August 3, 2016

Närcon 2016 – Don't duct tape a pipe to your leg and walk

Hello all lovely people!

I'm back home from Närcon and I'll try to write this con summary quick out of the way so yeah, sorry if it's all over the place because I do have a con hangover, hehe... ^^" 

Okay, so Närcon was held on 28-31 July in Linköping, Sweden. As per usual the con was held in Campus Valla and Närcon had most of the university buildings, as well as the outdoor area, in their use. You might remember from my visit to last year's Närcon that they had rigged up a fence around the whole con area that bothered a lot of congoers (even though it was erected to prevent unwanted visitors from coming in and harassing the con attendants) but yeah, the fence was still there this year but I barely took notice of it; it didn't hinder me in any way and I might be wrong but I felt like Närcon maybe didn't fence off "their competitors" (Pressbyrån, McDonald's etc) this year, although I'm not sure since I didn't visit any of those myself. 

Oh well, more about that later, now let's get to the summary!

Pre-con journey

This time our Närcon company consisted of me, Sacchan, Karri and Vicktor. A few days before departure Sacchan's car got some sudden issues and didn't start regularly and yeah, we didn't want to gamble and so we ended up hiring a rental car from Hertz student discount wohoo! Me, Sacchan and Karri ate at Max before leaving for Umeå on Tuesday afternoon. We drove with Sacchan's car to Umeå and then changed to the rental car for the rest of the trip. 
We arrived at Vicktor's later than intended but everything went well and we slept there so that we were fresh and ready to leave for Linköping on Wednesday morning. On the morning Sacchan and Vicktor went to pick up the car from Hertz meanwhile me and Karri stayed at Vicktor's and chilled because yeah, neither of us two have a driving license yet. 
Once we had the rental car in our use, waiting outside the apartment, we stuffed all our con stuff into the trunk and thank god we picked the slightly more expensive option with more luggage space because it really came in handy. We needed all of it. And here I thought we didn't have that much luggage, lol.

We drove in GOD, eff yeah!
Okay, so for anyone interested our rental car happened to be a nice blue Volvo se on työkalu, ei auto of a newer V40 model, if I recall right. It was really nice, smooth to drive (and comfy to sit in!) and modern inside and felt quite luxurious... #couldgetusedtothis

The driving down to Linköping went smoothly, there was no issues except that we accidentally drove past Linköping (aka the point where we had to turn to get there) and had to take a slight detour. We ate at Max in Hudiksvall and boy was there a lot of people there!

Obligatory driving picture. Notice the high af bridge.
We got to Närcon late on Wednesday night and instantly went to pick up our tickets in advance so that we wouldn't have to stand in line on Thursday when the con officially opens. Getting the tickets went smoothly but driving to the camping area proved to be confusing and we ended up just walking there and carrying all our luggage with us instead. Karri-power go go!

Närcon's con band 2016 and the green camping ticket.
I was disappointed that the camping tickets were once again simple and ugly paper tickets, just like in 2013. :c I don't know how it was in 2014 but last year the camping tickets were made of fabric, just like the actual con ticket and that was hella neat.
I heard afterwards online from a person working at Närcon that there were fabric camping tickets available, just that Närcon's information crapped (as always) which means that a lot of people were completely unaware of it, including us. I would have wanted to change my paper ticket because it almost broke already on the second day because the quality was not so good and yeah, I collect fabric tickets and those are 100% nicer anyway. This sucks. :(

Vicktor didn't camp with us but he was awesome enough to help us set up the tent. Our familiar green tent was up in no time and me, Sacchan and Karri crawled in there and prepared to sleep.

Entrance to the camping.

As per usual, when you camp in a tent, you wake up quite sweaty. That's what we did. We got out of the tent and noticed that, much to our disappointment, we hadn't been unique enough in our tent choice...

