Dragon*Con 2009 Report #4 – Day 2, Alderaan party

I’m going to preface this with saying I’m not exactly a “party person.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a party pooper…I’m just not usually one for going out and clubbing and whatnot. I occasionally have serious problems with crowds and really prefer to be able to hear when people are talking to me. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t engage in the occasional party. Our old UMT parties were legendary. I happened to miss the period of party-throwing at the theatre that included putting vodka in the slushie machines (don’t worry, it was thoroughly cleaned out later) but the later ones were pretty fun, too.

Those parties aside, though, you’ll most often find me opting for bashes and celebrations held at houses of people I know, peopled with other folks that I know. That’s just the type of person I am. I generally prefer the fun, low-key gathering of good friends.

That said…

The Alderaan party at Dragon*Con was friggin’ awesome. It’s probably the best party I’ve ever been to. The full name, as given in the program guide, was “Party like it’s the last night on Alderaan” and people acted accordingly.

Maggie and I didn’t go in right away. There had been a little bit of a line started while the folks inside were setting up the room (remember, they had to remove all the chairs and change the sound hookup from the Mr. Star Wars event) and we felt like milling about and catching some of the costumed fun first. We did see the gentleman I had been talking to earlier in the evening – the one we thought looked like Superman – at the front of the line. FYI…from here on out, he’ll be referred to as Superman. Just so you know.

Anyhoo, after we toured the Marquis lobby a bit we decided it was time to check out the party. Maggie laughed as we went in and turned to me, saying “It’s like an 8th grade dance.” And, indeed it was. Even though the party had already been going for about half an hour there weren’t many people dancing. In point of fact, I don’t think I remember anyone dancing. They were all kind of milling about. There were tables set up in the middle of the big room, with chairs grouped around them, and then more chairs – these ones in rows – at the back, near the water. The stage had been kept up from the previous event but a nice bit of floor had been cleared for the non-existent dancing.

Seeing, no one engaged in the activity the party was supposed to be designed for, I did the only thing I could think of to get things going.

I started dancing like an idiot to whatever music was playing. I think it might have been “Cottone-Eyed Joe” but I’m not entirely certain. That could have just been what was playing in my head as I flailed about. A couple of folks standing near me chuckled and looked on. When I paused I turned to them and said “Well, we’re at a dance, right? We’re supposed to dance.” Quite clearly I have no issues with looking the fool in public. Especially when I’m already dressed up in full costume. My motto is “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” I didn’t come up with that, but it fits.

Maggie and I circled through the crowd, heading for the far side of the room. From what we could tell, that’s where the DJ was. By that time, one or two people had started wandering out to the middle of the room, but things were still rather dead. It turned out there wasn’t really a DJ, per se. Instead, there was a computer with a huge song list hooked up to the sound system. The woman with the laptop had a pretty good idea of what was in the song list and we could come up and try to make some requests. I asked if she had “Cha Cha slide” on the list, thinking that a group dance type of song would break the ice a little bit. She went ahead and queued it up. Maggie and I stashed our gear off to the side of the room, behind a table, and took our places on the dance floor. There were a couple of other, older Jedi already located up near the stage area so we fit right in, costume-wise.

The song began and we all got down. Well, as much as we could in one song. I actually managed to find a video of this part of the Alderaan party over on youtube. It’s pretty dark for most of the video, except when someone’s flash goes off. Maggie and I are in there somewhere. I recommend some of the Jedi with lightsabers and I know we were pretty close to them at the time so it’s likely we’re off in the right side of the screen but simply can’t be seen.

