I was in Dallas May 30th to June 2nd to attend A-Kon, an anime convention I’ve been going to since 2004. Chantel and I drove up on Thursday, grabbed our friend Liz, checked into our hotel room, and went gallivanting around the Dallas area before settling into our hotel-home.
We grabbed lunch at Chipotle and did a bit of shopping. We stopped by a LUSH store at Liz’s request, and had a fantastic time smelling and testing all the lovely products. This was my first time in a LUSH store, and now I wish we had one down here in Corpus Christi. I could probably spend a load of money in there, but was fairly reasonable and walked out with a Fizzbanger bath bomb and a Mange Too massage/lotion bar. Following that, we went to H-Mart, which is a rather large Korean grocery store. When we arrived last year, we did the same thing. I suppose it’s becoming a bit of a tradition. We went to the Purikura shop and played in one of the photo booths before browsing the grocery store and picking out a few snacks. If you don’t know what purikura is, it is short for purinto kurabu, which is print club. Each booth has a variety of options to choose from before snapping your photos. When you’re done, you leave the booth, move to another curtained area, and decorate your pictures with a variety of stamps, borders, words, and other things before you finalize your selections and your photos print out. Then you can keep them as one sheet of pictures or cut them apart and share them with friends. Additionally, they are sticky-pics, so you can peel off the backing and use them to decorate other items.
Then it was off to the fantastic Mozart Bakery for pastries. It’s so hard to decide what to buy when everything looks so delicious. But we made our choices, did the rest of our running around, and headed back to the hotel to wait for one more friend to join us. Once Bobii arrived, we attempted to go pick up our convention badges, but they were closing the registration lines just as we got there, so we opted to grab some dinner and go hang out in the room for the night.
This was the first year since I’ve been attending A-Kon that the event wasn’t at the Sheraton downtown (formerly the Adam’s Mark hotel). Instead, it was at the Hilton Anatole, which I have stayed at before. It’s a beautiful hotel with a lot of space, including lovely outdoor space, and a large collection of Asian artwork. Additionally, the hotel made sure to have a variety of food options available for con-goers. There were also food trucks parked outside throughout the weekend. However, there were things that I was less than pleased with regarding the hotel and the convention this year. Regarding the hotel, I feel like the convention-goers were pre-designated as untrustworthy hooligans, as our room was lacking several things that should have been standard room amenities. Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but it makes me feel as though these items were removed in advance to avoid having them stolen. For example, we had no hairdryer, ice bucket, or alarm clock. Additionally, a king-sized bed that should have had four pillows had only three, and when we called down to request more, we were told they were already out of pillows. Ultra sadface.
As far as the convention goes, I know setting up such a large event in a new venue is probably troublesome and is likely a series of “let’s see what works best” instances, but that doesn’t make them less annoying. I’m used to standing in long lines to pick up my badge every year, but the line Friday morning/afternoon seemed particularly ridiculous. Chantel, Liz, and I were a bit cranky by the time we finally reached the tables to get our badges. And poor Bobii, who didn’t pre-register and was buying her badge on-site, waited in an even longer line. As excited as I was to get into the Dealer’s Room, we decided to go back up to the room, make sandwiches, have something to drink, and de-grump before going back downstairs. Bobii had just made it out of the line when we got back to the area, but we’d made and brought her a sandwich so she didn’t have to wait to go shopping with us. Honestly, I wasn’t particularly excited by most of the merchandise I saw this year. Maybe I was just disgruntled over the long registration line, but I just didn’t feel like shopping.
After wandering for a while we went back up to the room and, with much difficulty, decided to order Thai food for dinner. We had drinks, stuffed our faces, and then played a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity: A party game for horrible people. It was so much fun, and I highly recommend it! Not content to sit around the room all night, we adventured into the hotel in search of some sort of adventure. The garden area seemed like a good place for such things, so we walked along the trail for a while before settling into a nice, soft spot of grass for some cloud-gazing. It was rather nice, and it makes me glad the hotel has such a wonderful outdoor area for guests to enjoy.
The next morning Liz and Bobii got suited up in their Rarity and Applejack (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) costumes, and I snapped a few pictures of them outside before we all started melting out of our makeup and Liz’s feet fell off inside her awesome Jeffrey Campbell boots. Ha!
We wanted to scope out the Dealer’s Room again before they closed for the night, but we made it in with only ten or so minutes to browse, so it was another unsuccessful shopping trip. So, we went back to our room to roll around for a while and decided to order Italian food for dinner. This was a horrible decision because I think our eyes and brains were bigger than our appetites. We ordered pasta, which came with salad. We ordered bread because we didn’t know the pasta already came with bread. We ordered a small pizza to share because Liz wanted a margherita pizza, and we ordered dessert too. Geez! But it was so romantic! We cleared off the little table/desk in the room, made ourselves some drinks, and ate way too many carbs. Wanting to enhance the mood with some romantic music, I put on the Midnight in Paris soundtrack, which was quite perfect. We followed up our lovely and horrible dinner with another game of Cards Against Humanity, occasionally distracted to look at the lightning flashes outside our window.
Our plan was to go to the dance/rave that night. We got a late start, especially after our stupidly large meal. Who wants to eat a large quantity of Italian food and then go dance? We eventually made it downstairs, but were disappointed in the music and didn’t feel compelled to dance, so we wandered the hotel for a while before once again going back to the room.
The elevator situation wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be Sunday morning, and the quick check-out option on the phone made our exit even smoother. After loading all of our junk into our cars, we went back to the Dealer’s Room for a last try at finding items that really spoke to our souls, we might say. I did end up getting a cute Rilakkuma bag to carry at the next convention I attend. It’s adorable and gives me just enough room to carry my ID, bank card, some cash, and perhaps other small and potentially necessary items. And over the course of the weekend I did grab a couple of cute things in Artist’s Alley as well, so the shopping wasn’t necessarily bad. I just didn’t find myself as excited about as many things this year.
As our convention weekend drew to a close, we grabbed some quick lunch and ate sitting in the grass before going our separate ways. It always feels sad to be going home after spending time with such great friends. And there were certainly things I didn’t care for regarding the convention experience this year. However, I can’t say it was a total bust because of all the great fun I did have, and I’m going to stay optimistic about next year’s con and hope that, learning from this year, there will be improvements to how certain aspects of the event were handled.
Here’s to 10 years of nerding out at A-Kon in Dallas, Texas!
PS. Some of these pictures may have been stolen from Liz, so go visit her and stuff: Liz Locksley.