Fuck, we weren't original! Guess which one is ours, by the way. :'D
Truth is that there was at least five other tents like ours scattered around the camping, and those five we counted were visible from where our tent was standing; we'd probably have found even more tent clones if we had actually gone out properly to locate them, lol. Attack of the clones. Somehow, it was quite hilarious that so many other people had bought the exact same tent. The best tent was still the funny, really tall and narrow yellow tent that we all quickly nicknamed the "banana tent", for a reason. Too bad it moved later and we didn't see it again. *sniff*

One issue that I noticed pretty instantly, once I had settled into the camping, was that Närcon had done a not-so-clever choice on the shower facilities. Last year there were two shower carts (one full for women and one split for men and non-binary people) with at least five showers per 'side' –aka ten per cart– benches to put your bags in etc and yeah, it was quite decent actually. The thing is that, for some stupid reason, this year Närcon only had one single shower cart split with one half for men and non-binary people and the other half shared with women and non-binary people. Oh, and it gets worse! :D You see, this time each 'side' of the cart had only three showers, no benches, a minimum amount of hooks to hang your stuff from, no shelves in the shower to put your soaps on etc and the actual shower was set so that the water only came in one direction and you had nothing to angle the damn thing where you needed it. I'm sorry if my explanation is clumsy but what I mean is that you didn't have one of those usual shower handles with a hose that you can have in your hand but one of those that you just press a button and water comes out and you can't control it at all.
So yeah, the showers went from a decent but still poor approx. 20 showers in total to fucking 6 showers?!?! I don't even want to imagine how many campers there were but yeah, the camping area was filled with tents and it's a big-ass pasture. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more than 1000 people camping, tbh. You can guess if there were horrid neverending shower lines during all reasonable showering times......... and you can also guess who skipped showering every day out of waiting frustrations – me. I showered every second day and even that took a lot of planning.
Another issue is that my fair guess is that many non-binary people aren't comfortable being forced to shower together with either cismen or ciswomen... or with anyone else for that matter. I still wonder why Närcon has not gotten at least a couple private showers for everyone that just can't shower together with strangers, no matter the gender? I mean, Närcon advertises a lot for being "welcoming to everyone" so why is the shower possibilities still so stone age and anxiety-inducing? I would definitely vote for one of those private showers because I am not comfortable showering around others, period.

Oh well, I was supposed to wear my Greece cosplay today but I honestly couldn't be bothered and so I just put on a black yukata and rolled with it. I also want to mention that I decided to leave out my Kazuma Sohma cosplay because he didn't fit in the luggage and the weather was too unstable to risk taking any vintage silk kimonos with me; it would get ruined by water stains.

Of course someone drew the Pokémon Go teams!
I spent the whole Thursday hanging with Sacchan and checking out what the con had to offer. I noticed that a lot of the food courts, vendors etc were placed almost exactly the same way as last year and thus I had a pretty easy time navigating around. I did notice though that, compared to last year, there were more food trucks/courts, which is a good thing because that meant more food options to choose from!

The path leading to C-huset, the main con building.
If you've ever been to a Närcon before you've probably noticed that it has a very different feel from your average Swedish or Finnish con – Närcon is much more like a festival. It has a festival atmosphere to it and feels a bit like you're almost in some other country! Personally I really enjoy the feel that Närcon has because it feels more easygoing, fun and relaxed but with that excitement that festivals have.

A map showing C-huset.
Me and Sacchan got really hungry at some point and so we started scouting for food. We felt like junk food and se we decided on going to the grill at the very end of the "Campus road". It's not owned by Närcon or anything but said grill was kinda cheap and didn't have huge lines so that's where we went. We ended up ordering a pasta kebab dish and sharing it. It was quite interesting.

Pasta kebab! Oh and yeah, that Lemon Fanta was godly.
After eating we continued walking around and checking out the con. I noticed that several sellers were selling the same plushies and items, once again. There were also some vendors outside, although the majority was located in C-huset, aka the main building. I bought a few things but resisted buying anything too expensive because I was pretty low on cash.

Närcon "Campus road", leading away from C-huset.
We found our way to Key-huset, which is quite far away from C-huset. Luckily it still seemed like people found their way there and like the Artist's Alley, which was located in Key-huset, didn't fall into oblivion because of being so far from where stuff was actually happening. Artist's Alley was located much closer to the sleeping accommodations than the "actual con", so to speak.
Nevertheless, Artist's Alley had some really nice stuff for sale this time around. I actually ended up spending more money on AA stuff than on "normal con merch", haha.

