|Dragon*Con, where the cosplayers|
are real troopers. Courtesy Aaron Sagers
BY KENNEY MYERS
When it comes to fan conventions, it’s not always easy to find the baseline for what’s considered "bizarre."
One of the common elements between most fan conventions is that they’re all a bit strange in their own ways. There are, however, a few conventions that rise above their brethren in terms of strangeness and set the bizarre-bar a bit higher by simply existing.
When it comes to fan conventions specializing in the bizarre, very few enjoy the staggering attendance that’s par for the Dragon*Con course. Roughly 40,000 attendees flood to Atlanta each year for discussion panels and events celebrating everything from Gothic music to comic book culture and canceled science fiction television series. Cosplay is a big part of the event, so it’s not unusual to see obscure cartoon characters hanging out with Steampunk enthusiasts and elaborately costumed fairies.
Star Trek conventions are the stuff of fan convention legend, with dozens of variations on the theme springing up across the country. The Klingon Feast takes the Star Trek obsession one step further by focusing on a single aspect of the Star Trek fandom: the love of Klingons. From lessons in Klingon speech to approximations of Klingon foods, attendees of the Klingon Feast are fully immersed in the culture of Kronos.
Gathering of the Gargoyles
In the mid-1990s, the Disney channel launched Gargoyles, a cartoon that enjoyed a relatively short run before being canceled in 1996. Still, there’s a rabid fan base that remained so dedicated to the show that they attended the annual Gathering of the Gargoyles event from 1997 all the way into 2009.
International UFO Congress Convention and Film Festival
The first International UFO Congress and Film Festival was held in 1991. Over the years, the convention has become the largest annual conference on unidentified flying objects and alien phenomena in the country. From abductees to astrophysicists, there’s no shortage of expert speakers on hand to facilitate discussion and rumination on the touchy subject of alien life forms.
When it comes to bizarre conventions, Anthrocon takes the cake. Dedicated to the interests of humans that are obsessed with anthropomorphic animal characters, Anthrocon is the largest gathering of its kind in the entire world. Held each year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Anthrocon is a celebration of all things awkwardly anthropomorphic.
|2013's LebowskiFest NYC poster|
There are movies that are successful, and then there are those that boast a cult-like following of obsessed enthusiasts. The 1998 Coen brothers’ comedy The Big Lebowski is certainly among the latter, with an entire convention dedicated to celebrating The Dude.
Conventions dedicated to video games are nothing new or particularly unique. BlizzCon sets itself apart from the competition by being a convention that celebrates not just a love of video games, but a particular dedication to the creative minds behind the MMO giant World of Warcraft franchise.
The creators of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic were targeting the young girl demographic and marketing the toy line of the same name. What they probably never expected, however, was a strong community of men from their teen years through young adulthood that would eventually latch on to the franchise. Calling themselves “Bronies,” these bros are unrepentant fans of My Little Pony, and show their dedication by attending the BronyCon.
Calling all unconventional conventionalists! Fans of the camp classic Rocky Horror Picture Show converge at RKOcon to dance the Time Warp and celebrate all things Transylvanian.
These attendees aren’t your average Ariel enthusiasts. MerPalooza is primarily aimed at lovers of the mermaid, but pirates, faeries, belly dancers and anime fans are all welcomed with open arms. Mers come from all over the world to attend what’s billed as “the largest international gathering of mermaids, pirates and those who love them.”
While these fan conventions are nothing short of bizarre for those that aren’t adherents of a particular fandom, it’s important to remember that strangeness is all a matter of perspective. Whether you’re a Brony that’s eager to talk Pony with a room full of fellow enthusiasts or a Sweet Transvestite itching to do the Time Warp with Frank N. Furter and Magenta, there’s a convention out there with your name all over it!