When many people think of furry conventions, they think of fursuits with their flashy colors, animal faces, and lots and lots of fur! Whether toony or realistic, fursuits are the most noticeable and vibrant aspects of furry conventions. They are walking, talking (or squeaking) art, most of which costs upwards of thousands of dollars. Plus, they’re downright adorable.
But it’s not all fun and games for fursuiters. Between the heat of all the fake fur, poor vision and walking around wearing basically clown shoes for feet, things can quickly go bad for them. This is why it’s up to us non-suiters to be aware of fursuiters and know how to act around them. Here are just a few tips to help you get ahead in interacting with fursuiters.
When it comes to packing for conventions there are usually two mindsets: the people who started packing two months ago and the people who start packing two hours before their flight. With only weeks before the convention, no matter which you are it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to take with you.
Some of these are going to be basics that you should take for any long term trip away from home; others convention specific items. Since this is a furry blog, there will be some furry specific items that you should consider taking as well.
And I don’t mean the cat. Take the cat out of the luggage.
Anthrocon’s panel and events schedule has been released, so what better time to start thinking about what you’ll be doing at conventions. Some people come to conventions just to hang with friends, but for most of us there are a lot of panels and other events to do and see. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially when there are multiple events that you want to be at happening at the same time. Time travel is not permitted at conventions, so you’ll need to learn how to schedule yourself.
“Con crud.” You’ve probably heard of it, and if you’re not careful you’re probably going to get it. People love to share hugs at conventions, but they also love to share their germs too. That door handle you’re going to touch? At least two hundred other people probably also touched it in the past hour and any ten of them could be sick.
You need to take care of your body while you’re busy having fun. It can get very easy to skip meals, skip showers and even skip sleeping altogether. If you’re not careful, you might end up with a very bad post-con. Continue reading “Road to Anthrocon: Staying Healthy”
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of getting prepared to physically go to a convention, it’s time to mentally prepare ourselves. For some of you this might be the first time that you’re going far away from home. Or it may be the first time in a social setting with many people of varied backgrounds and beliefs. Furries are a vibrant and colorful fandom, and when we get together at conventions we can really let our true selves show. For some that can be a bit overwhelming.
My first convention was a bit of a culture shock, but yours doesn’t have to be. These are just a few of the things that you may see and experience at the convention. None of these are intended to spook you, only to give you a heads-up of what to expect.
Hotel room? Check. Registered for your convention of choice? Check. Now how are you going to get there? You could walk, but it might take a while. Don’t even bother with hitchhiking; that never ends well even if you’ve brought your towel.
If you are within walking distance to the convention or live nearby, then you probably have this part already handled. But for the rest of us, conventions require a serious hike. Many people travel not just across country to go to popular conventions, but across the globe. Whether by road, rail or sky, each method of travel to the convention has its pros, cons and pitfalls.
Even before you plan for what panels to go to, who you’re going to see, or figure out where the bar is, one of the first things that you need to do when going to a convention is to figure out where the heck you are going to room.
Three years ago I up and decided to go to Anthrocon for the first time just a whole two weeks before the actual convention. Not the dumbest decision of my life, but I was totally unprepared! If it wasn’t for friends bailing me out and offering me a room, I would’ve been completely in over my head. But I had a blast anyway and since then I’ve been to Anthrocon again and other conventions as well.
While I’m still new compared to many who have been going to conventions for years, I’ve had to learn a lot in a short period of time. As I prepare for my third Anthrocon, I want to pass on what I’ve been learning to convention goers new and old.
Hi there! I’m Inkblitz; writer, spottycat extraordinaire and all around goofball. And I’m proud to be a furry!
But I wasn’t always.
I entered the furry fandom for the first time somewhere along its awkward phase, a couple years before the dreaded CSI episode came out. Which worked out, because I was also in my awkward phase at the time. For a few years we were awkward together; I was trying to figure out who I was while dodging bullies and hormones, and the furry fandom was still trying to figure out what it actually wanted to be.
