Last weekend, I attended the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention with two members of my former campaign team. I have been to other types of conventions before, including Duran related ones (attended and organized), other fandom ones like Wizard World, and the National Popular Culture one. I was not really sure what to expect exactly but I looked forward to finding out. While I learned more about the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, the more interesting thing was how much it felt like touring to me.
It’s All About the People
As soon as we began walking through the convention space to register and to see what groups and organizations had tables to advertise people or organizations, I began to see many people who looked familiar. In some cases, they are people I have seen at other events but don’t know well but others were people excited to see me and vice versa. In those situations, it was common for hugs to be exchanged and comments about what people have been working on lately. Each and every time that happened, I found myself smiling from ear to ear both because it is nice for people to be glad to see you but also because it totally reminded me about what it is like on tour. I think about just the last shows we attended in Las Vegas. As we walked from the bar we were hanging out at to our seats, we were stopped every few feet. Like the convention, typically there was an exchange of hugs, a quick conversation about how people are, maybe some discussion about seats or what they are doing afterwards and more. We were greeted so much that we ended up getting to our seats super late but thankfully arrived just before the lights went down. Obviously, in both cases, the venue and occasion provided a chance to see people who have a shared interest or a connection with.
Night Time Focus
The convention last weekend opened early in the morning. We aimed to get there a couple of hours after it opened just to give ourselves a little more sleep and the chance to drive there. On top of it, the schedule seemed light and was. The afternoon featured some meetings of different groups within the party. While interesting, everyone looked forward to the main attraction. At night, the large convention hall filled with party members all there to hear from the state’s elected officials. The lineup started out with less important people like the leader of the Assembly Democrats. As the night wore on, bigger names appeared to speak including our U.S. senator and our newly elected governor. The cheers got louder as we got closer to the keynote speech by Governor Evers. By that point, the crowd greeted the speakers with signs and standing ovations. What does this remind you of? I couldn’t help but to think that this was like a festival with the bigger acts coming on at the end and the crowd getting more and more excited and impatient as time passes.
Of course, the night does not end there. Like concerts I attend on tour, there is the after party. We looked forward to the various parties that were going to be held as we ran back to our hotel to change clothes and have a drink back in the room. (Not our first for the day as my friend, Andrea, and I found bars at the convention site!) Notice that what we did not have is food. We managed to grab something quickly back at the convention but I would not call it a meal. That is exactly how Rhonda and I usually roll on tour. So, what were the after parties like? It probably does not come to anyone’s surprise that the parties offered ice cream and beer for free. It is Wisconsin, after all! Of course, we ended up at the party with the DJ and dancing. We were not all that excited when it ended as we were ready to keep partying. Even then, though, it was all about people watching for awhile.
Needless to say, I had fun. As Andrea and I drove back home, we found ourselves having a conversation about what we would and should do next year. Do we know the dates? Do we know the location? One thing that we determined was that we wished we were staying at the convention hotel rather than a different hotel. That meant we lost time at the parties by traveling to and from our hotel. Plus, we could drop stuff off as we need which would make things easier. Then, we also learned which sessions we would want to go to again. Again, this conversation reminded me of what Rhonda and I have sounded like after almost every tour ever but especially when we started to tour.
While the focus of last weekend was completely different, there were many similarities between the convention and touring. I loved them both. It also got me super excited for the shows coming in September!!!