Honestly, I think that was the big turning point in the evening as far as the dancing went, as things really started to get crazy after that. I asked the lady later if she had “Apache” but she didn’t. She seemed kind of sad that she didn’t, too. There were a couple of little stumbles with the music after that but, for the most part it was a pretty good selection. “Love Shack” played and, of course, everyone sang along. There were one or two Britney Spears songs that were picked, which I could have done without, but other than that the music remained pretty up. It was fascinating when ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” started up and everyone was really excited. Which just goes to show you the mass appeal of a Swedish pop band from the 70s.
The Jedis that we were standing near -who were all probably in their late 40s – were starting to take on the roles of being the life of the party. There were a couple of older women up near the stage and they started dancing with the Jedi. At one point, things got a little disturbing as one of the women kind of humped and faux-spanked one of the Jedi. I’m sure there’s video somewhere on someone’s camera phone but – thankfully – not on mine. They must have inspired some thoughts in other people, though, because a couple that had, until then, simply been slow-dance grinding on each other decided it was time to do an uninhibited, drink-induced floor show, complete with gyrations, writhing and culminating in the woman repeatedly jumping up and wrapping herself around the guy’s torso. I swear she thought he was a stripper pole

At one point in the beginning of the evening I talked Maggie into doing a little oompa dance schtick…basically standing in one place, bending at the knees, with me going up while she crouches down and vice versa. All this was done in time to Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen.” Apparently the Jedi guys loved it.

Speaking of, they each had one of those awesome lightsabers that, when lit, look pretty much like the real thing. You know, the kind you can actually use for dueling, provided you don’t hit people with them like a Mack truck. They each lit them up and were waving them around. If we were in the habit of taking E I’m sure it would have looked a bit like a rave. We subscribe to clean Jedi living, though, so I was mesmerized by the lights like your normal, everyday toddler.

The party had finally kicked off and was going well…until the Sith entered.

Or, at least, that was our thought. It was actually kind of interesting, the moment they entered the room. The lights were all pretty much off inside the room where the party was (I think there might have been one light on low in the whole room, with most of the light drifting in through the open door) so you’d think that nobody would have really noticed when they came in. I suppose that’s why every single one of them lit up their red and orange lightsabers as they came through the doors.

The room’s reaction was pretty cool. So far as I could tell, every head in the room turned and there were murmurings and groans as the Sith lords filed into the room. I remember someone saying “There goes the party.”

The Sith circled around, past the tables, and up past where Maggie and I were standing, heading towards the stage. They lined up on one side, facing the Jedi guys who had been up near the stage already. Everyone had their sabers out and lit, and it was clear that – right at that moment – the Jedi in the front were outnumbered by the Sith. They just stood there for a few moments, facing off against each other, seemingly waiting for an attack. I really wish I could have gotten a picture of it.

I’m honestly not sure how long they stood like that. Or, for that matter, who had the bright idea to cross the lightsabers and have people limbo underneath. All I know is it was a great idea. I was the second or third person to dance underneath them. I didn’t limbo…the combined amount of Sith and Jedi meant you had to limbo for about three feet before you could stand back up. I did, however, perform some wacky dance moves as I wandered underneath. That I was still short enough to get under them easily while wearing my heels (and not crouching too much) just goes to show you how short I am compared to most other Jedi cosplayers.

I was quite impressed at the contortion abilities of most of the folks engaged in Lightsaber Limbo. It was like they just disjointed their knees and hips and scuttled underneath. It was also kind of interesting to see the variety of folks participating. Very few Star Wars costumed people went through but I think that’s mainly because most of them were already holding up the lightsabers to begin with. I remember Flo, from the Progressive commercials, going through and, if the lighting in the back of the photo were better you’d probably be able to see me standing at the far end of the limbo line.

One of the interesting additions to Lightsaber Limbo was the addition of “punishment” for those who were unable to complete their run through the line. If you fell or touched one of the lightsabers, or tried to use your hands, the Jedi and Sith would “stab” you with their lightsabers. Now, don’t get alarmed…they weren’t jabbing people hard. Just touching the tips of the lightsabers to the fallen individual’s torso.

And laughing maniacally. Then again, most of us in the crowd were laughing hysterically, too.

I assumed that the Sith were the ones to come up with this idea. According to Maggie, though, “our side” did it first. Apparently the first one to do it also seemed to get a fair amount of glee from it, too. Gotta love that Jedi sense of brotherhood. 😉 Although our side started the administering of the business end of the lightsabers the Sith quickly joined in the fun. I think most of them enjoyed it more than they probably should.