These adorable octopus and squid magnets. ;A;
Cute amigurumi figures. Notice Tingle!
More amigurumi figures from the same artist.
I'm really really sorry I lost the little business card with contact information for this one amigurumi store pictured above. I kinda promised I'd advertise for them a little because they were really nice people and had adorable goods for sale. If I find it I will link their store here later! ♥

Otherwise we didn't do anything special on Thursday, it was the "check out the con" day. A couple hours before midnight me and Sacchan got tired and headed back to the camping but what we weren't expecting was that the night was about to be freezing cold. You see, all previous times we've camped during Närcon the nights have been comfy cool but this one night was so damn cold we were shivering and had to almost hug each other to stay warm under the only blanket we shared. I really regretted not taking wool socks, more than one blanket, a mattress to lay on and more pillows. I went to camping thinking "nah, I won't need that shit because it's fucking Närcon in southern Sweden with its heat waves". Oh boy how wrong I was. :)


Friday morning. Toasty morning. I smelled sweat and looked like shit. We all kinda did.
Me and Sacchan woke up before Karri and headed to the con to eat breakfast. After checking for cheap options we decided to go with the crêpes because it only cost 15 SEK. I must admit though that I was bothered that the cafeteria menu said "pannkakor" when it's fucking "plättar". Pannkakor is those thick square ones that you prepare in the oven on a baking sheet and plättar are the thin shits that you make with the frying pan, no matter the size! D:< Why can't people get it right? Ei kukaan Suomessa vittu sano että lätyt ovat pannukakkuja...

Mina fucking plättar med sylt och grädde.
With our stomachs at least some sort of filled we strolled around for a while, waiting for the sun to settle a bit so that it would be bearable to put on cosplays. Yes, it was hot outside. I really have started to gradually be more uncomfortable if I'm overly sweating while in cosplay; it's just gross and makes my makeup look like shit in no time. It does look like shit anyway, lol.

Me and Sacchan headed back to the camping to put on our cosplays, or at least most of them. It was impossible for me to do my makeup inside the tent because it was boiling hot in there and just unbearable. I sloppily put on whatever I could, took my makeup bag and headed back to the con to occupy a toilet and fix the rest of the costume there. Sacchan helped me improvise the eye makeup for my Lugia gijinka because I really had no idea what to do.

Lugia selfie!
Some sort of costume pic...
The more I look at my Lugia costume the more unsatisfied I am with how it currently looks. It's a bit too plain, not as recognizable as I had hoped (no one came to talk to me) and I feel like it was a bit too rushed tbh. I wanted to add some details to it but my gloves didn't arrive until after the con and I didn't have time, space nor money to make accessories that would increase the recognizability. Oh well, I'll upgrade this shit later. *shrugs*

Below are some photos of what the Närcon vendors had to offer this year:

There was a cosplay shop, selling props as well as costumes.
There were at least a couple wig sellers.
A lot of plushies and cute mascots where everywhere.
Don't forget the figurines!
And of course the Pokémon Go hype brought with it
it's own merchandise. Those shirts are hella cool though.
There was a vendor selling vintage kimono, tabi etc.
Notice those ridiculously cute bird wallets.
I was soooo close to buying one. ;_:
Of course there were also pins in loads.
A lot of the vendors were the same or similar to what Närcon was selling last year, so just take a look at my last year's summary to get a more complete view of what the merch diversity was like. ^_^

Närcon had a fair amount of activities, games, rooms for specific communities (Touhou, Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering etc) and there was a lot to do if you wanted to. But because me and Sacchan are simple congoers lazy fucks we enjoy ourselves the best just casually strolling around and watching the cosplayers and whatever happens to be going on where we are. It might sound boring but I find it really enjoyable to not be in a hurry to any panels or scheduled events ~

Sometimes you find silly shit... ~
Of course I saw some familiar faces at the con and met some new awesome people as well. I warmly remember the Touken Ranbu cosplayers and especially the two German peeps who me and Sacchan ended up chatting quite long with. You guys were lovely! ♥
There were quite a bunch of amazing costumes but also funny costumes! We spotted someone who had dressed up as a can of Sprite, pommes frites and a guy dressed in a carrot costume.

