I can say is I thought that too and then I took a huge risk and it paid off.

I also think it IS a community in a process of evolution. That was clear at the con, and it now helps me understand a little better some of the fraught discussions that surround it online. Growing pains seem inevitable but not necessarily (long-term) destructive. They also sound WAAAAAAAY worse online than they do in person. Unfortunately online sometimes the conflict is all you see/hear... whereas at the con there was far greater acceptance of, curiosity about or even enthusiasm about the changes. Likewise at the con, calling people on the white-US-centricity, LJ-centricity, etc felt less challenging and less like attacking a specific person and more like saying collectively 'hey, maybe we should all collectively shift our thinking a bit'. I liked that. :)

I'd also like to say if anyone, especially non-attendees, has any questions they'd like to ask about what it was like, feel free to fling them my way and I will answer with complete honesty. Just bear what I've said above in mind. I was tripped out and sleep deprived most of the time I was there and my experience was no doubt different to anyone else's.

More soon... :)
Tags: vividcon
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