By the way, the Sith lord with the spiky blonde hair quickly became my favorite. I told Maggie that I have never been so attracted to a bad guy. She seconded my assessment. Don’t know why, he was just awesome.

The big group of Sith stuck around for about a half an hour before heading out in search of other party fun. People cheered as they walked past, though not because they were leaving.

Despite the loss of the Sith, the Jedi in the front of the room continued to bring the funk to the party. They whooped it up with everyone, stepping in to get people moving on the dance floor when the excitement occasionally slowed down a bit. At one point “We Like to Party” came on. You might remember it as the theme for Six Flags. I started dancing appropriately. I saw Lando smoozing his way through the crowd quite a lot, acting much like I imagine the original character would – were he to land in the midst of a party full of Star Wars crazed geeks at a convention.

A couple of times Maggie or I were mistaken for the dj. I think it was largely to do with the area of the room that we had staked out as ours. Our bags were originally set over behind a table, right next to the sound equipment – the laptop and sound board, not the speakers. Eventually we relocated the bags…and the subsequent costume bits that came off as the room got warmer. Nothing too risque. We just needed to take off the outer robe and our utility belts. At one point, my boots joined the ever growing pile, for which my feet were incredibly grateful.

As the evening wore on we saw an ever changing crowd of folks stop by the party. The afore-mentioned Yoshi (from con report #3) came in with his MarioKart partner and proceeded to wow the crowd with is breakdancing abilities. This guy was truly fantastic. Not only was he a fabulous breakdancer, he was doing the entire thing in a full Yoshi costume! He would spin around on his giant Yoshi head and flip around and land perfectly on his feet. It’s no surprise that the whole crowd eventually ended up shouting “Yoshi! Yoshi! Yoshi!” I wasn’t able to find a video of his performance at the Alderaan party, but I did find a video that’s got a couple of clips of him dancing in the impromptu breakdance battle that took place at one point out in the side of one of the Marquis lobbies. He doesn’t start dancing until about the 1:48 mark, but I would encourage you to watch the whole video. It’s got some great shots of the many wonderful costumes we saw throughout the weekend.

Eventually, it came time to make our exit from the party. We knew the next day was going to be absolutely bonkers, what with the masquerade and all the other craziness that was bound to happen. We gathered our stuff, I said goodbye to our fellow Jedis, and we headed back to the Buckhead Hotel with wonderful memories of a crazy good time.

Although we were only at the party for about two hours the whole experience takes up a large part of my Dragon*Con memories. This con report has been the hardest to write simply because it’s been difficult for me to accurately sum up what the atmosphere in the room was like. Yes, at first it was kind of like an 8th grade dance but when things finally got started it was unlike any party atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been to my share of Halloween parties that included an impromptu dance party. This wasn’t what that was like. Yes, there were people in costumes. Fabulous, wonderfully detailed costumes. But it went beyond your average Halloween party.

Maggie and I keep using the word “crazy” to describe it, but it’s not like people were walking around licking banthas or anything like that. Just imagine a big gathering of usually introverted geeks (some of them better socialized than others) dressed up in costumes that make them feel confident, getting the chance to let loose on the dance floor without the fear of being mocked for…you know…getting dressed up and dancing on a day other than Halloween.

Suffice it to say the Alderaan party, like much of Dragon*Con was inclusive and welcoming.

And a bitchin’ good time.

Oh, and on a side note: The party going on in the picture to the right here was known by most as “the walking party.” Basically what happened was there were two guys walking around out on the streets, one of whom had two giant speakers tied to his back. The music blared, emitting a bass line loud enough that I could feel my own rib cage vibrating, across the street from them. They would just walk along down the sidewalk in the area around the host hotels and people would follow along. They’d stop in an open area for a while and dance and carry on and then move on. Apparently this went on for a while until the cops showed up, at which point everyone in the crowd scattered in seconds, like cockroaches in the light. Ordinarily I’d consider this something odd. At a weekend event that boasts 24 hour partying it doesn’t surprise me.

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