March 15, 2018

Okamicon 2018 – Chaos and doggos

Hello fluffbutts!

It's time to write about Okamicon, the new con in Sundsvall that was held on 9-11 March and which had marketed itself as being LGBT embracing. Don't get me wrong, pretty much all cons are LGBT-friendly (as it feels like a majority of congoers fit into that spectrum in one way or another), but Okamicon had it visible on their website and *prepare for it* ON THEIR MASCOT DOGGO. ♥ 
I'm not gonna lie, despite what my opinions about the con might or might not be I must admit that I am in love with their mascot and it's easily my favorite con mascot now and forever, period. I just love the representation of the different pride flags as the wolf's earrings and the design overall is just to my liking. Truth be told, part of the reason I even went to the con was because I loved the mascot so much, lmao. #fanboynumberone

I'm gonna open up my wordy treasure chest and let's get to the summary! 
Please note that the photographs have varying photo quality (aka light conditions) and that's simply because I didn't have a chance to take all photos during daylight hours as I was working a majority of my time there.

Okamicon banner at the entrance.
My journey to Okamicon started with cat puke. Wonderful. I woke up early on the morning and while in the bathroom I noticed that my cat Kili was gagging, but before I had time to react he had vomited all over the carpet. And not just any carpet – the fluffiest, newest carpet that would be as hard to clean as possible. I was like "are you fucking kidding me?" because I totally had not reserved time for anything additional and I was already stressed. So yeah, my morning starts with furiously cleaning up cat puke for a liberal 30 minutes before I get to do anything else. -.- By the time I get to the breakfast I get a call from Carina that her husband will come get me soon. I'm like "oh fuck I'm not even done with breakfast". So yeah, stressful.
I pack all the cat stuff, my con stuff and finish whatever morning preparations I usually do and headed into the car. I got a ride to Carina's place and my cats stayed there over the weekend while Sacchan and her friend came to take care of them. I waited for Carina's daughters to get ready and then we drove southwards to Sundsvall.

I need to mention that a bit less than a week before the con I had still not received any kind of working time schedule and this deeply worried me. I knew that I was accepted into the entrance team but nothing more. I had sent a message to my team leader, asking about my work hours (twice, to boot) but hadn't received a reply and it had been days – and the con inched closer and closer. I found this really weird and unprofessional because, earlier, he had replied on a timely manner but now that the con was extremely close the communication had dropped dead. Nothing. Nada. Dead.
Needless to say, while I was sitting in the car driving 600+ kilometers from home I started to feel anxious. "What if I got there and they had actually cancelled my shifts? What if..." Driving from so far away and not even knowing your goddamn working hours was a stressful combination – what if we drove all that way for nothing?
I got desperate enough to write a public message on Okamicon's Facebook page and that's when I finally got a reply. Except not from my team leader but from another con worker. Thankfully I knew him from another con and he said that he would act as the middle-man between me and my leader as seemingly my leader was really busy right now.
We talked about the situation and he said that he'd send me the work shift hours. We had some issues with getting it to work as my phone couldn't open the files at first, but we found a way and... I was about ready to flip my shit when I saw which shifts I had been assigned.
Okay, I appreciate that they tried to give me (and possibly everyone else) free time during the activities that we wanted to attend but... they're missing one tiny but crucial detail – I STILL LIVE 600+ KILOMETERS AWAY AND I NEED TO GET BACK HOME EARLY ON SUNDAY MORNING BECAUSE THE DRIVE BACK TAKES APPROX. 7 HOURS AND I HAVE SCHOOL ON MONDAY TO WHICH I HAVE TO WAKE UP EARLIER THAN A CHICKEN HAS TIME TO FART. I CAN'T WORK ON SUNDAY UNTIL FREAKING 17:00.

Fun part? Because I didn't know my working schedule, before the departure day, we couldn't plan on how early we'd have to leave so that I would surely be there on time for when my shift starts. We knew that the con opened 17:00 but we had no idea who'd work the first pass and thus we didn't aim to be there exactly when the doors opened. Also, there was a traffic accident and stuff and so the trip took a bit longer than usual anyway – I remember when there was 15 min left to the opening (and my shift, which I had now been made aware of) we were still in like Härnösand or something...
So yeah, very professional to give someone who lives 7+ hours away the first shift of the day and inform about it late as shit, aka on the afternoon OF THE ACTUAL CON DAY. Halleluja. -.- And I would have been without the info until I got to the con, if I had not actively asked about it...

