The first rule of any convention: ALWAYS show up the night before. Regardless of fandom or host company, if there’s a pre-registration, that’s where you want to be. In the case of Gallifrey One, Thursday night’s unofficial gathering is affectionately known as “Lobby Con,” where fans gather to get to know one another. A special quirk of Gallifrey One is the handing out of badge ribbons, and Lobby Con is a great place to build your collection! Fans have badge ribbons made up with various quotes and inside jokes (“Let’s Do The Time War”, “I Voted Saxon”, and “50 Years in Time and Space” were among those I received), then pass them out (either selectively or to any attendee who crosses their path). Even a baffled staff member at the hotel next door received one. Collections can turn into Tom Baker-esque scarves…or even full skirts!
This was my first cosplaying experience at a convention. I came bearing three costumes (one for each day), convinced that I had gotten carried away…until I learned that many people have enough to change their costumes three times daily! Costumes range from attire purchased in thrift shops to elaborate, personally made frocks. Female versions of male characters are common, Tom Baker era scarves and Matt Smith fezzes abound, and scenes from the show are re-enacted for photo ops. Every now and again, a character from another genre film or series will appear; I spotted one Marty McFly, a Malcolm Reynolds, and a couple of Starfleet officers.
Some fans get particularly creative with cosplay. One Weeping Angel showed up with a baseball glove and a Los Angeles Angels uniform and cap. A group of hippies lobbied to “Save the Starwhales”…a creature enslaved in a single episode of Doctor Who. One man came bearing an “Occupy Gallifrey” protest sign. People often dress as the TARDIS itself, and steampunk revisions of screen costumes are not unheard of.
Then there’s the TARDIS room. Brought across state lines by a convention-goer, it sits in a room by itself, awaiting hordes of fans who want pictures with a replica of the Doctor’s famous time-traveling ship. Celebrity signatures adorn the inside walls; Sylvester McCoy (the 7th Doctor) entered the TARDIS unannounced to make his mark on it as fans eagerly snapped pictures.
And then there’s the Daleks. Electronically controlled and voiced by their handlers, they walk around the convention, posing for photographs, barking threats at passersby, and, of course, attempting to exterminate attendees. Friendlier robots traverse the halls as well; the appearance of mechanical dog K-9 created havoc when spotted by a real dog, who immediately began to bark. Like the Daleks, K-9 is given a voice; when I went to pet it while dressed in my Oswin Oswald costume, it accused me of being a Dalek!
The convention was packed, and next year promises to be just as big; 2014 is Gallifrey One’s 25th anniversary. Tickets go on sale March 8.
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