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Helsinki Worldcon – Day 1

I got up early Wednesday since the Lounge and the art show were still pending. John got up at the same time and made toast and eggs with fish from the supermarket, plus of course coffee. He did this every day we were there, on most days we had this amazing smoked salmon that I really miss now.

We took the tram up to Messukeskus, and while John went to get his badge I headed to the Exhibits Hall. Once again it took a while to find someone who knew how what was what, but eventually I managed it and checked in with Clare Boothby. The Lounge was pretty much set up already thanks to industrious volunteers so I did some minor rearranging before going to hang my art.

The art show was impressive, with a lot of artists that I had never seen before as well as some familiar ones. I was positioned beside the delightful Lisa Konrad and had a pleasant chat with her as we both puzzled over the lovely but intimidating plain white panels. We’re both accustomed to the traditional convention pegboard. Eventually we armed ourselves with the hammers and nails provided and just went at it. I am happy to say it was a very successful art show for me and I sold 10 of the 12 hand-painted fans I brought.

Art and Lounge all sorted, it was time for my first cosplay of the convention. Bryan and Mette had organized a group costume as the Scandinavia and the World webcomic. My choice was King Europe and John was England, natch. I had a lot of fun in my crown and moustache and John seemed disturbingly at home with his monocle, I was please at how many people recognized my costume even without the rest of the group.

The convention center had a pretty decent selection of food options, none were cheap but neither were they much more expensive than the rest of the city. I had a really tasty jacket potato filled with a shrimp mayo mix for lunch and afterwards attempted to hit some panels but they all had insane queues and filled up quickly. The convention did its best to handle the situation and got extra space on subsequent days, but attendance was definitely higher than anticipated and they restricted at-the-door sales to just day passes, with limited amounts available each day.

Towards evening a few of us decided to go into town for dinner, to a place called Naughty Brgr about ten minutes from our AirBnb. By the time we got to the restaurant I was feeling unwell, very similar to how I felt that first night in Stockholm, in fact. I left the gang to their own devices, took my burger to go and went back to the AirBnB to have a lie down. Given the previous experience I decided it was wisest to call it a night. Doing the math, I realized both times I’d had a shrimp meal I was knocked out, so I reluctantly decided to give shrimp a miss for the rest of the trip. The evidence is anecdotal but I had no further problems, so there is that.

Helsinki Worldcon Day 2

I woke up feeling fine, so after another delicious husband-cooked breakfast we headed out. The previous night John had figured out where to catch the train proper to Messukeskus, instead of the tram. It’s very simple once you know and much quicker, we were onsite in ten minutes instead of thirty. The convention provided every member with travel pass good for the week, which meant there was never any hesitation about just popping into town; free, fast, and frequent is hard to beat.

I spent a few hours in the Lounge, had a wander through the Trade Hall and exhibits, then headed to the AirBnB to do some laundry. And here we ran into the one disadvantage to the AirBnB situation, one that most vacationers probably won’t run into but which we managed to confront twice; we had one key for two people. I didn’t notice until after I’d stopped at the supermarket and gotten some flea market bargains, so I parked myself at a café and waited for John to come rescue me.

I got back to the convention in time for the very end of the Clipping concert, basically just the encore. I hadn’t rushed back since by all accounts the room was full, but I’m glad I decided to poke my head in to catch the encore. Daveed Diggs legendary speed rapping was on display and I enjoyed the brief glimpse I got.

Worldcon 75 did not have room parties, which has been the case at all the non-US conventions I’ve been to thus far. I dearly miss them, and the lack of them at Loncon was one of the things I thought really did not work. But in Helsinki what they did was set aside a couple of areas near the lobby for parties in the evenings. It wasn’t quite room parties but it was a decent alternative under the circumstances.

One was a largeish room, while the other was a hall area near the entrance bar and café seating. The result was essentially three areas, two of them designated to a different party each, plus the seating from the café.

This meant that the alcohol available was mainly from the bar, with some of the parties offering tokens to exchange for libations. It wasn’t quite as nice as room parties, décor was limited and the same space was of course used on multiple days, but it worked reasonably well. One advantage over the Loncon fan village model was that it wasn’t in a massive high-ceilinged conference centre hall. It was cosier and the atmosphere more party-like. Having a separate space from from the daytime convention activities also meant that it felt more properly like an evening treat instead of a very long extended day.

Talking it over with John we agreed that the main advantage was the feeling of possibility, having everything all in one space feels limited, it becomes one big stream of sameness. Different and separate spaces add expectation; you go to see what’s up and check out the room next door, the potential just seems greater. Knowing you could easily head out to a bar in the city definitely helped as well, it just felt more dynamic and fun to me.

This night the party hosts in the hall were San Jose 2018 (Worldcon 76) while Chinese fandom had the room; we spent a few hours hanging out and chatting, then a bunch of us got the train into town to check out the Tractor Bar which some folks had had dinner at the night before. It was a combo restaurant/bar/nightclub in a farmhouse theme, including a real, fullsize tractor right there on the dancefloor. We drank some nice local liquors, at least one terrible one, and at one point a Polish fan taught us some Socialist worker songs.

Afterwards we went to a terrible little club called Lady Moon which we spotted lurking up a seedy looking alley, we were super drunk by then so we managed to have a pretty great time anyway. John caught up with us at the Black BBQ burger truck outside the station and we staggered home about 4:30am, a trend that continued most of the con.

(Old post recovered from Dreamwidth)