This is quite a detailed log. In short: Feeling at home, making new friends, and seeing old friends, some again and some for the first time, is what makes this place so special. When I came home, I felt so bored... It shows me what feeling free, and being comfortable with myself, is really like, and that's hard to find for me. Afterwards, I missed everyone so much.
I boarded a bus mid-day Thursday, one which I had never taken nor knew existed, to Philadelphia, and then took another bus to Baltimore. I’m not one to leave my house much, and even the unusual sensations of a downtown city and the shuffling of hundreds of people around me, gave me a slight sense of wonder and adventure, and it’s interesting how to all of these strangers on the street, the city is utterly mundane.
Stepping off the bus in Baltimore, this pony weekend finally began. I walked by myself to the hotel, where my friend DormantFlame graciously allowed me to share his room. We’ve known each other for a few years, and to meet in person for the first time was quite exciting. He was very much like he is online, a silly and funny guy who likes to make his friends smile. We then walked to the convention center to obtain our badges.
We spent some time wandering around the harbor area looking for a place to eat and, since I didn’t know what I was doing, we sat at a closed Johnny Rocket’s for a while. We met up with and our friend Legal Brief, outside, and it was wonderful to see them, as I hadn’t seen them since last year. We re-entered the convention hall and ran into and others in a crowd, I assume after setting up their vendor tables. Some of us went to the Cheesecake Factory and ate, served by a particularly friendly though stressed-out waitress. I recall talking about Civ V and Overwatch and movies I hadn’t seen. We stayed in there for a while, until past closing, and then afterwards Dormant and I split off and headed back to our hotel. We didn’t bring much to do in the hotel like games or anything, but it was still really nice to just chill and talk with a friend in a room. A lot of times, that’s even better. Friday
The next morning we woke up around 9 AM and got breakfast from the hotel. Then we walked through the city back to the convention center, where Bronycon had ‘truly’ opened, and it was full of people and cosplays, with a long vendor hall line. I spent a lot of time this weekend vaping while dragging Dormant outside with me. The vendor hall opened shortly after we arrived. We entered it and walked around the entire right side, checking out everything for sale. Then around noon, Dormant and I split up, and I went to watch a panel on how to ‘GM in Equestria’, about tabletop games. I wasn’t able to be there long, but I did hear him talk about how letting your players be free to make the story and make their own choices is always desirable, and I nodded internally. After about ten minutes of that panel, our friend MidwestB
arrived on the light rail nearby, having travelled from Minnesota to get here. He’d never been to Bronycon either, like Dormant. So Dormant and I met up again to greet Midwest at the train stop. Midwest has always been very protective of showing himself during his livestreams, so none of us knew what he actually looks like. But I don’t know why, as in person he is super nice, and his personality and manners reminded me of a professor, or teacher.
We dropped off Midwest’s items in the hotel room, and then travelled back to the vendor hall where the three of us continued exploring the left side of the vendor hall, until we’d seen everything. That day in the hall, we got to say hi to many artists and artisans and friends, like and probably many more. I’m unreasonably shy and I tend to only say hi to people that I have talked to before or know in some way. At some point Dormant and Midwest and I went to get Subway, and we talked about the cheese wars. Later on we were annoyed by some evangelical christian guys telling us about how we’re going to hell. I talked to them about the meaning of life for about 100x longer than I should have.
Then we went to see Tara Strong answer questions for a while. After that we wandered around the convention center a while, looking at the arcade and various rooms, I showed Dormant and Midwest what the con center was like. We also discovered a huge room in the basement which had a million boardgames to play and food and tables and an open-mic style event. We didn’t get a chance to hang out in there and play stuff, but it would’ve been a good place to spend time. And I don’t think many people knew that this room existed, I certainly didn’t.
After the vendor hall closed we joined up with a group eating at Kona Grill, and we sat with and Dormant and Legal Brief, and I bought the wrong kind of sushi and we watched speedruns of Pepsi Man, which is an ideal night. Then we went to AssassinMonkey’s art panel, where he talked about what inspires and motivates him to draw, his habits and ways of looking at the world artistically. After that it was quite late, probably about midnight, and I think Dormant and Midwest and I wandered around the convention center one last time, we spent some time in a room full of bean bags just drawing, but that was making me really sleepy. But it was also awesome. And then we went back to our hotel room to sleep.
The next morning, Saturday, we woke up and had breakfast in the hotel again. Then we walked to the convention center, where we went to see Kenishra’s panel on creating cosplays. It was pretty enlightening especially since I don’t know how to sew or make any kind of clothing. We went to the vendor hall afterwards, and on Saturday we said hi to a few more people, and FinnishAnon (finnishanon.tumblr.com/) . Cigitia took a photo of us, which was great, because we probably wouldn’t have done that ourselves, and I’ll treasure that forever. I bought some woodcut ponies and gave them out to a few folks. Then we went to see *all* of the voice actors doing a radio play, which was probably the best convention panel I’ve ever seen. It was an entire episode, written by Tabitha St. Germain (Voice of Rarity), performed in all the character’s real voices, and it was hilarious and amazing. That alone was worth the ticket price.
After that we played some Rocket League, well, I did. Sadly we couldn’t do 2v2, only 1v1. So it was less fun for the three of us. But we play that online a lot, so it was cool to play or watch in person. I met some folks outside while vaping, too. After this the three of us joined up with Darkflame, Kawaiipony, and Finnishanon, and ate at the Pratt St. Alehouse. It was nice, though we ate exactly when the baseball game was ending, so it became incredibly loud in there for a while.