Okay, enough salt for now.
We eventually got to Sundsvall, where we struggled to find our hotel (more like hostel) and there we quickly left our belongings before heading to the con. I was really tired and drained at this point and I think, most of all, I just wanted to eat and go sleep.

We had room number 112. Send help pls.
I was already at least 1 hour late to my shift and when I got there I was relieved to notice that my team leader was a really nice guy. I asked him what my work tasks would be and if it was similar to how things were done in Skecon (I worked entrance there) and he was like "nothing's like in Skecon because there's total chaos everywhere :D" – how reassuring. I looked around me and yeah, couldn't deny that.
Amidst this mess there was a positive thing too; I heard that my shifts had been completely scrapped because the Okamicon organizers had deemed that the second entrance (where I was supposed to work) was pointless to keep and so they closed it. This in turn meant that I could personally jump in and choose what working times I wanted on the first entrance – holy frick my salvation! I later heard some rumors that they planned to take the second entrance back but seemingly it never happened. So confusing.

Okamicon entrance. It was held in Centrumvillan, some sort of school building
me thinks, not 100% sure.
The rest of my company went to eat pizza and I had to stay at the con to work. I had explained at the con that I can't do any shifts on Sunday (because we'll leave early) and so I had double shifts on Saturday to compensate. Because of my lateness I worked extra, until about 21:00 or something (I can't remember exactly), before I called it a day because I got too tired to continue. My team leader was very understanding as it had been a long trip down. He also apologized for the schedule mess and lack of responses, seemingly he had been sitting in a train or something? Not too sure how that limits you from checking messages (and not responding for ~days~) but oh well, I'll buy it.

EDIT: I got it confirmed that he didn't, in fact, have any phone network on the train, which explains things.

Inner entrance doors. Notice the doggos. Those were plastered
all over the place, it was hilarious.
My work mates were friendly and I liked the overall feeling of the con, despite the chaos on Friday. Then again, I did hear that the reason for some of the chaos was beyond the con's control. Seemingly they didn't get permission to rig the event on the day before, as they had wanted to, and so they had to build it from scratch on Friday – the same day on which the doors would open. Yikes! Needless to say they got a less-than-stellar start and a tight time frame to prepare the convention for the masses. It's understandable.
Also, I heard that when the opening hour was closing in that some con workers just stood there doing nothing when there was a lot of stuff left to do. Now there could be all kinds of reasons for that so I won't say anything more about it since I don't know the details. Another thing I happened to hear was that some stuff that the con had ordered had not yet arrived on Friday and that also contributed to the chaotic feeling.

The con ticket was super cute with a galaxy color theme!
As a con worker we got these special t-shirts to wear to make it clear who's an attendant and who's a worker. Ordinary con workers had these super bright pink shirts, security had lime green ones and the organizers had dark violet. Also, all workers were called 'kohai' and organizers were 'sempai'. Maybe I'm getting too old for these jokes as I wasn't too sure how to feel about having a shirt that says "notice me sempai" on it, lmao. I felt a peculiar mixture of amusement, embarrassment and cringe, sprinkled with a spice of weeb.

My pink weeb workshirt. :))
The back was better tbh.
(yes, the photo is taken on a mirror but is flipped)
Back at the hotel I went to sleep before long. I was really tired. Like no shit.

Saturday came. I went to eat hotel breakfast, which had the smallest variety I've ever seen but oh well, there was enough good stuff to get me filled and content. Brie cheese on bread, fuck yeah!
Back in the hotel room I started attaching my shiny Mightyena gijinka's ears to the wig. I had literally sewn the ears in a hurry the day before the con and had some problems trying to attach them to the wig. After a lot of twisting and turning I managed to get them to stay on with the help of safety pins (I also tried handsewing them on but it didn't work).
My work shift would start at 12:00 and I got a ride from this same wonderful person who drove me to the hostel yesterday night when Carina couldn't. He arrived a bit late but everything went okay anyway and I jumped straight into my working shift. The con felt a bit more collected now and things seemed to run decently. I was working until 16:00 but I had permission to go and snap some photos, while the sunlight was still going strong, and so I did.

