SF Harry Potter Convention: Not As Sad As Expected

Before an angry mob of Snapes and Dementors attacks my apartment with giant goblets of fire (note to mob:I do NOT live in the Castro so you should probably mosey on down to the Mission or anywhere that is again, NOT THE CASTRO) I should say I really enjoyed myself at Azkatraz, this year's Harry Potter "Symposium" held in downtown SF. My expectations of costumed, lonely nerds with little to no social skills were, while not blown out of the water, diminished somewhat by the infectious and genuine enthusiasm of the participants. Read: kids in Hogwarts uniforms performing line dances.

This year marks the sixth incarnation of the Harry Potter Con. Each year the convention (and name) changes cities in order to allow fans from all over a chance to attend without paying too much in travel costs. The event is volunteer-run and totally internet-communicated. These guys tweet A LOT.
Last year's Portus (note to Portus: namewise, not as cool as Azkatraz) was held in Dallas, Texas. Can you even imagine being a Harry Potter fan and living in Dallas? I would probably write a lot of Ginny Weasley-related poetry whilst bemoaning my sad fate as the most misunderstood witch in the South. Also cutting. I would become a cutter.

Azkatraz began last Wednesday the 15th and ends today at the Parc55 Hotel downtown. While the majority of events and panels were held at the hotel, Friday's Quiddich match took place at the soccer fields in Golden Gate Park. This reporter managed to show up just in time for the Chinatown Dragons to win the tourney. In this IRL game of Quiddich the Snitch was a frisbee and I saw no broomsticks. I might have missed that detail due to my fascination with a group of adorable young people in Hogwarts uniforms playing a pick up game of "Capture the Bacon." I kind of fell in love with these kids but NOT IN A CREEPY WAY. Heh.


It would have been impossible to attend every event in the schedule but I did make it to the Wizard Wrock panel (rock bands! made of wizards!) to snap some pictures and, while milling around in the vendor room trying on hats and talking to some really talented artists, I ran into Dr. Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and author of Convergence Culture - Where Old and New Media Collide. (He was kind enough to grant me a really great interview about new media and the culture of fans which we'll run as it's own post at a later date.) Jenkins a brilliant man and manages to make complex conceptual ideas accessible and easy to understand, even for this writer who regularly uses the word "boners" in her tweets.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan, but for those of you who are (and I know you are LEGION) I would highly recommend attending next year's Symposium if only for the chance to see grown men and women giggle hysterically while waving wands at each other's privates and yelling "Engorgio!" and "Reducio!" at the top of their lungs.

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