After eating, we headed back to the convention center, and spent some time drawing in one of the quiet side-rooms, and talking about art software and technique, with Dormant, Darkflame, KawaiiPony, and MidwestB. I kept trashing my pictures since I didn’t like them. But looking back, this little hour of drawing and quiet chatting was probably my favorite time of the convention. I drew some random things on cards:
After that we went to see the Shattered Kingdoms game dev panel (alicorngames.tumblr.com/) which looked pretty sweet. I liked the art in it, despite them saying that the art assets had to be re-done. A giant Twilight Sparkle plush fielded many questions.
Dormant, Midwest and I wandered around the convention center a little more, checked out some Rock Poetry and karaoke downstairs at some point. We visited Bronypalooza which wasn’t playing any music I really enjoyed, unfortunately. Then we sat around upstairs doodling, until about midnight. At the end of the night, we went to a big drawing session upstairs that spilled out of it’s room and into the cafeteria area, and a few dozen artists were there just sharing sketches. We weren’t able to stay very long though and were super tired, so we left a few hours early. But there I met . I know there was many others there, but I was kinda socially drained by this point and sleepy.
The three of us went back to our hotel after this long day, and I pretty much passed out immediately. It’s impossible to get a full night of sleep at bronycon!
The next morning, after breakfast, we said a heartfelt farewell to our friend Midwest who had to catch a taxi to the airport at 9:15 am. Then it was just Dormant and I. We went back to the convention center and the vendor hall for one last shopping run. I purchased a Pinkie Pie plush for Dormant and bought a print from WhiteDiamonds and JohansRobot, I won a button from Bobdude0 who also sold the most amazing Sweetie Belle blanket, and gave Braeburned a little woodcut braeburn. I tend to not buy very much at the vendor hall, I feel guilty about that. This year, I had no easy way to transport stuff. Dormant and I hung with Darkflame most of the time and helped him vend and also got some food for him and Silfoe and AssassinMonkey too. It took us a while though as we walked through downtown Baltimore looking for a Panera Bread that existed on google maps, but did not exist in real life. But we did find a nice fried kitchen and got sandwiches and cheesesticks. Dormant and I talked about computer memory at this fried chicken place, I can’t remember why. The server was very nice.
Dormant was pretty much a constant source of silly but genius ideas and a fountain of puns. Which was nice, especially while drawing, since I’ve always wanted to try drawing with a fountain pun.
When the vendor hall closed, Dormant and I went to our room and just recharged for a while, I took a short nap. Then we went to Hard Rock cafe since some of our friends were there, but the wait was too long, so Dormant and I ate at the bar. Then we met up with Darkflame, Silfoe, AssassinMonkey, Kenishra, Xeno, Gremlin Grenade, and Legal Brief, and walked along the harbor, got some ice cream at Rita’s. Dormant and I obtained some alcohol and then we all watched some horrible anime together. I got pretty drunk while watching probably every episode of Neko Sugar Girls, and I don’t remember much of the remainder of the night. Though I do remember talking to during a huge get-together in the Hilton lobby, and we talked about art techniques and he gave me an amazing Big Mac sketch that I’ve put on my wall. Monday
I think I was too drunk to draw anything :/ . I hope I wasn’t rude to anyone. I woke up feeling super guilty, but that’s normal for drinking for me. I’m not sure if we were down there for ten minutes or two hours… Anyway, I blame Neko Sugar Girls. Then Dormant and I walked back to our hotel at like 4:30 AM, to sleep.
Monday morning, we woke up and I felt pretty awful! But happy. Then we went to look for a place to get breakfast and joined up with Xeno, Kenishra, Legal Brief, and
at an Irish pub called Tir Na Nog or something. Then we sat around charging phones and looking at sunglasses and candy, until we joined with Darkflame, Silfoe, AssassinMonkey and their friend Luke for additional food and coffee. During this, Legal Brief had to catch his flight, and Dawnfire had to head to the train station, and it was sad to see them go. Then we went to Barnes and Nobles for even more coffee and books. I drank too much coffee and got sick for like a day. But it was worth. We all walked back to the Hilton and sat around for a short time, and then Dormant had to get his car to leave because his parking was up, and my train was about to arrive, so in a teary-eyed farewell we left our friends and walked back to the hotel room. Dormant drove away with Pinkie in his passenger seat, and I walked to the train station for a boring ride, full of reflection and reminiscence, and I felt really happy, as I always do when I leave this amazing place.
There was some things I think could be better about Bronycon. For instance, I went to the vendor hall hoping to buy a laptop-style bag and a t-shirt. Though there was very little of this available. I’m sure there are economic reasons why this is the case. Bronypalooza, which I used to love, I feel has diverged from the heartwarming early music, including MLP voice remixes. In other words, I want to go into a rave environment and hear Pinkie Pie screaming songs at me for six hours, but it didn’t feel that way this year, and this was the first year I didn’t dance in that hall. I always wish there was more ponies around, involved in the arcade area, in the hallways, in the concert, pony themed food shops and grills, et cetera. But there are rules against it I’m sure. And if I wanted that, I should have brought my horse mask and a speaker so I could bring those insane elements to the con for myself.
In the end, the convention is whatever you make of it. I went hoping to meet up with old friends, some I’ve known for almost five years, and have never seen… Which is exactly what we did, and that itself was incredible. Being at Bronycon has always really been about one thing: Friendship. And for a lot of people, myself included, this remains a safe place to be yourself and see great friends and maybe make new ones. If only it wasn’t only one weekend long!