There was a MtG tournament...
... and in the MtG room there was a table filled with a fuckton of cards. :D
Friday I spent pretty much the same as Thursday, just walking around and enjoying myself. The problem with Närcon is that because the con area is so big your feet are sure to die. Thankfully I'm aware of this and I brought with me my most comfy shoes along with my cosplay shoes, just to be sure. I still keep thinking that bringing a skateboard or similar would be a great idea to future cons though...

There was a figurine room with Monster Hunter figures!
OMG Angemon and Takeru!!!! ;A;
At C-huset's entrance there was the Bandai Namco gaming booth and desk. There you could try some not-yet-released games, like Tales of Berseria and Tekken 7. I wanted to try ToB but it was always taken when I passed by and I didn't want to stand and wait and stress out the player before me so yeah, I ended up not playing. What I did though was enter Bandai Namco's competition because why the hell not? You could win a Sorey figure (from another Tales of game) and also got some exclusive promo goods for entering!

The backside of Bandai Namco's booth, showing the upcoming games.
Their gaming booth.
The promo goods that I received for entering the competition!
For anyone curious those freebies include an official Tales of Berseria poster, some kind of Naruto metallic decoration plate, Tekken promo cards and a Tales of Beseria candy gum pack, "gels" of course. ;)

Once the clock neared midnight me and Sacchan once again headed back to the camping to sleep while Karri stayed at the rave. Neither of us is much of a rave person so sleeping sounded more interesting to us. Luckily at least this night the tent wasn't as goddamn cold as the previous night but it was still kinda chilly.
Oh and yeah, I can't remember which day this was but while in our tent during the night we overheard some nearby campers talking about duct taping a "pipe" to a guy's thigh. Of course it sounded like something dirty was going on but when Sacchan went outside of the tent (to fill the water bottle, mind you) it turned out that the guy had an actual plastic pipe duct taped to his thigh and seemed like he maybe had to do some kind of challenge and walk with it taped on, to the con. It was funny at the time (not knowing the real reason) but I heard afterwards online that the poor guy was a con worker and had actually broken his leg and used the pipe as a support to be able to walk. I must say that I give all my respects to him and I hope he still had a nice con experience and got his job done. Such determination!


Same thing again. Me and Sacchan woke up but, much to our surprise, noticed that Karri had not come back to sleep! We wondered where the heck he had been because neither of us had heard him entering the tent at any point and his belongings were scattered exactly the same as yesterday – untouched. Oh well, we didn't really worry because the odds of Karri getting beaten up somewhere doesn't really exist, lol. xD So yeah, we continued with our morning procedure, aka fetching something to eat. By the time we had eaten we were stuck in C-huset for a while because it had started raining. I was worried that our tent might have leaked but once the rain almost ceased we headed there and noticed that everything was alright, except that a bit of water had entered my side of the tent because of some unavoidable derps while rigging up the tent.
Because the rain had made the weather cool we thought that it could finally be an idea to put on our cosplays completely inside the tent (so that we wouldn't have to go back and forth) but yeah, as soon as we started it cleared up completely and I felt burning hell returning, fffuuu fffuuu!

I put on my Ibuki cosplay for this day and yes, I know I completely changed the order which I had originally planned to wear my cosplays at. I just went by mood and weather and Ibuki felt like a good choice for Saturday.

Ibukiiiiii ~
Originally I had hoped for an Ibuki photoshoot but then I couldn't be bothered (and all the good photoshoot locations were taken) and so we skipped it. I just chilled around in this costume and photoshooted a couple friends instead.
Fun thing is that at some point I saw a guy who I really thought was Cidi and I was really confused for a while, until I heard him talk fluent Swedish with another guy. I guess Cidi has a Swedish doppelgänger, or at least someone who looked really similar, lol.

These photos show the outdoor area behind C-huset, aka Zen Garden:

One of the exits to the outdoor area.
Notice the funny palm tree decorations hanging.
Comfy hammocks to chill in!
Don't forget the bouncy castle! There's no age limit!
I want to mention that this year Närcon had two Bubbletea sellers, one indoors in C-huset and another one outdoors next to Josbaren – they were both the same company though. What really bummed me out was that a bubbletea cost 50 SEK, which I'm pretty sure is more expensive than both last year and Närcon Vinter this year! What bummed me even more was that there were few flavors to choose from and no matcha milk bubbletea, which is my favorite and the only one I'd be willing to pay 50 SEK for...

