Let me first begin this by expressing my thanks to those that hosted the convention and put together the awe inspiring event that was Bronycon 2013. Overall, for its size (and it truly was massive at about 8,400+ registered attendees), the con ran incredibly smoothly. There were some issues with long lines and technical difficulties, but that is par for the course for any convention and are to be universally expected.
The staff should be rather proud at the resounding success that this con has been with the ranks of zealous fanatics of fluffy pink unicorns that apparently dance on rainbows as they flowed throughout the events like a river filled with pastel colored rapids. Even with the large surge of attendees, there were no fights with security, everyone was kind and respectful to both the convention staff and convention center employees, and the con goers were practically unified under the banner of friendship.
Most cons have their hands full with 1,000-6,000 attendees, but Bronycon handled the swell with both finesse and a poised sense of grace. Even more amazing, not a single fire alarm was pulled (There was, however, a somewhat minor incident involving an expensive sound system… but I’ll get to that in a later section).
Before the convention even started, I attended an event that a local company from the City of Baltimore was hosting that Thursday (August 02). This was of course, the Brony Bar Trot, organized by Crawl Baltimore [twitter-follow screen_name=’CrawlBaltimore’ show_count=’yes’]. First off, I believe (if you are 21+ of age, of course) that every convention from here on should start like this. I mean, a convention is stressful enough. Why not unwind ahead of time with a night filled with drinks and fun?
Now that the thanks are out of the way, we can move onto the crawl experience of Thursday evening. While online registering for Bronycon, my friends and I had also registered for the aforementioned “Brony Bar Trot” located in Baltimore, MD’s Fells Point District that was a little ways away from the convention center located at the Inner Harbor district. So after we picked up our press badges, we quickly ran a cab down there to check it all out.
For the most part, it was well organized. Guides were posted around the street to point wandering bronies to the correct establishments (although there were many bars in the trot, there were plenty of them not participating) in the crawl with drink and food specials.
Another other bar that stood out was Todd Cornner’s that was right across the way from Bradley’s. Not only did their pink Pinkie Pie Cocktail pack quite an alcoholic punch, it helps that there was a brony on staff at the bar. They had episodes of the show playing on large monitors with fans crowded around drinking up a storm (and to my amused horror, singing along… not because they were singing… but more like because I wasn’t drunk enough yet for drunken sing-a-longs). So yes, Todd Conner’s was in the spirit, and was quite the friendly environment.
We actually ended up skipping it entirely, which is what most bronies apparently did. There was also another bar that didn’t really “get the memo” which was the Admiral Fell Inn. While it was swamped in upper scale decor, and had an interesting below street entrance… the featured special was a $6 vodka punch + a free shot of vodka to dump in it (which would remove one of our coveted 3 free shot tokens)… Too rich for our blood by the time we got around to it… so we also ended up skipping that one as well.
Overall, the bar crawl was quite fun. We met quite a lot of great people and very nicely made drinking establishments (here’s to you Dogwatch Tavern… which ever door is your true entrance) throughout the evening. All in all, it was probably one of the best “pre-convention” nights I ever had. I was lucky that I only got slightly dehydrated and didn’t have much of a hangover the next day… very lucky. I really do think that all future fan culture conventions, no matter what the fan culture is, no matter what city, should start off the first day or day before the con with a heavy fan themed bar crawl!
Also, it is good to note here that many would be patrons of Bronycon could not join in the Thursday Night bar crawl due to long registration lines. So “Good Guy” Crawl Baltimore quickly made a 2nd night (Friday, August 03) crawl and honored those ticketed for that Thursday. Having drunk my fill and still a bit wiped out from the first night, I did not attend the 2nd night. But good on them for being cool to the people who still had outstanding tickets.
Have you attended a convention where the city itself did something interesting for the patrons all on it’s own (that wasn’t directly hosted by the convention staff)? We’d love to know! Tell us about it in the comments.