Looking to try something new?
Just think about it for a moment: conventions are a place where hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people with similar interests gather for a weekend to have fun and celebrate the things that they love. You have a pretty high chance of finding someone compatible with you at one; someone that you can share your passions with.. This is especially true for people who come from more rural areas, or places where it’s hard to meet new people.
There are conventions to suit every interest, from comics and animation, to science fiction and video games. There are even lots of bigger conventions that will cater to multiple interests. You can even find some very specific conventions that cater to special interests, like card games, robotics, or even subjects like biology. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on anime and comics conventions, but you could apply the tips here to any convention that you might go to, even if it’s of the more serious sort!
Sure, a big part of conventions is about dressing up, seeing the sights, and just having fun, but many of them also include special events. Many of them have dance rooms that are active all night, for instance. Also, for those of you who are looking for a drink or a party, find some buddies to go to the hotel or nearby bars with; it’s even possible to hook up with someone for a private party in their hotel room. It can be really fun to hang out with a local, or even someone who has been to the convention that you're at before. Those people will likely be able to show you the ropes, as well as some cool places to have fun at. Most of all, though, be sure to keep an open mind, and always remember that there’s safety in numbers. So, you should be sure to explore things with a group, or at least have a buddy nearby that you can communicate with.
That brings us to our next topic – safety. While the majority of people at a convention are just there to hang out, have fun, and meet new friends, like at any large gathering, you should still always have your personal safety in mind. Be sure to carry a cell phone at all times, and be aware of how to contact the convention security, as well as the local police. Remember that your best weapons are often your phone and your camera -- call someone out if they make you feel uncomfortable, and don’t be afraid to take a photograph for evidence! Stay alert, and stay with a group of people you know and trust. Also, you should always have a friend available close by to back you up.
Now that you have determined all of that, you might be wondering what the best way to meet someone is. I say, go for your interests. Do you like to play games? Hang out in the game room and start talking to people! Like to dress up? Find some other cosplayers, share techniques, and admire your outfits together. Check out the artists alley, and the dealer’s room to see the sights. Most of all, strike up some conversation. You can even just kick back and people watch. You could start conversations by asking for a photo, or by complimenting someone’s costume, if you wanted to.
Most conventions will have a wide variety of panels to choose from to suit your needs. Keep in mind that a panel in which you interact with other people, such as a trivia or game-playing panel, is usually a better way to meet people than attending a masquerade, sitting in to watch a movie, or attending a lecture, since most of the audiences attention will be on what’s happening onstage and there won’t be as much time to mingle. Still, you can stick around after the panel – or show up early – to see if anyone seems interested in chatting it up. You never know who you might meet.
As always, remember to be respectful of other people’s personal space and make your boundaries clear. If you do, others should return this courtesy, as well. Always have a friend available that knows where you are and when to expect you back to the hotel room, and be aware of how to contact convention security if necessary. Be safe and smart, but have fun. I would not recommend going to a convention determined to find someone to date, though. Instead, just be yourself and let things happen naturally. You might just surprise yourself (and maybe someone else, as well).