Dukie Does Dallas: HarmonyCon Recap Day One

Rolling Pone: Dukie Does Dallas
An Introduction to the First Ever HarmonyCon
Foal Duke, International Affairs Correspondent, Addison, Dallas, 08 - 10 Feb 2019

So, according to Crowded House, you should always take the weather with you.
    Well, Crowded House can bugger off - I did take the weather me and consequently it rained instead of being a few nice sunny days like I was hoping for. But that didn't matter, pony fanatics, because it was the first convention of the season and I was there to cover it, just for you. I'm great, aren't I?
    This was the first ever HarmonyCon, and the spiritual successor to Nightmare Nights Dallas. And it showed; there were a lot of staff from NND to help run the place, and Chef Sandy and various other bigwigs gave the latest Brawlers Tyler and Pepper some invaluable advice. While it did have a hitch or two (as we all know by now...) it ran pretty smoothly.  Crucially, though, especially as I am a Dallas newfag, did it live up to expectiations?
    Pretty much everyone seemed to think so.
    Join me after the break for the latest entry in the Rolling Pone nerd travelogues... with Dukie Does Dallas.

Day One: I SWAT JR
Facts, Figures, and Foal Feels 'Fects of Fake Bomb Threats

HarmonyCon had some big (spurred) boots to fill, and boy did it try and boy did it do well. Hosted at the Crown Plaza in Addison, it was like they had never left. The charity this year was the Ronald McDonald House, providing living facilities for parents of terminally ill children, and they managed to raise $7600 at the con. Not bad for a first year! There was no distinct theme this year, other than love and tolerance.
    One of the big quirks of this con was their strange combination of various things, including a panel for all the show staff (the three main guests) and a commentary panel before the opening ceremonies. Another noticeable thing was the sheer number of panels giving practical advice, from So You Want to Be a Vendor to Cons on a Budget.
    The venue was all on one floor at the Crowne Plaza, and the con chairs tell me this was it was slightly cheapher than the Nightmare Nights arrangement of using certain rooms on the ground floor, and also with a third of the attenance numbers (500 or so rather than 1500) splitting Oak into three instead of two because of smaller audiences makes sense. It was also easier to do the rounds and patrol, as came in handy later that night...
    Tickets came in these forms: Producer ($500 Top-tier Sponsor, 6 sold), Lead Singer ($250 Mid-tier Sponsor, 7 sold), Showpony (Regular Sponsor, $100, 75 or so sold) and Regular ($70, 420 or so sold out of 500 attendees). Each higher ticket got your faster access to Mane Events, and free shirts, and so on.

Panel: Jim Miller's Commentary
The first panel of the day involved Jim Miller, AKA Big Jim, giving his thoughts on the Season 8 episode Sounds of Silence live, as it played. Though it would be nice to watch the episode uninterrupted, it contained less breaks than a typical episode (really) and we learned some very insightful and amusing aspects to animation direction. This was bolstered by Jim's unique perspective as a storyboarder, which gives him unique insight into the nuts and bolts of it.
    Notable tidbits included how the celebrity singing voice was able to jump straight into the singing herself, and they didn't need to get a regular VA in to do the singing, and how there are only so many different kirin designs and mouth/body pieces that they could make, and regular voice actors, if you listened carefully, would make random background utterances for background characters.
    It was a pretty insightful panel and everyone had a pretty good time.

Opening Ceremonies
And finally, at 4pm, we came to the opening ceremony, hosted by the two con Chairs Tyler and Pepper.
    They introduced themselves and gave a brief rundown of their history in the fandom as part of the North Texas Bronies group and then treated us to a cute little animation showing the convention OCs helping to build and stage the event, scored to the melodic tones of DoTheDaringDew
    Then the guests were introduced, starting with the show staff guests (Tony Fleecs, Jim Miller, Elley-Ray Hennessey) and the large and varied array of fan musicians. In this author's opinion, the selection was impressive for a first-time con and more than covered the equally impressive rave-cum-concert held over Friday and Saturday.
    About 150 people attended the opener, in the main hall, which was pretty full as a result, and it got quite a lot of applause. People were getting hyped, and so was I.
    There was, finally, a pony convention in the South again.

Panel: Con-ing on a Budget with Chelis

This shameless circle-jerk was hosted by Chelis, the editor of Horse News, and being in one of the Oak siderooms, only meant about ten people got to see it, which is a shame as anyone who is not a pleb will see Chelis. He is a god of Gonzo journalism and knows all and sees all.1
    So in the panel, which only took about half an hour, he demonstrated all his little tips and tricks for keeping the costs down. In between hurling insults at the audience for asking questions like 'What's a convention?' and at me for fussing over my camera. The Chelis shalt notte be interruptedde.
    Aside from mentioning things that are obvious but you might not think about, like planning some meals out ahead of time, and of course checking if the hotel hosting your con is doing a discout deal on rooms, he gave tips on budgeting and emphasies to book things early.
    He also namedropped Spirit Air as the airline to take, as they are terrible for delays but they are very cheap. And also, Megabus. The only drawback with Megabus is the requirement to take an extra day off (i.e. Thursday) unless you're okay with sleeping overnight on a bus trip (12 - 13 hours). They also take bikes, if you want to avoid cab fares. Bear in mind a DART train from the airport is about $12 and a day ride ticket on a bus is only $3. Jesus. Greyhound and DART buses have bike racks too, but cycling from Central Station to Addison takes about the same time. You won't get hot - it's only Feb.2
    Besides that, make sure that you find cheap nearby places to buy food from such as Wal Mart or Target; ready meals are an option if you have a microwave too, I guess. There are two of each nearby. As opposed to at BABS. There are none.
    Beforehand, I mentioned the possibility of taking a train / bike if you live in a large town and want what is, essentially, a cheap flight with business-class legroom, more bags, no bag fees, and no TSA gropings. And taking KLM or Virgin Atlantic if you want (relatively) cheap international flights with good bag allowances, such as a vendor or musician. Chelis hit me with the cat-o-nine-tails again.
    So yes, if you want your con trip to be as cheap as Sunset Shimmer, Chelis is your man.3
1 This article was edited by Chelis.4
2 Chelis made this happen. See? Chelis is God.
3,4 Though obviously not well enough.