People had fun drawing with chalk outdoors!
I also noticed that Närcon had set up signs warning for bootleg and fake merchandise. The problem is that a lot of easily identified as counterfeit goods were still being sold by many vendors. I know that some people don't know the difference but if you've been going to cons for a while and done your research it's not so hard to spot the bootlegs from the real deals. What amused me was that one of the vendor rooms, which only sold fake merch, even tried to put sales on obviously fake Pokémon plushies to get them sold. Clearly most people were knowledgeable enough to stay clear from that shit.

Bootlegs galore! Notice the hilariously bad
Umbreon-Espeon... Espreon... plush. :-DDD
Yes, that's a 2 for 1 sale but tell me, who the fuck would pay a whopping 250 SEK for a fake plush (okay, two of them) anyway?? Fun fact is that when Sunday rolled in and some of the stores put on discounts and sales this one particular store had a big sign at the entrance to the room saying everything inside "take 2 pay for 1", lol. I was legit amused that they were so desperate to get their fakeass shit sold to poor and easily fooled unsuspecting young peeps. Disgusting.

I spent a lot of time checking both mine and Sacchan's StreetPasses!
When we got hungry we decided to try the Japanese food truck. It belonged to a local restaurant called ShinNori, which I knew to be of very high quality. There was constantly a long and slow-moving line to their food court but I must say that the food was worth the wait!

Me and Sacchan shared a portion of marinated yakiniku made
of entrecote and it was delicious.
After wearing Ibuki for a majority of the Saturday I got sick of those leg things falling down all the time; I had forgotten that they partly ripped at the previous con I wore this cosplay to and yeah, forgot to repair them. I didn't want to be completely without a cosplay so I decided to do a quick and very half-assed change to Greece instead. I didn't redo my makeup or anything, just changed the costume, wig and lenses and rolled. It was late enough that no one would care anyway, just a couple hours from midnight.

The aftermath of wearing waraji.
Fun thing is that even though Greece is an incredibly simple cosplay I got more recognition wearing him for 15 minutes than I got wearing Ibuki for 5 hours, lol. It was discouraging and amusing at the same time. I ended up finding a group of Hetalia cosplayers sitting in a circle on the floor and joined them for a moment, although I felt a bit like a misfit because I'm just a casual fan and a bit too old for the jokes. It was fun though because when they spotted me everyone just lit up and shouted something, almost in unison, like "OMG A GREECE COSPLAYER! NEVER SAW ONE BEFORE! COME HERE AND HANG WITH US!". :'D So yeah, we hung with them for a while and then when the group split up we went to the Pokémon Gaiden room and hung there until we got tired, playing some Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate together with Sacchan.

Shitty bathroom selfie feat. Sacchan.
The Pokémon Gaiden room was where we spent the nights chilling. There was always some peeps there playing battles together but me and Sacchan just went and sat in a corner playing MonHun. Fun thing is that I met those peeps in there who played Monster Hunter with me last year in the cafeteria! Even better is that one of the guys cosplayed Jesus. He's now my MonHun Jesus.

Pokémon Gaiden's poster at the door.
Inside Pokémon Gaiden. It was comfy!
Before going to sleep we quickly checked out the rave party outside C-huset. It seemed like people were on a roll but we two were too tired and didn't feel like dancing in the cold so we went to sleep. I'm just not a dance person anyway.

People were raving wild.

