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.