It was a pretty different fandom back then; no one was really sure how seriously they wanted to take the entire thing. It was far smaller and much less connected. Going to conventions was for people who were well off, really good at art or lived nearby. Yet for some furry was becoming a way of life, and others were actually beginning to use it as a means to make a living. For me, it was a place where I could make some real friends away from my home town. It just also happened to have cute and curvy werewolf ladies.
For my teenage self who couldn’t quite get the hang of high school, it was like a second home.
Sadly, my first dip into the furry fandom didn’t last long past graduation. The CSI episode came out a year before I graduated and painted the furry fandom in an ugly and uncomfortable light. The articles from popular magazines that followed didn’t help either. It quickly lead to a lot of awkward questions that I didn’t want to answer. The fandom had been made a public laughing stock and things became turbulent and uncertain. Before, it had been sort of a private club for the awkward and creative people, but now the cool kids found the clubhouse and were TPing it every Friday night for fun.
Being the naive teenager I was, I believed the stories. I became ashamed to be a part of the fandom. But before I could fully decide where I stood, life hit me upside the head with a frying pan and made the choice for me. I became pretty lost for a while, and left the fandom and most of my internet friends.
Cut to ten years later. I somehow got myself involved in the My Little Pony fandom and was running a Rainbow Dash roleplay twitter account with upwards of 30,000 followers. I was a bit more mature and secure in who I was— which was someone who didn’t want to fully grow up. As my attention began to wander from the MLP fandom, The Gneech suggested that I should check out the furry fandom again. It took some wheedling, but between him and the encouragement of long time furry friends, I drove down to Anthrocon in Pittsburgh to check out the fandom first hand.
What I found surprised me in a very good way. In the time that I had been away, the Furry Fandom had discovered itself way better than I could have ever imagined. Thanks in part to the likes of people like Uncle Kage, the fandom had gone from wandering from place to place, struggling to keep itself together, to settling down as the connected, supportive, friendly and very open-minded fandom that it is today. The fandom had picked itself up and dusted off the grime that had been slung at it. It got a haircut, put on a decent (fuzzy and colorful) suit and brought itself up as something presentable and altogether awesome.
But underneath all the media coverage, that’s what it had always been.
The media likes to paint a dark, grim and deviant picture on just about anything if you let them. After all, who wants to watch optimistic news stories about a growing, yet slightly unusual, supportive community that helps each other out? In the early years of the furry fandom, the media only wanted to focus on what would create the most drama and bring them the most profit. Instead of looking at the positive influence that the fandom could be, they focused squarely on the smallest and dirtiest part of it and spread it all over furry’s image.
It has taken a long time, but furry has been cleaning that sludge off, and underneath was something bold, friendly and familiar. Going to Anthrocon that year almost felt like coming home again.
To me, the furry fandom was and is a safe haven for the people who just didn’t quite fit in. We’re the misfits, the emotional, the colorful, the ones bored of the doldrums of everyday humanity. A lot of us are the ones who tended to be the outcasts in school; the nerds, the geeks, the people who just didn’t match up to what the other kids thought was ‘cool.’ The furry fandom welcomed us with open arms, and let us have a place where we could be ourselves among other creative people. It showed us that normal was just an idea, and it was okay that we didn’t fit into anyone else’s vision of it.
We weren’t the first people to question the idea of ‘normal,’ and we certainly aren’t going to be the last. As a teenager, I didn’t understand how important that was. Instead, it felt like the fandom had been forced out of the shadows before it was ready. It stumbled and hesitated in front of the microphone, but instead of diving right back behind the curtains, the furry fandom composed itself and stepped out into the spotlight with a flourish.
It stepped up to look the camera right in the lens and say, “We know you think we’re weird, and we don’t care. Want to join us?”
And that’s why I am now proud to be a furry once again.
The Anthrocon conbook is a valuable resource for finding or promoting talent and services within the fandom. Freely available to all convention attendees and frequently kept as a souvenir, conbooks reach a wide audience of dedicated fans. There is no compensation for artwork or stories submitted to the conbook, but the extremely focused nature of its audience makes being accepted into a conbook one of the few cases where doing a project “for exposure” actually makes sense.
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