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yaoi done right (in a convention sense)

C-chan explores the event that is San Francisco's Yaoi Con, and finds that for the oddness of the topic, the con fulfills the ideal of how a con should be done.

[ scribbles in the note pad ]

Yaoi Con is a strange place to be. A lot of restraints are gone. These people are obessed with something many would consider perverse, and seem to be testing their newfound freedom of expression. Where better than Yaoi Con? It's a closed, organized, safe environment.

It has a surprisingly good program guide, covering a lot of general con basics as well as material devoted specifically to yaoi (the guide instructs me that a better, more inclusive term would be BL - 'boy's love.'). Overall, it's well-written and informative, yet light and funny. The map is functional. The schedule is good.

The dealers' room is pretty standard, as such things go. It has more pretty boys and doujinshi than you'd ordinarily expect, but overall it could fit well into any con.

Yaoi Con is organized--some might even say regimented. The volunteers are well-trained and competent, particularly by comparison with, say, Ani-Magic (ed: while C-chan did not attend Ani-Magic this year, I will vouch for his statement  ~jason). The staff are highly visible. The layout gives the con tight control over traffic flow and access, and con ops' central location allows them to make the most of it.

For legal reasons, the con does not allow minors to attend. To enforce this, there are volunteers checking badges at the elevator and main stairs. Fire exits are near enough to con ops to make entry through them risky--and they have to be opened from inside. The security isn't perfect--I was able to circumvent it fairly routinely--but it's definitely enough to satisfy due diligence. Besides, the attendees are dedicated. They care about the con, and as such, don't require much policing. It's actually quite frightening.

People who like yaoi are not necessarily better than those who like mecha, or ren'ai games, or golf, chess, or politics for that matter. They're not better people, but they are better otaku. They have a cohesiveness and an identity. I envy them that, I suppose.

It makes me nostalgic.

(Have I ever mentioned why I like anime cons? I don't attend the masquerade. I don't spend much time in the video or game rooms. I couldn't care less about the vast majority of panels. It's actually the people. Friends, yes, but also simply the knowledge that these people understand the importance of 'kawaii.' Am I incapable of relating to normal society? Not really. but I'm always conscious that I'm missing something.)

It meant something very specific to be an otaku. I know people who have been chasing it for years. It pervades Otaku no Video. These people have rediscovered it.

Rob Miles commented that a con needs a theme, something around which to build an identity. Most cons don't have that, and are having trouble establishing themselves because of it. Yaoi Con has the advantage of being focused on a small area with devoted fans, and they use that in their programming.

I tell myself that the old days are gone.

It's a small con in the best sense of the word: specialized, personal, and friendly. Yaoi Con shows that Rob is right; cons tend to work better if they have themes. Attend it next year, if you have a chance.