It was really chill to work at the entrance. Main tasks were greeting people, checking that everyone had con bands on their wrists (aka paid to get in) and check that the metal piece keeping the band secured wasn't loose. We also of course sold and scanned in tickets, watched so that no drugged or suspicious people etc came in and helped opening the doors for those who had their hands full and such.
Most of the time it was slightly boring (I felt a bit abundant as well, three people working at the same time felt a bit overkill on such a small con) as you were stuck sitting in the same place for hours on end, but that's a pretty obvious part of the job as you kind of double as a gateguard, lol. I must mention though that I was a bit disappointed that there weren't any candies for us entrance worker; we were kinda promised that on the online application lol, "come work here and get sweets!".
Also, one thing we noticed was that seemingly Okamicon had forgotten to inform that they had hired Centrumvillan for the whole weekend and that all other activites were cancelled for said weekend – we had several youths walking in and expecting there to be some sort of "fritidsgården" activity but we had to turn them around and explain that no, there is no such thing this weekend as Okamicon is here. It got a bit tiresome after a while. How come it had not been announced in advance?

Okamicon seen from the entrance.
Entrance view but from a different direction. The green
area is the cafeteria.
Sloth cafe. (on Saturday they sold
alcohol-free drinks, shame those weren't
available with food tickets, fml. :C)
Speaking of food tickets. We con workers got two for each shift we did, which basically translated to two meals. Not very nutritious nor healthy meals though, mind you – toast and a soda or Billy's pan pizza and soda. I know cons tend to have crappy food options (this is not just Okamicon) but at the same time I can't help but roll my eyes at the irony how the typical con mantra is "eat, drink, shower and sleep" and still the food options are so limited and poor in nutrition that it kinda defeats the purpose, lmao.
And while we are on the food talk I must admit that there was something that bothered me with Okamicon's menu. While applying to work at the con we all had to fill in if we had any (food) allergies and I had mentioned ham in there – not because I'm straight-up allergic but because I avoid it on a high scale because the consistency and taste of a majority of pork products makes me gag. Okay, so when I got to actually order something I must admit that I felt let down that there were so few options... and none were ham-free or had it compensated with something else (any other meat, anyone?). I mean, Skecon last year had a myriad of Billy's pan pizza flavors (incl. Gorby's) but Okamicon only had *drumroll* the original one. The exact one that I can't eat to save my life. I swear I was the only kid in grade school who legit hated pizza days because it was Billy's original and that shit makes me gag to hell and back. I simply can't swallow it. Everyone probably thought I was weird as fuck.
Okay, so no Billy's then. My other choice was toast. Toast with ham and cheese and grill spice, if wanted. You could get vegan version and such but there was nothing to make up for the ham if you opted out of it. No ham just meant a toast with cheese and possible grill spice, nothing else. I'm sorry but that's so poor that even a poorfag like me feels disappointed. *headdesk* It wouldn't have been hard to have at least another option like chicken or literally anything else, just ~something~ for us that can't stand eating pork. Tuna would have been godtier, just saying.
Felt pointless to mention special diets in the first place when applying and then have it not accounted for. Blah.

Literally what I lived on for two days. Toast with cheese.
(except for candies and hotel breakfast)
I can't claim that I felt especially healthy and full of energy at the con but my overall feeling of it is still positive. Okamicon had a roomy and light location (a lot of windows) that provided a comfy feel, similar to that on other small-scale conventions.

There was little merchandise to buy and I'm not sure if there even was an Artist's Alley at all? Correct me if I'm wrong but I can't remember seeing it.

Dealer's hall.
Dealer's hall.
Dealer's hall items. There ain't no con without Pocky and Ramune.
Second-hand video games and stuff.
Besökarnas försäljningsbord.
"Besökarnas försäljningsbord" (lit. visitiors selling table) was there though, although it mainly consisted of manga pockets and thus nothing of interest to me. The only thing I bought was a Ho-Oh figurine – I suspect it's one of the earlier pre-order bonus figurines that came when ordering Pokémon video games and thus it's typically worth more than what I paid for it. xD Besides, it's really nice looking!