The last con day. We woke up late-ish and had to wake up Karri, who was sleeping like a log. It felt a bit bad to wake him up because he stayed up late and raved all night and came to sleep only a few hours before we had to wake up. The thing is that we didn't really have much of a choice because the camping closed 10:00 (local time) and the camping site had to be completely emptied 12:00 at the latest. So yeah, we took down our tent, Vicktor drove to the camping site with the car and we loaded the trunk with our mountain of luggage.
One fun thing though was that on Sunday morning it was quite windy and one of the guys next to us (he cosplayed Misty, Man-Misty) had his tent literally blowing away with the wind and he chased after it like a madman – I really had to keep my pokerface in check because it looked hilarious. xD

Camping sign saying when everybody had to leave.
Before leaving the con me and Sacchan wanted to go and fetch something to eat.. or at least to drink. I really wanted a Donkey Kong drink from Josbaren but, once we had stayed in the line for like 10 minutes, a con worker came and told everyone waiting that there were only Ganondorf drinks left. She also said that because of a lack of ingredients the remaining drinks would be on an experimental run because not all of the ingredients for Ganondorf were available.
So yeah, me and Sacchan gave up our hopes on Donkey Kongs and went inside C-huset instead to get something to drink for free. Närcon kåsa ftw. The con was closing in like 10 minutes so we did some speedruns to a few shops and I bought a face mask and a pin. I also bought some packs of mochi because during the last minutes there was a half price discount on them, meaning that one pack cost 20 SEK instead of 40 SEK and yeah, that was too good of a sale to pass up on!

Along the rush I managed to lose my Närcon kåsa somewhere and panicked – it's not like I would have any use of it anymore but I wanted to keep it as a souvenir memory. I ran around C-huset asking the vendors I had visited if they had seen it and luckily I managed to get it back. After that we hurried back to the car where Karri and Vicktor were waiting for us. I felt really bad for delaying the trip because of losing my kåsa...

The car trip back up to Umeå went all fine and we arrived at Vicktor's apartment quite late. We had time to leave back the rental car but there was some issues with delivering the car keys so that had to be done on Monday morning instead.
On Monday morning we took Sacchan's car from the parking lot and drove back up to our final destination, but before leaving Umeå me and Karri went to eat at a local kebab place with a funny name. Ordered some huge cheeseburger, even though it's a kebab place. The food was rather expensive so yeah, took the second cheapest option, lolol.

Kebabnekajse. :'D For those who don't get the pun Kebnekajse is
the name of the highest mountain in Sweden.

 Okay so, overall Närcon was a really pleasant experience and I would go there again next year. As I said in the beginning the fence wasn't an issue this year and I didn't experience nor hear any bad stories that happened behind the scenes or to other congoers. I had no issues with the information, except that a con worker at Josbaren told me that you could only get water with the Närcon kåsa outdoors, which seemed weird because last year there were "drink stations" outdoors where you could get tea, coffee and even cold chocolate with it – this year the only place I found where you could use the Närcon kåsa was inside C-huset's cafeteria.
My main complaint is about the camping showers but that I already wrote down earlier so I'm not gonna go through it again but yeah, Närcon please get more showers to the campers.

I do regret completely missing out on the building next to C-huset though, which I heard was where all the gaming happened. I had no idea it was there because I just assumed that said building was reserved for con workers, just like last year. I know because last year, before the con officially opened, I had a horribly urgent bathroom need and got permission to go to said building's bathroom (or at least I assume it's the same building in question, might be wrong though) only when I had two workers escorting and watching over me there. So yeah, it didn't cross my mind that Närcon had expanded their activities to even more campus buildings and I of course forgot to check the con map thoroughly as well... Oh well, my mistake.


And before I end this post here is a picture of my Närcon loots (excl. mochi): 

There's an Articuno face mask (or Team Mystic, if you may), a Mikazuki Munechika plush mascot, a Yamato no Kami Yasusada gashapon rubber strap, a Lugia pin, a signed print from Yaya Han (one of the Guest of Honors), two octopus magnets and some Pokémon acrylic necklaces from different Artist's Alley sellers. There's also a Monster Hunter rubber keychain with the Quest Clear icon.


Remember those promo Tekken cards from the Bandai Namco booth?
This time I got a Super Rare gold foil card!! 8D
Thank you for reading my summary!


Alluring Alyss said...

Sounds like a really fun con~! I did a recap of my most recent con if you'd like to check that out <3

Unknown said...

Btw !! just to speak the truth .. it was my leg we duck taped a pipe to .. cuz it is broken .. it wasnt a challenge c: feel free to contact me about it on my facebook !! Alexander Riddarsporre

Shiro Samurai said...

Thanks for taking contact! I really appreciate to hear the true story and I changed the text a little, hope you don't mind. Respects to you dude. c: