I went to my first con in 18 months!
Before the pandemic started, the the last con I went to was Katsucon in February of 2020. All my events for the remainder of that year were canceled and I wasn't sure when I would be able to visit a fandom event in person again.
Earlier this month, I finally broke the stagnation with a small gaming convention called Carolina Games Summit, held in the Raleigh (NC) convention center over the weekend of August 7th 2021.
I cosplayed on two of the three days, did a panel on my book, judged a costume contest, and generally tested the waters on what a convention appearance would be like during a pandemic. The con had a face mask mandate which I gladly followed the entire weekend (although I did encounter a number of people who didn't wear masks). It was a chill event, hardly comparable to the huge 100,000 shows I had visited in the past. But a small con was exactly what I needed after quarantining for the better part of 18 months.
The best part of the weekend was hanging out with cosplay friends and getting to do the whole show with them as guests. I can't believe how long it's been since we saw each other!
I definitely had to relearn some the routines that used to come so natural to me, such as getting up 3 hours before I had to be somewhere in costume (I forgot how much I hate rushing through getting ready lol), or how to pace myself while wearing heels all day long.
But the weirdest experience was perhaps wearing a face mask while in costume.
Of course I've worn masks throughout the entirety of the pandemic, but I also hardly ventured out except for errands and special occasions, which meant only having to wear a mask in public for a few hours at a time.
Going to a convention meant wearing a face mask for 12+ hours per day for 3 full days, and I realized halfway through day 2 how much I was neglecting my water and food intake because of the face mask lol.
I'll be honest, I struggled with keeping a mask on while wearing a costume and wig, not only because of the added stuffiness but also the impossible conundrum of cosplay makeup. If you wear makeup all over your face, it will become a mess under the mask. If you only wear makeup on the top half, when you inevitably have to remove the mask to eat or drink, it looks... weird. At least I had the foresight to make a mask that matched the two costumes I wore so the photos we took were kinda cute.
HOWEVER, I will gladly continue to wear a mask while cosplaying at cons versus the much more horrible option of not having cons at all while we still battle through the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you plan to go to a convention this year, get vaccinated - it protects you and those around you. And wear a mask, it's most likely required by the event anyway.