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Watching the Masquerade at DragonCon

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Lazy Sunday

Well, you've made it.  You have actually survived DragonCon until Sunday evening. Be proud of yourself. Some folks don't get past Friday morning before becoming completely inebriated by alcohol and getting hauled off by friends (preferred), hotel security (not preferred) or the ambulance (insurance company preferred). Sunday is the greatest evening at DragonCon for several reasons. First, you've experienced the most the convention has to offer. You have visited the dealer's room, seen the exhibitor's hall, toured the art gallery and taken over 3,493 pictures of every bikini clad Princess Lea you could find. The average DragonCon attendee would simply retire to their room and prepare for another mass party going on in one of the hotel lobbies, but the true DragonCon attendees are not. You see, an ancient tradition must take place first: The Masquerade. What you ask? What is the Masquerade? No, I'm not referring to club of choice in Atlanta for some folks, I'm talking about the once proud costume contest that has devolved into the target of flying jokes and is the source of this author's fun for at least four hours every Sunday evening at DragonCon. One cannot just go to the Masquerade... who would want to do that? No, one must prepare for the Masquerade in a very exact fashion. Shall we begin?



At approximately 4:00 PM (that's 1600 for you military types), make your way to your room or the room you will be watching the Masquerade in. Ensure that this room's owner and the company in the room is welcoming to you as they will control the flow of your evening. Ensure you also take any costumes with you to this room you will want to wear later. Yes, at DragonCon, there is always a later. Ensure you also bring the appropriate alcohol/mixer choices. I would recommend pre-mixing your beverages. Not doing so can only lead to bad mixes at the viewing party and has ended badly for many, many folks. I never abide by this rule always mix on the fly, but I prefer to live dangerously. For more information on alcohol, please visit the Alcohol page.  


Being Shut-Ins Together

So, you've made it to your room and/or the room you will be watching the event in. Why are we not actually going to the event itself? I thought you would never ask. You see, the hotel is the ultimate security blanket/safety net. At the Masquerade event, there are things like lines of people, foul smelling nerds, lines of people, rude Battlestar Galactica fans, Photo Gnome and more lines of people. I prefer to avoid all of that and just watch the Masquerade in low quality hotel definition sound and broadcast through the Oscar caliber DragonCon TV!!! In all seriousness, most film makers think of this when trying to stave off the orgasm phase of coitus as it is akin to thinking of Anne Ramsey nude. However, it is nice to have most of the major panels and shows at DragonCon broadcast in all the host hotels. Without it, I/we/you would be doomed to actually going to the Masquerade to experience this awesome spectacle in person and I don't think my heart can take such a live event.


Ok, back to the situation at hand. You are in the viewing room. It is now time to pre-beverage yourself. I have often found it helps to watch the Masquerade a bit out of one's regular mental state. For me, vodka helps. No, I'm not talking about a sluggish drunk (not yet at least), but I am talking about the simple effect that alcohol makes things funnier. When you see some of these costumes on stage at the Masquerade, funnier can be everything from barely tolerable to have an accident of the urinary nature in your pants.  


The Checklist

So, you've made friends with the 52 folks in your room. Yes, I'm serious. Doing a convention requires you to be in large masses of people even in your own/friend's hotel room. It's a right of passage. If you have not yet been baptized into this fold, then proceed to the bar and take care of things before reading on! Now, where was I? Oh yes, sitting in the room and preparing to watch the Masquerade. You have alcohol? Check! You've had the obligatory last minute meal from the Peachtree Center Food Court? Check! Found a comfortable spot which includes a good viewing angle of the TV, a short walk to the bathroom (important), easy access to the bar for refills and hopefully within touching distance of young girl/guy you hope to hook up with later on (see Safe Sex At Dragon*Con)? Check... well, mostly! Ok... lets roll!


Your Viewing Pleasure

The Masquerade will always start with the introduction of the the emcee(s). Having watched several Masquerades in the past, the emcee is usually lacking in talent; though Ethan Phillips (Star Trek Voyager's Neelix) was quite good. Other emcees have included Grant Imahara, Kari Byron and the Crossed Swords. Good, bad and ugly... your call.


Think of the Children!

Anyway, back to the show. The Masquerade is divided into two categories; children and adults. The children always come on first. At this point in the evening, one should remember that these are kids; budding costumers who need encouragement in the art. In some cases, I agree with this. In other cases, I take that statement, drag it in to the street and detonate a pound of hi grade ammonium nitrate underneath it. You see, here's where the Masquerade devolves from a once proud costume competition into a stage show of sometimes ellaborate and stupid proportions. Not just a costume competition anymore, it has now become something of a venue to show off a skit, play, or the first two acts of Hamlet.


Getting back to the kids. The kids come on, they get applause, they win (all of them) and then they move on with their lives. At this point in the evening, it is best to assume a higher level of inebriation. If you are not at that stage yet, proceed directly shots!


The Main Event

Now, its time for the adults. Oh god help us! This is DragonCon. This convention brings some of the best costumers on the planet to Atlanta and the Masquerade is/was designed to show off that talent. We celebrate that shit! However, what the Masquerade has become for most adult competitors is an orgy of costumed skits that make no sense, are not funny and are a pointed attempt to get thrown off the stage. Yes, you can get thrown off stage by the supreme enforcement at DragonCon for anything... Imperial Stormtroopers! However, due to the authorities at DragonCon and powers that be over the Masquerade, even the beloved tupperware warriors have lost their authority in some capacity as 2008's deserving castaways got a second chance to return to the stage to subject the viewing audience to more waterboarding... I mean costumed skits. Oh well, on with the show.


The adults come out on stage, showing off whatever costumed genre they have worked on. Some have spent the entire year perfecting their act. We have examples like "Fan Dude". Others have simply whipped up their costume in the last hour before the Masquerade. I'm not kidding here folks! In either case, if you have reached the appropriate level of inebriation, you will find everything you witness on the TV screen to be completely not worthy of any award. Your room, depending on who you are with, will be filled with either stunned amazement at what they are seeing or perhaps, like my room, perpetual bashing of the costumes and perrenial calls for the stormtroopers to enter the stage and not only escort the "entertainers" offstage, but if possible, blast them!


Post-Masqueradal Cuddling

By the time the show is over, the time usually settles around 9:00 PM. The winner(s) have been named and, in most cases, have won only because they didn't suck the worst. It is at this time also that your viewing should be purely topical as your more focused effort usually involves staying vertical on the way to the bathroom. It is now time to put on our costume and trudge downstairs to enjoy the last blast gasp of DragonCon on Sunday evening with your closest 38,000 friends in the lobby of the Marriott.  



I hope this step by step guide to viewing the Masquerade helps you in some way. The Masquerade is a traditional part of DragonCon that requires little prep, little time and has enourmous payoffs in the forms of good laughs and good times with friends. Please stay tuned for more from the world of DragonCon!

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