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[personal profile] blk
This year at Arisia I prioritized dancing, costuming, and seeing the guest of honor, to great success.


Last year at Arisia I re-realized that dancing is awesome, so I decided to try to do a lot of that this year, even bringing along pharmaceutical assistance (in the form of dimenhydrinate) to help with the less good side effects that I mostly blame for why I've kept away from it for long. I made it to most of the swing dance, the fusion dance lesson, all three late night dances, and even did one contra song. I missed the waltz (sad!) because it overlapped a GOH panel, and most of the contra because spinning1 messes up my head.

Mostly it was all excellent2 and re-reminded me that dancing is hella fun and I want to do more of it. My follow skills for partner dances felt super rusty and sloppy, but I think there was some improvement just over the course of the weekend, and I'm positive with actual lessons I could do a whole lot more pretty quickly. The club dancing was good at energy burn and flow, and there's something nice about being in a roomful of other geeks that makes me a little less self-conscious about all the possible ways I can look stupid whilst flailing around the dance floor. Also having a hotel room available just a few floors away that I could floomp into when I started fading.

So now I'm looking around locally for dancing I can make time for. Primarily partner dancing, although getting out to a club every now and again would be fun too. I could do CMUBDC, but I wonder if I'll feel old there. Swing city looks to be still operating, and is convenient. I see a lot of conflicting information about various regular ballroom classes/dances, so that will take some more research. [profile] marmal8, I may be stalking you for events for a bit.

1 Yes, I know that it's possible to contra without swinging super fast, but it's really not possible to contra without swinging at all, because every dance has like 2 or 3 of them, plus other spins, AND the dances are usually around ~10 minutes long instead of 3-4 mins for regular partner dances AND contra really isn't much my style anyways. I really like having to be precise and exact and well-matched with a partner.

2 Except for a brief moment where I had a teeny little private meltdown in the bathroom from an internal struggle with really wanting to participate in the last contra of the night/weekend vs needing to sit out because head was a little spinny. But that passed and I went on to dance other things.


Cosplay is fun! I found out about Carrie Fisher's death on the way home from cabining with [profile] xuth, and a couple days later decided that I wanted to be her once again. Not the Princess Leia that I was last year, but the older, more mature, General Leia. The one who had lived through a rebellious teen, a rocky marriage, and had thrown herself back into her work, fighting for good. Best Leia.

Unfortunately, this left me less than two weeks to get my costume together. And I knew that there would be guaranteed several other Leias at the con because of current events, so mine had to be Right. I managed to find beige clothing that worked well, but no vests I was happy with, when Xuth suggested I make my own. A simple vest shouldn't be that hard, right? Of course not, and it shouldn't take long, assured Xuth, who is very capable and comfortable with power tools and knows his way around the sewing machine much better than I do. Well, after a great deal of trial and error sewing and ripping and sewing and ripping and maybe a tantrum or two, I finally managed to create a decent looking dark purple vest, with liner and pockets and a belt from plastic, aluminum tape and elastic, all about a day before leaving.

The costume turned out as something I was pretty happy with. I also figured out, after quite a few failed attempts, how to pile my hair on my head to effectively mimic her twists, at least from the front, which none of the other General Leias at the con (I saw at least three) had done. At one point, Xuth commented on how much hairstyle figures into my cosplay, and I was like, duh, have you met met?

I got a lot of compliments and had fun schmoozing with the various other Leias who were also there and the rest of the people who made it to the Star Wars photoshoot. I wore this one Friday and Saturday, but noticed that although there were General Leias and New Hope Leias and Endor Leias, there were no Hoth Leias, so I changed into that (costume from previous year) for Sunday.

My final costume was a simple Star Trek Uhura outfit, one copied from Into Darkness (new old) and thrown together for Halloween. Initially I'd acquired a cheap package costume, then found a much better quality real outfit on eBay. Then there were the boots. I thought that after running for years, outgrowing pants and socks, and having trouble fitting into anything "skinny" anymore, that my calves could finally qualify as being "normal-sized" calves. But noooooo, apparently 15" is still so wide they swim. I found a slightly smaller calved boot from Keen that works reasonable well, but argh. I guess I still have stupid skilly legs.

The fun of cosplay has motivated me to start learning sewing for real, and I took my first ever sewing class just before the con. We sewed a cute little pillowcase, which was fairly straightforward, but OMG, it turned out perfectly without any tears! Or any tearing out stiches over and over! Which further indicates that heeeey maybe I should try to learn these skills incrementally instead of in gigantic crash sessions. I'm looking forward to more lessons.


I finally figured out the last couple years that Arisia's taste in Writer GOHs is pretty good, and I should pay attention to them. 2015 had N.K. Jemisin, who I didn't sadly attend panels of but ended up loving her books later that year. 2016 had Scalzi, and while I don't love his books quite as thoroughly, I do like his writing a lot and enjoyed the panels he was on. And 2017 was [profile] ursulav who I haven't read much of yet, but I know she has a really lovely way with words.3 Her sessions were quite enjoyable. The panel which was basically "ursulav answers audience questions" was funny, and prompted me to go look up gems such as Hellhound Rescue, The Hidden Almanac, and her Alarming New Skill. So now I am motivated to read much more of her work, and possibly gift a certain set of niblings with some of her children's work.

