The Kid and I just returned home from GalaxyCon, a pop culture fan convention in Raleigh.
This convention reminded both The Kid and me of another fan convention that took place five years ago in Illinois, called DashCon.
My child flew up to participate in the inaugural event.
The first night there was an opening night soirée they called a prom. And, early in the evening a faint whiff of trouble began to circulate.
Suddenly, the music stopped and Megg, one of the organizers, took to the stage and addressed the crowd. She told them the hotel had suddenly changed the terms of the contract. Unless $17,000 in cash was given to the hotel within an hour, the convention, Megg informed them, would be canceled.
In addition to requesting everyone present to go online and request their friends and family donate everything they could to a PayPal account, a literal hat was passed around with exhortations to, “please give, anything you can, even a dollar”.
Somehow, the money was gathered, and the convention went on.
It’s important to note, that to this day, the hotel insists that they did not make an eleventh hour change to the contract.
The next morning, The Kid and friends were headed out to a pancake breakfast, and they ran into organizer Megg, crying hysterically. Vendors and guests were fleeing the event, there wasn’t enough money, they needed many more staff than they had, and everything was ruined.
One of my child’s friends, Christine, volunteered The Kid and company to help out. Breakfast was postponed, and everybody pitched in.
My child ended up working with Megg and assisting the senior staff. The first item on the agenda was to convince the weekend’s biggest draw to stay.
Welcome to Night Vale was a hugely popular scripted podcast. One of the first big hits of the genre. They were at DashCon, and were planning on doing a live episode in front of a large crowd that had purchased tickets.
The arrangement was for the troupe to be paid in full before the performance.
Except, there were no funds available.
With The Kid in tow, Megg attempted to get them to perform now and get paid later. Sensing a fiscally troubled theme, the podcast creators declined, and departed. An hour after the podcast was to begin, a packed room was informed that the podcast was canceled because the cast tried to hold up the convention for more money.
At a crisis meeting, one of the staff had a brainstorm. One of the attractions was a ball pit. Because of either a mistake, or cost-cutting measure the size of the pit was similar to a backyard blow-up pool. To appease the hundreds of ticket holders for the canceled Night Vale performance, they were offered an extra hour in the ball pit.
The decision has since become infamous and a symbol for the fiasco that was Dashcon. If you google, “ball pit dashcon”, it will return 104,000 results.
As day turned into evening, it became clear that the event was a huge flop, and at a hastily convened Q&A which descended into bitter recriminations and tearful excuses it was revealed that there already lawsuits being organized. The Kid was still assisting, and still had not had pancakes, or anything else to eat.
Freshly arrived home from her disastrous trip to Illinois, my child recounted the weekend’s adventures. Multiple times during the telling of it, I laughed so hard that I almost fell off my chair at Elmo’s, a diner in Durham, where The Kid was partially hidden behind, finally, a huge stack of pancakes.
Thanks for your time.
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