Diary of a Henchman: Gaelcon from a Staffer’s point of view.

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October 22, 2009 by New Capel Street: Fabric Division

It seemed – as most blogged escapades do – like a good idea at the time. Fresh from the success that was Leprecon XXX committee-dom, I told Kiltman to call me if he needed staffers for Gaelcon. I then went home, slept for three days and promptly forgot about it.

A week ago, Kiltman asked me for my t-shirt size. In the world of conventions, this is the equivalent of deciding to which flank the brand should be applied. It basically means “You’re ours for the weekend!”. This is often accompanied by evil or maniacal laughter, the twirling of moustaches and opera capes, and so on.

It is now Thursday. Gaelcon begins on Saturday and officially, I start staffing my ass off tomorrow. Unofficially, I started last Saturday, hanging out at the Con Director’s house and helping to make the dreaded convention passes. I decided on Monday to blog my experiences at this Gaelcon. I’m not sure why – it seemed like a good idea at the time. Here’s what I wrote on the bus on Monday:

I am now on the no. 7 bus to the D4 Hotel Ballsbridge, where the con will be taking place. Kiltman is walking some of us staffers around the site, showing us where everything will (hopefully!) go and the threat of more production work afterwards has been made. This trip is pretty important, because if anyone has trouble finding the con, there will be less fun for all. And we do this for fun. I Googled the route before leaving Maynooth and it looks pretty idiot proof.

Man, this bus is packed! There are even people standing upstairs, which is just insane and bloody dangerous.  Time to pay attention and look for this hotel.

(some time later)

It literally takes fifteen minutes to get from O’Connell Street to the gates of the hotel. Awesome! And the 7 stops right outside the place. Gaelcon have been plugging the accessibility of the site with good reason.

I then bimbled inside and ran into  Con Director and Production Lady. They directed me towards Kiltman, and I met some of the cast of Doctor Horrible. The fun began again. Here’s what I wrote on the bus home, several hours later.

Having seen most of the nooks and crannies of the venue, I’m really impressed. Gaelcon this year takes place in its own little warren – a gamer colony with its own bar(s), deli, shop, pizzeria and offlicence. For those with murderous tendencies towards their lungs, there is even a smoking area directly off one of the rooms. If you’re availing of the Gaelcon rate at the hotel, you could quite easily only leave to go pubbing. Venue is both big and clever. I’m really looking forward to running around it to facilitate your gaming pleasure.

While a tech rehearsal of Doctor Horrible was taking place, a small crew were finishing off the last of the con passes, and doing the eleventy billion game tickets. It’s easy to forget just how much donkey work goes into a con – even when you’ve done it before! Thankfully Production Lady is huge on organisation and forward planning, and she’s doing a really brilliant job.

So far the only problem I’ve had with the venue is that one room smelled like milk. But that’ s nothing that can’t be fixed by opening the windows and Febrezeing the hell out of it. Besides, it’s a games convention. After an hour, nobody is going to notice.

Staffing is often described as being a stressful, thankless job. For me, as may be the case with other repeat offenders, there’s a huge thrill in walking into a bare hall, seeing the floor plan and the stack of tables leaning against the wall, and geting to make the fun stuff happen.  Seeing the hall that you’ve spent hours setting up fill with people, noise and excitement is really awesome, and goes a long way towards making up for the sheer insanity that you put yourself through in pursuit of other people’s enjoyment. That bare hall is literally alive with possibilities, and I really love seeing what happens next. The next entry will most likely be post-con, and very incoherent. I apologise in advance.

So the donkey work starts tomorrow. I’ll be packing a bag tonight, and as soon as college wraps up running for a bus into town. Hopefully the t-shirt will fit – but if not I’ll improvise with it.  See you at the con!

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