3 If you haven't read anything by Ursula Vernon, I recommend a short fiction: Jackalope Wives to get a taste for her style of writing. Then consider that a lot of her work is in the form of graphic novels and retold fairy tales.

The only really negative part of the weekend is somewhere about 6 hours out of Boston I realized I hadn't packed up the two copies of the Halcyon Fairy Book that I'd purchased and gotten autographed while standing around trying not to fangirl too hard at the author, and Xuth didn't remember packing them either, and when he called the hotel, they didn't report having found them. I'm reeeeeeeally bummed about that. They were last seen in the hotel room on the desk, so I guess I just keep hoping that we get a call back soon. :(


The other big interesting thing about this year's con is that for the first time, I brought along the jboys. Justin was on winter break from RIT and David decided he wanted to tag along as well. So we put them up in The Boy's hotel room a few blocks away, and lo and behold, they managed to survive the weekend. I'm not sure either of them spent more than an hour outside the video game room, but hey, it's a thing, and they had fun.

I also got a chance to visit with some lovely local people, many of whom I basically see once a year around this time, although not nearly as many or with as much quality time as I wish I could have. I think that specific socializing needs to be more formally planned next year.

For the drive back, we went home by way of Rochester, because as it turns out, Boston to Rochester to Pittsburgh is only about 100 miles more than Boston to Pittsburgh is, and we could drop off Justin at his dorm. The final three of us finally got home Tuesday.

Whew. Excellent weekend. Let's do it again next year.

Date: 20 Jan 2017 15:13 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] minerva42
I hosted a few pool parties, but failed to invite all the people - mostly the pool is loud, and also there are a lot of overlapping social groups at Arisia. I enjoyed having tea with you and Xuth this summer at the wedding (even though I was exhausted and not really a person then) and would love a way to plan more conversations and room visits with more friends/small groups next year.

Date: 20 Jan 2017 21:20 (UTC)
timmc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] timmc
Oh man, Ursula Vernon is great. I don't know why I don't read more of her stuff.

Date: 21 Jan 2017 04:11 (UTC)
alchemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alchemist
If the books aren't found, drop me a note, and I'll see what we can do to get you replacements. :)

And it was nice being there, and she and I are glad you enjoyed it! (and I, for one, am very happy to see you like Hidden Almanac)

Date: 19 Jan 2017 23:21 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Come dance with us any time! Absolute Ballroom is close by, woman-owned, and no-commitment. I'm pretty much always there Tuesdays, first Fridays, and third Saturdays and I'll introduce you to everyone, though previous experience tells me you are fine introducing yourself to people. WCS may be too spinny for you, but you can always meet people and talk to them and see if another dance might suit you better. I'm not really an expert on the Latin dances but I can introduce you to Matt, who does them. I think they may be less spinny.

Club dancing I'm not as familiar with, but my friend Fox is, and so is another woman who comes to WCS, Heidi.

tl;dr: We can hook you up because dancing is best.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 23:27 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, also Blues Dancing. Talk to the Grummet One about that and its relative spinniness. It happens in a bar and is free but it is probably good manners to buy something while there.

Date: 20 Jan 2017 20:26 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, one of the distinguishing features of WCS is the slower tempo. The internet is saying the ideal tempo is 128 bpm but that's "September" by Earth Wind and Fire, and that's definitely at the faster end of what we use. We sometimes go as slow as ~80 bpm (ex: "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran). The amount of spinning definitely depends on the lead, the patterns they know, and how attentive and clued in they are to the fact that follows get dizzy if you spin them. Or you can learn to lead and not have to move a lot (but have to be mindful of floor traffic, plan ahead, lead clearly, etc...) We do have a number of people who dance both roles.

Date: 20 Jan 2017 21:38 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I tried leading (it was my resolution in 2015 to learn how to lead) and honestly I just don't like it. Too many things to worry about. I have more empathy for leaders now (to a point).

Date: 20 Jan 2017 01:30 (UTC)
coraline: (Default)
From: [personal profile] coraline
yay dancing! and it was lovely to hang out with you a little bit :)
your leia looked super excellent.

Date: 20 Jan 2017 02:35 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad you made it to Arisia and had a good time. It was good to see you.

Also, Ursula Vernon is awesome and I highly recommend reading nearly everything by her. But especially Digger and her LJ entries where she blogs about her roleplaying game. Because those are effing hilarious.

Date: 21 Jan 2017 08:09 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have heard and seen Absolute Ballroom (I pass by it occasionally), but don't know of any other places to learn dance (most of the people I know who dance are bellydancers and I don't think that is what you have in mind).

Being a Trekker I love the Uhura uniform. I have been tempted to get an original series version, though blue for science.

Date: 23 Jan 2017 04:30 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you want contra but precise and with mostly one partner per dance then you should try Scottish Country Dance! Contra definitely gets too spinny for me, and there are always the partners who want to lead you into extra twirls. The Pittsburgh group is super nice, and one of the things I really miss about Pittsburgh.


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