Other Activities
There were plenty of other panels and sideshows that I was sadly unable to cover, and these inclued Elley-Ray's children's story time panel - some of the younger kids loved it (and so did their parents), and it's not hard to see why: a veteran children's voice actor with a quite sing-song voice who is perfect for fairytales! There was also a magician's show, which I feel would've benefitted from a bigger room, and  finger puppet craft panel, with a show on Saturday. Bless.
     The Remembrance Panel was an engaging and exciting panel (episode 9 out soon!) in which AshleyH shared her secrets for creating a successful audio drama. There was a wide variety of instructional panels on creating your own red and black OCs, which should've been before the pony art panel, not overlapping it. We also had, in keeping with the video game and tabletop game hosting, which drew each 20 or so people at any time, sessions for creating or managing your own games and a character match-up tournament.
    Chelis and I took part in the March for Equality, led by DoTheDaringDew and the Starlight Cosplayer, singing Our Town raggedly whilst someone wailed on the guitar. It was incredibly fun and totally not cringey in any way whatsoever. I love feeling like i'm at a New Labour rally at a convention. Chelis also settled the debate on pineapple on pizza: YES.
    We then went back to the party suite to chill and watch some healthy wholesome basketball with lots of sweat-covered sinewy giants running around in minimal clothing before Shellshock and the others turned up for our Bible Study.
    In between, I was going to the concert for an hour or so here or there to party with my other friends. This is still a problem I have yet to solve. Advice: if you get to the room for a couple of hours, then go to the concert for couple, and bring your friends back, you're doing it right.
    This was when things got rather unusual...

The Concert and the Aftermath
I had returned from an hour or so's jumping around with the lads to resume our Bible Study, led by Father Rhetoric. In between the communion Coors and nachos, we took time to reflect on the holy writ of Doctor Kage:
1. Make sure there are decent amentities nearby, such as food places, cash machines, etc.
2. If a room has a kitchen area with at least a microwave, you are winning.
3. You score a six if it has a sink; unlike the hotel at BABS, this hotel does!
4. Thou shalt not do a Rainfurrest and jizz in the hottub.
5. A sword with a gun vs. a gun with a sword is trivial; it all depends who has the power of God and Anime on their side, now.
6. The party suite must be easily accessible and be spacious enough to hold several people sleeping, and this room was blessed with two TVs, more than enough seating, and of course, a spacious fridge for the booze and good lighting with quite tasteful antebellum-esque decor to look at your new cartoon horse filth purchases.
7. Keep all that and your computer etc. in a handy place nearby in your bag in case somebody pulls the fire alarm, and make sure that your tripod doesn't look like a gun.

We were hustled out, beers still in hand, into the freezing night air, and of course many memes were created, such as the cop pulling his gun on Twi plushies,  SWATCON and of course, three dickheads doing their best to turn some poor guy's car roof into a stage.
    It emerged that the police had pulled the fire alarm, and my colleague Shellshock managed to capture most of the event and observed most of the cars were not just local police, but out of towners from Dallas proper, and they all had AR15 rifles instead of sensible compact guns because Texas.
    It was a bomb threat.
    Thankfully, the concert was nearly over by this time and everyone had moved into the hotel opposite, and everybody started laughing, joking, even kicking up some impromptu jamming sessions, whilst the chairs, Tyler and Pepper, ensured the VIP guests had new rooms and made sure everyone else had water, coffee and so on, with the help of a lot of community brass hats including PurplTInkr and Chelis, T-posing inbetween directing traffic. All except for Shellshock, because the police had asked to get a copy of his footage as it would help, and is scared of any police presence,  as is befitting an Irishman.
    Yeah. That's what you get for all them jokes at my expense, boyo.
    Chelis helped a reataliation attempt, eager to get back at Shellshock for turning the BABS suite last year into a ball pit. When SS woke up the next morning, he found his floor was covered in potatoes.
    Thankfully, not much damage was done, save for the odd kicked-in door, and the next day, everyone was able to continue as normal.
    How did that go? Did I get the rights to the oil field? Will Chelis save the coal mine from Boss Hogg and Thatcher's closure attempts with his feminine wiles? Will Shellshock mistake it for a Tory conference and try to blow it up?
    Find out soon in Part Two: Gauntlets, Games, and God My Feet Hurt.

--Foal (Not Raoul) Duke

Comments (7)

  1. The obvious fake artifacting around Smily in the last image gives it away.

  2. Last image from what? Which video?




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