Blerdcon 2021 Review – A Solid Start To Con Season
After a long hiatus, it was great to be able to get back out to a nerd convention. The Blerd Team started off the season of course by attending Blerdcon 2021. Why? Because we are blerds, of course. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces and catch back up with friends. We respect that the Blerdcon team was able to make it through the storm of Covid-19 and we especially appreciate all of the safety precautions Blerdcon took. With the recent rise in cases, this was a smart move. Unfortunately, the vaccine mandate did cause a slight dip in what the normal attendance would be.
We have created a new rating criteria for conventions this year based on 5 categories. The criteria are: The Venue, Event Schedule, Vendors & Special Guests, Wait Times, and Overall Vibe. Scores of 10 mean near perfection and are going to be especially hard to obtain. We will try to be as objective as possible (we have no affiliation with Blerdcon) and your experience may differ. Here is what we thought:
The Blerdcon 2021 Venue
Blerdcon 2021 was held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia (basically DC). Being in DC, traveling to Blerdcon is going to be pretty easy for most of us on the East Coast. The main entranceway to the convention center is lit up nicely and it is very easy to navigate. Blerdcon is a 24-hour convention on Friday and Saturday, so being able to stay in the hotel is a big plus.
With all of that being said, it feels like even with lower attendance that Blerdcon may have outgrown this venue. The team has solidified the logistics of running their event here which makes things run smooth, but at times areas feel a bit cramped. The lighting on the bottom floor and vendor area is a bit dark which makes getting great pictures in those areas tough, which is key for cosplayers and vendors trying to showcase their merch. The biggest drawback of the venue was that it was very hot inside. The combination of the mask mandate along with the con being in the middle of the summer means that the hotel staff needs to crank the AC up way more.
The Blerdcon 2021 Event Schedule
Blerdcon always impresses with its fully fleshed out 24-hour schedule. We give the team a gold star for being able to pull that off. Based on our experience, Blerdcon is great at having a diverse array of panels with educational, fun, and even zany topics. Whether you want to listen to music and dance, learn a new skill (like how to write or cosplay), diversify your blerd knowledge, or even find a love interest; Blerdcon has something for you.
No schedule is perfect, but it was hard for us to find too many flaws in the scheduling. There was always something to do regardless of the time of day and we appreciate the panels being unique and the topics not being rehashed from the previous event. To that point, sometimes multiple interesting events would be happening at the same time and unfortunately you are put in a position to choose.
The Blerdcon 2021 Special Guests & Vendors
The right special guests can boost the atmosphere of an event tremendously and often seems to be the X-factor in how fun an event is. One of our first experiences at Blerdcon 2021 was Roxxy Haze being silly and dancing by the DJ booth on the bottom floor. Karan Ashley was a major pull for all of the Power Rangers fans and she came off as super friendly! Blerdcon also had special performances from Tik Tok star Afrococoapuffs who has created viral songs about not gatekeeping, a message we can truly get behind.
Special guests also seems like an area for potential growth for Blerdcon. While it would probably be quite expensive, Blerdcon has shown that it has devoted attendees that will show up. In the past year, we have seen some of the biggest and best blerd content from major studios trying to appease our market. We would have loved to have seen Blerdcon host a celebrity guest such as an actor from Lovecraft Country, Anthony Mackie, or Ray Fisher. While that may be crazy expensive, there are also content creators in the YouTube and Twitch space that could have been great as well.
Blerdcon had a diverse group of vendors including artists, comic & manga creators, and of course apparel and accessories. It did seem like there were less vendors overall this year, which is to be expected after a rough 2020. All of the vendors that we met with were extremely friendly and the merch was high quality overall. As a professional salesperson, I really really wish they would do better with the lighting in this area. It would help the vendors sell merch so much better.
The Blerdcon 2021 Wait Times
Waiting is one of the banes of any convention. Having to stand around forever to get in, to see a special guest, or join in on a panel is the absolute worst. Blerdcon continues to handle this well as wait times were either reasonable or non-existent. You could walk up to meet guests on the bottom floor with no wait time and also just walk into the party in the ball room. The 24-hour Food Truck Rally was extremely efficient and high quality. The only significant wait time was initially checking into the convention to get your vaccine status checked and badges. Cleverly, the badges were face masks this year which helped enforce the policy to wear them indoors at all times.
The Blerdcon 2021 Vibe
Admittedly, the “vibe” category is ambiguous, but this is the overall “feel” of the convention. With the right people and atmosphere you can have fun just about anywhere regardless of where you are. The crowd at Blerdcon feels like family and you can walk up and strike up a conversation with anyone, even if you are more introverted. You will get an instant sense of comfort just being around the attendees.
One of the biggest areas of improvement from a vibe perspective for Blerdcon would be modernizing technology and putting a greater emphasis on gaming. And of course points were deducted for….
The Blerdcon 2021 Cosplay Content Controversy
I debated as to whether to address this at all, but it felt like it would be disingenuous to ignore it. Let me start by saying that The Blerd Team did not attend the cosplay contest as our panel was at the exact same time as the start of the contest and we hung around and answered questions afterwards. That being said, we definitely did hear about it later. The con chair already addressed the issue so there is no reason to rehash their points and individuals that personally attacked the winner are wrong. To attempt to derail a convention online that puts this much effort in creating community for us feels wrong too.
The issue does seem like the result of multiple externalities (many that cannot be controlled) converging at once including:
- Being an open convention that anyone can attend
- Participant lack of self-awareness of being a guest in a safe space
- Lower than ideal participation
- Stringent rating criteria
- Lack of community input
You take away any of these factors and the result likely would have been different. Making Blerdcon a membership only event would crush attendance. Businesses need money to continue to operate or they will not exist, so limiting that revenue would be a misstep.
I saw cosplays at the convention that could have easily competed in the top 3 (and maybe have even won) that did not enter. However the most impactful action would be leveraging technology to include Blerdcon attendees in the final scoring. The community score could have averaged in with the experts’ scores, allowing con-goers to affect the choice of the winner. Regardless of what anyone else says, I believe a “best” cosplay is completely subjective.
Blerdcon 2021 Cosplay Photos
Shoutout to my sister for getting these great shots at Blerdcon 2021. Follow her on Instagram @patricelynnphotography.
Those are my thoughts on Blerdcon 2021. What did you think? Let us know on our social media at blerdofficial