Some kind of activity room...?
There was stuff to do if you got bored.
When my first Saturday shift ended on 16:00 I quickly went to change into cosplay. I had 4 hours of free time before my night shift would start. An organizer had told me earlier that there were no separate changing rooms and so, if you wanted to get into cosplay, you had to change in the toilets. Now this wouldn't have been a problem but there were like... three toilets in total. All three were of course occupied when I was out of my shift and I didn't feel like waiting for an unknown time and so I asked an organizer if there really is no other bathroom anywhere? Turned out that there was one in the karaoke room but it was a bit hidden. There we go.
While I was there I heard three guys singing together We are Number One and it was fekkin' glorious. Possibly the best part of the whole con. x)

Shitty photo but whatevs, proof at least
that I wore shiny Mightyena.
I messed up my makeup (damn those triangles under the eyes, my brown eyeliner died on me...) but at least I didn't have the possibility for a photoshoot so it didn't matter that much in the end anyway. I want to photoshoot this costume later and fix the ears so that they actually stand up. Don't wanna be sad doggo. Oh and yeah, I totally picked Mightyena to fit in with the con's canine theme. :D

While in costume I had a group of really young kids asking me if those lenses were my real eyes. I just said that no, of course not. How can anyone even think that? xD They said that my eyes looked creepy because they were so bright that it looked like they were shining in the dark... ooooh. To be honest I was standing in a darker corridor at this time, hörrhörr.

No con without drawn memes somewhere.
Something that surprised me at Okamicon was the oversized chess board and the other colorful game game placed on some of the tables near the entrance. I've never seen that done before! I have no idea how to play chess but, if I knew, I think I would have tried it. I should ask my friend to teach me...

Chess and whatever-that-colorful-one-is.
Okamicon was on two floors. Near the entrance were stairs leading to the basement floor. Down there was the cloak room, the Harry Potter themed chill room and the video games room. On first glance it looked like there wasn't much going on there (narrow corridor with closed doors) but if you peeked into the rooms with open doors you found activities. I didn't stay for long but I noticed that the Harry Potter room had crafting supplies on the table and it seemed like the motives were inspired from the wizard world.

Stairs leading downstairs.
Close-up on the cool video game sign and the tournament list.
The video game room was one of the first things I checked out as soon as I was done putting on my cosplay. My initial reaction was disappointment, mainly because there were no retro consoles and everything was from the two latest generations (or that's what it looked like on a quick glance). I've said it before on previous con summaries but I'm a retro lover and one of the best ways to kill time at a con when you're alone is to play on a Super Nintendo or a Nintendo 64, at least for me. But guess what? There wasn't even a single Nintendo console, blasphemy! D: I only saw Xboxes and PlayStations; nothing wrong with that but yeah, why no Nintendo? I understand if the kind people lending their consoles simply didn't have any but yeah, I was looking forward to playing some older games to spend my time because I was alone at the con for the whole duration of it.

Video game room.
Video game room.
I was about to sit down and play some Soul Calibur 5... until I realized it was for Xbox. I don't know how to Xbox. And so I just walked away.

The Harry Potter themed crafts and chill room.
One thing that makes me sad is that I missed/forgot about the two activities that I really wanted to go see, namely the Pokémon 2000 movie (nostalgy!!) and Your Name, aka Kimi no Na wa. When I realized on Saturday afternoon, while working, that I had missed the Pokémon movie I was not so happy. *insert dramatic no here*
This means that I didn't go to any activities. I did consider the cosplay competition at first but I quickly scrapped the idea when it dawned on me that it starts super late on 22:00. I don't understand why the heck you'd put the main program of the con on such a late hour? I've seen some other cons do it as well (looking at you, Närcon) and I'm sitting here like "why the actual fuck?", lmao. The younger audience will probably leave to sleep before that and oldies like me will be too tired at that point anyway. I just don't understand why cosplay competitions can't be held on like the early evening or such? Would make a lot more sense. Heck, if I participated in the competition I would be too tired to even put on the cosplay so late and, if I had worn it since the con day began, then both me and my costume would look like a greasy potato once the competition finally got around. I guess it works for some people but for me it's just a major turn-off when I see that the cosplay competition runs until midnight. Just no.

Okamicon posters galore.
Weird ships...
I'm actually struggling to remember what I did and that's probably because I didn't do much at all. ^^" Frankly, I was quite bored for most of the time – not because the con was necessarily lackluster but because I was without company for the whole weekend. Normally small cons are super enjoyable when you share the fun with people you like to hang out with but, this time, some shit happened and my travel buddies were barely at the con at all (they found it boring) and so I was left on my own. I missed my usual con company and I think the lack of being social made my overall con experience a bit.. meh.

The door leads to the cosplay workshop.
Cosplay costumes on display.
I have no idea what the purpose of those displayed costumes were (used on a panel maybe? I got the impression they had all been competed in) but they were standing outside the cosplay workshop. No offense but that kimono outfit was so wrinkled that it was impossible to not notice it. It looked so out of place because the two others were so crisp and neat. :S

Karaoke room.
I'm not sure if there was a Guest of Honor but I must say that I did expect the LGBT focus to be more... visible. I could only find one booth that catered to it, although if there were panels I'm not sure. Still a nice little thing but I guess I was just expecting more? I feel like I'm being soooo negative. xD

Okamicon general view.
The LGBT promotion booth.
I changed out of cosplay around 19:00 and prepared for my second Saturday work shift, which was from 20-22. Somewhere along the lines I started to get a headache and, luckily, once my shift was over (just when people started lining up for the cosplay competition, in fact) this same guy who gave me a ride earlier showed up. ;A; He was my con hero, bless.

I was surprised to see the sleeping accommodation in the
con building?! Convenient (assuming it's not noisy).
I don't feel like talking about the car trip back home and such and so I'll just end this summary here. It's already a lot longer than I intended, oops.

Okamicon or Okamehcon?

I have really mixed feelings about this con, to be honest. There were many issues of varying degrees but things did, on the bigger scale, work sufficiently enough to make the whole experience feel like a con experience and not just a clusterfuck with brightly colored people in it. A lot of the con feel came from the funny decorations (doggos everywhere) and the kind people. Also, I am fully aware that this was the first Okamicon and thus some degree of error is to be expected and forgiven but, tbh, I've been to a lot of other (then) small first-time cons that did things better.
It was a slow-paced and relaxed "hang with your friends" type of con and I went in with low to average expectations – I did expect it to be bigger than the cons in the north and that's simply because Sundsvall is about half-way in Sweden and so I thought it could attract more visitors. I was disappointed by a lot of stuff but I would still say that I want to see how Okamicon will evolve and thus I would attend it a second time. It was decent – nothing extraordinary but not a complete flop either. There is a lot of room for improvements and I'm pretty sure that the organizers are already aware of what to do differently for next time.

One thing that I've forgot to mention, and which did bother me, was that there seemed to be no printed activity schedules or such anywhere – so the only way to know what was happening, when and where was to keep religiously checking Okamicon's website and/or social media. I also heard that it was pretty pointless anyway because seemingly a lot of the planned activities were moved, cancelled etc. 
I feel like I've come to expect activity schedules to be visible somewhere at the con and thus the lack of any gave the false feeling of there actually not being anything going on. Okay, there were a few papers taped here and there informing about a single activity but there weren't many of them... and one of them was placed in a dangerous place. -.- I mean really, put a sign on one of the stair steps so that you trip on the stairs while trying to read it as you go up? I almost faceplanted thanks to that dumbass sign; whoever thought it was a good idea to place it there deserves a cactus up their ass. :)

tl;dr – Okamicon faced some major hiccups but it was still somehow enjoyable enough to deserve a second chance from me (aka I would go there again), possibly because it was powered by cute shibes and loafbutt corgis being plastered all over the place.

Thanks for reading and I promise, no hard feelings despite how savage I might have sounded. x) This is definitely not to be taken as a "I hate Okamicon" post!! I will likely return if Okamicon is arranged again. I probably forgot to write something but oh well.


Josefine L-B said...

Team Cosplay person here!
I'm actually surprised that the workers didn't tell you that the Cosplay Verkstan had space meant for changing... That was like one of our main things. xD
And as the maker of the wrinkly kimono, I did notice how wrinkly it was when I brought it up from the packing but since a lots of things happened that day I forgot to iron it at the site. (That and my fear of irons lol)
And yes, the three cosplays has been competed with. ^^ We were suppose to switch cosplays on the mannequins each day but because of the chaos that kept happening and stealing the team leaders, we simply didn't have the time and energy. xD

Shiro Samurai said...

That's weird, I guess the person I asked didn't know then. Poor information or something. :S But yeah, really weird if it was your main thing lol.
Oh I see. Yeah can't deny it was pretty chaotic all along. xD That kind of sounds like there were more than those 3 costumes but the others didn't get their spotlight?

lollo :3 said...

Dunno if you’ve been there but PicaCon is an amazing smal con in kristinehamn in April. Being a volunteer there is amazing since you get real food for lunch and dinner! Best con I’ve ever worked for