Intercon O Post Event Report: Part VIII — Party On

To end my series of posts on Intercon O, I wanted to share a few of the non-LARP, non-panel/presentation/workshop things happening at the convention. (Just in time for the post Intercon O/first Intercon P meeting this Sunday.)

Seen floating around con suite… possibly in support of pink ponies for the theme of Intercon P?

As I briefly mentioned in previous posts, on Thursday night, I hung out with a small crowd in one of the suites after the last PreCon panels had ended. On Friday evening, I chatted and danced with other Interconners in a function room lit with black lights where a very well decorated cyberpunk LARP had just run, before heading off to a party in a hotel suite. On Saturday night, I stopped by the Intercon party with the intention of dancing a few dances and heading off to another room party, but the music was so good and over by the water, the conversation was flowing, so I ended up hanging around there until ridiculous-o’ clock in the morning.

And on Sunday, after con wrap, I went to dinner with a small crowd, then back to the hotel to hang out in hotel suites. There’s a small group of veteran Interconners who do this post-Intercon hanging out every year. This was my first year sticking around after con wrap. It’s a much better way to close out the weekend, I think, and I’m planning to stick around on Sunday at future Intercons as well. I had some excellent conversations about the LARPs we had played and the current state and future of Intercon, on some of which I’ve made some notes to mention at this Sunday’s concom meeting.

I think the blacklight party was a really cool idea and I’m very grateful to the GMs who hosted it and kept it going even though attendance seemed low. We’ve never done this before, so it’s not as though we had previous experiences on which to base attendance expectations. But I can say for certain that the attendance for the LARP dance on Saturday night — for which we put out a dance floor and have a DJ — has dropped significantly over the past few years.

I can’t complain too much, I suppose — because there were so few people attending (maybe two when I first arrived, around six for most of the time I was there, and maybe 15 at its busiest), when I requested swing music, I promptly got five or six of my favorite swing songs in a row. (Wore me out!) Whatever my requests, the DJ played them right away.

On the other hand, there were a lot of people attending their first Intercon ever (and plenty more who still think of themselves as newbies to the community) and there really isn’t much general socializing in the common spaces to be had at night at Intercon. Almost everyone who is still awake at those hours are in suite parties, which I do love attending, but they are frequently invite-only, and even if they are open to anyone, it’s not easy for newbies to find them or feel welcome at them. The Intercon party is the open event that everyone knows about, and it’s dwindling.

I worry this makes Intercon less newbie friendly than it used to be. One theory I’ve heard for this shrinking is that the suite parties became much more popular as of Intercon K, where we tried a new hotel. The Westin in Waltham failed to notify us of the laws regarding noise levels at night — in order to throw the Intercon party, we would have had to obtain a permit from the city. By the time we found out, it was too late to obtain one, so the Intercon party was cancelled altogether. (Quite frankly, I place the blame for this squarely on the Westin’s shoulders.) People threw hotel room parties instead, which proved to be quite popular, and the numbers for the Intercon party haven’t recovered since.

I think, despite the low levels of interest in the dance, it’s still worth trying to keep around, if only to have a purely social event open to the entire con. The question is, is there a way to make it more inviting and fun so that newbies feel encouraged to enjoy it, and feel like part of the community when they do?

I’ve talked it over with a number of people at various points — most people seem to think there’s no way to make it as popular as suite parties because it can’t involve alcohol. Hotel regulations make it prohibitively expensive (we would need to hire a certified bartender from the hotel), and by contrast, people hosting suite parties offer drinks for free.

We also can no longer really match suite parties for snacks offered. In past years, we’ve had a remarkably generous deal for food with the Radisson Hotel. That is, they’ve let us cater the entire on our own, and we accomplish this through volunteers. This has allowed us to make Intercon a remarkably low cost convention to attend — not only is it much cheaper than most hotel based cons, it also provides meals to con goers. Most hotels will insist that you use their catering, which is where much of their profit for weekend conventions comes from. This year, the Radisson is under new management that no longer wants us to provide our own food, so we worked out a deal where we gave them our food budget (and then some) and they catered the convention. The results were, sadly, a much poorer selection of snacks in con suite. I’m not sure if this can be remedied for the future. (We do have a snow cone machine, though, which has proved popular in at the Intercon party in the past.)

After that, there are other issues to consider (should we turn the music down to make it easier to converse in there? Or turn it up and include colored lighting so that people passing by can tell there’s something fun going on inside? Is there a way to produce more comfortable seating?) If we learned anything from the cyberpunk atmosphere from Friday night’s party, it’s that a themed atmosphere can be fun, but it’s unlikely to be enough to overcome the appeal of suite parties. Con com even asked the hosts of the biggest suite party to start a bit later than usual so that people might consider dropping by the dance party after their last game… which the hosts graciously agreed to, but as far as I know, it didn’t have much of an impact.

Maybe the dance is a lost cause, but I hope the next time it comes up at a con meeting, we’ll have more ideas. In the meantime, I’m still going to pack a dress and heels to dance in.

On a brighter note: the one person who attended my “Make Your Own Banner” workshop recently sent me a picture of another banner he has made for a LARP using the method I went over in the workshop. (He also has plans to make more.)

A Phoenix banner

I think it came out really well! Maybe with the leftover supplies, I can rerun this workshop at one of the Bubble weekends at RPI.


About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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11 Responses to Intercon O Post Event Report: Part VIII — Party On

  1. Stephen Kohler says:

    If this year’s Con Suite is representative of what the new Radisson management is willing to give (sell) us for food, I think Intercon might have just lost one of the best arguments for us to stay there over looking for a hotel/space with more space for games. One of the top arguments for staying at the Radisson was the freedom they granted us to provide food for ourselves.

    • Fair Escape says:

      I agree. I mean, even without the food, we still have a pretty good deal on space (and we as a convention use up a lot more space per person than other conventions), but I’m not sure we can’t get a comparable deal elsewhere once you take the food out of the equation, and we are nearly bursting at the seams.

      I wouldn’t rule out trying to improve the food situation (maybe if we talk to the hotel staff about the issues we had? And we can even afford to toss a little more money at it)… but it was pretty disappointing.

    • Cam OOC says:

      I know that when we did a hotel search for Intercon K we had a very hard time finding any other place with enough space and that would allow us to do our own food (and the food they wanted to sell us was really really expensive).

      • Stephen Kohler says:

        Very few hotels allow groups to bring in outside food, at least, in the quantity that Intercon does. But if the Chelmsford has become one of those hotels, then space becomes the biggest concern, as food is likely to just stink everywhere. Which means that Intercon/NEIL should at least look into space elsewhere and see if we can find anything bigger in terms of useful space. (Although finding somewhere else that can simulate all the function space we use plus Suite space and have more discrete space for games overall is non-trivial)

        • Stephen Kohler says:

          Er, if the Chelmsford has become like other hotels in not letting us bring in food. That wasn’t as clear as it could have been

    • Alon Levy says:

      Does Intercon have to buy food from the hotel? At Anonycon (which, to be fair, is much smaller), people just order food from various places in Stamford, or even walk to the mall. Or is this precisely the “bring our own food” option that the hotel rejects?

      • Jadasc says:

        Intercon has a few differences. Chelmsford is a much smaller city than Stamford, and has correspondingly fewer options. Further, Intercon runs on a pretty strict schedule — almost all the attendees will be available to eat at around the same time, for just about the same amount of time, before having to go to their game. It’s important that food be available for them in sufficient quantity at those precise points or else people will be underfed and cranky at their GMs. Anonycon is, as I understand it, less scheduled.

      • Fair Escape says:

        If Intercon wants to provide meals and snacks for con goers (which we have done until now) I think currently we have to let the hotel cater. I’m sure our hotel liaison will be meeting and talking with them about how this year went and maybe based on that they could offer to change the contract… but I suspect they’re going to want to either cater it or say the convention can’t offer any food.

        Certainly, “all Interconners have to provide their own food, as is typical at most conventions” is a very realistic possibility for the future. It’s a shame, because part of what makes Intercon so special is how affordable it is, both because of the low membership fee and because we fed everyone, but it’s not the most important aspect of the weekend, and I’m sure Intercon’s membership numbers won’t be much affected by it. There are restaurants very close by (and the one inside the hotel, but it’s really not built for the volume of people Intercon brings).

        Me, I bring and eat my own meals to every con, including Intercon, so it’s definitely doable… though I really missed the raw fruit and veggie platters this year and I’m bummed to think they might well be gone for good.

        • Stephen Kohler says:

          I would go further re: the hotel restaurant and say that it is a massive trap; trying to eat in-between two games is almost always going to result in you being late to your next game, which always annoys me. In fact, eating out in general is hard with a LARP convention due to the limited amount of time between games and the very rigid deadlines.

          • Fair Escape says:

            You’d think two hours would be enough, but it seems it often isn’t — you probably need to coordinate with someone who doesn’t have an afternoon or evening LARP to make arrangements for a group. (Like calling ahead/ordering, whatever.) Especially if you have costuming to get in or out of during the dinner break.

  2. Cam OOC says:

    I would love to the dance make a comeback!

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