Why in the world would someone spend the money to come to a convention? The last couple of weeks I have dived into two really huge reasons. First, people go to a convention in order to be with other fans. They want to be around people who not only understand them and their fandom but who are just like them. Conversations surrounding one’s fandom can take place all day and all night. One of my fondest memories from both the 2004 Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans and our 2013 Durandemonium convention in Chicago was sharing and hearing stories. Some of these stories included when and why people became fans, shows that they attended, meeting the band, etc. I also enjoyed knowing that if I said certain phases, everyone there would understand me. I didn’t have to explain myself. Everyone got the inside joke, so to speak. The second reason, though, that people go to conventions is the activities. Conventions have activities that cannot be found in just a weekend with fans. There are special activities. The combination between both the activities and being with other fans is pretty enticing. Yet, beyond doing truly cool things with other fans, there is also the desire to escape reality.
One can hang out with other fans anywhere, even one’s own home, if fellow fans live close by. The activities might not be able to replicated, though. Likewise, the escape from reality might be very short-lived, if at all. How many times have I been at a meet up or hosted a get together when someone has to leave early due to some other obligation or something that comes up with family. When one goes home or goes home within a few hours, reality hasn’t really been avoided. Maybe, I’m the only one but I like to escape reality when I can. My life is pretty busy and often stressful. The breaks away really do matter. They not only make me happy but probably make me more capable to deal with everyday life tasks and whatever gets thrown my way. I suspect that I’m not the only one like this, either. Heck, it is a BIG reason why touring has such an appeal to me. I get that escape. I also get to travel to new, fun places.
I am someone who has discovered that traveling truly can be fun and exciting. I have been able to get a lot of that from touring. Yet, as we all know, there hasn’t been a tour in a long time (in over a year) and no tours are in sight. I will need something in between these long touring droughts. Conventions could provide the reason to travel. They could also provide that escape as they are long enough that reality must be forgotten. If they are far enough away, reality is not much of a possibility at all. Thus, conventions could provide cool activities with fellow fans while providing an escape from reality and a reason to travel somewhere. In many ways, traveling for a convention is much easier than traveling for a tour. A tour, in most cases, requires one to get from one show to another. Most of those shows are in different places. Then, you are traveling almost everyday. Sometimes, the travel in between shows can be quite lengthy. Let’s look at our last tour. We started out in New Orleans and saw shows in Biloxi, Mississippi; Atlanta, Georgia; Durham, North Carolina and Portsmouth, Virginia. Anyone familiar with U.S. geography knows that that is quite a trek. A convention allows you to be in one place for a weekend or longer.
To summarize, conventions provide fans a chance to meet each other and to interact with each other with conversations about a common interest of passion, one’s fandom. Then, conventions contain many very cool activities and opportunities that are not available for random meet ups and other fan gatherings. Conventions are larger in scale and scope. Lastly, conventions allow fans to escape from reality. Sometimes, this escape gives fans a chance to travel and be somewhere different. Of course, for many fans, in many fandoms, conventions provide one other really important thing—access to celebrities. I will tackle that big aspect of conventions next weekend, assuming that there isn’t any huge news on the Duran front.