Reflections from JordanCon
What follows is a personal experience.
This year JordanCon hit different. As I look back on my second year attending, I can't help but draw comparisons between my first in 2021. Before we delve too far, I must cover a few prerequisite items. First, I have only been to JordanCon twice, neither of them "normal" in the context of JordanCon's storied history or their placement in time relative to The Wheel of Time show. Second, the full convention took place this year. All staples and traditions of the con were in full swing from karaoke to the dance party, to the beloved charity poker game; long time members were in their element. Third, JordanCon sold out for the first time ever. It's no secret that it has grown since the humble beginnings in 2009, but previous increases in attendance likely weren't as substantial. At the closing ceremonies of 2021 the staff was impressed, despite it being held during the pandemic, that 25% of attendees were first timers (Novices/Soldiers). 2022 likely brought a similar increase. Point being, I never attended a "normal" JordanCon and likely never will. JordanCon entered a new age, much like the larger fandom, due to the TV Show and explosion of new content about The Wheel of Time through Podcasts and social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter.
Now about how this convention hit different.
It won't be a surprise that it was the people, the fans, that drove the vibe. 2021 was capped around 500. A very manageable number for the staff, the vendors, the hotel, and attendees. It made circling around and meeting folks a breeze, I am an extrovert and thrive around people, especially my WoT people. 2021 was also the last convention before the debut of the show. My YouTube channel only numbered around 320 subscribers at the time. I was very unknown, except to those I directly interacted with online. This gave me a quick friend group, it was easy to move around to meet new folks as I always had that home base to return to.
However with over 1000+ folks in attendance this year, even this extrovert found it quite overwhelming at times. Not because I was tired of the people, but I didn't have enough time. This year I was actually recognized by many folks that I didn't recognize right at first. Of course I knew them all from online chats, twitter, and discord but I hadn't seen their faces yet. Many even stopped my wife and mentioned how much they loved seeing her on the channel, which really floored her. Parasociality was in full swing for me this year, not to a degree that it was uncomfortable or negative, but in a new experience kind of way. Further, I found myself not as available as in 2021. I constantly ran around and tried to spend time with my long time online friends, fellow moderators from The Wheel Reads and The Dusty Wheel, content creators, friends from last year, #TwitterOfTime, and all my new friends from this year. There weren't enough hours during the 4 days I spent at JordanCon.
Enough lamenting about how time flies when we have fun. If you watched my JordanCon2022 VLOG you know that this year it was quite hectic in the best possible way. As I stated earlier all of the traditional JordanCon late night events were here in 2022! This is a far cry from 2021, as restrictions relating to the pandemic caused those events to be cancelled. In 2021 we spent most nights in the lobby of the hotel or down at the bar. We hung out, played card or board games, and partook of general revelry. However, thanks to the return of the nightly traditions, I noticed that Friday and Saturday night hosted less lobby activity. This isn't to say that karaoke, the dance party, poker, or after dark panels weren't fun, they 100% were.
But I felt a sense of longing.
Everyone I wanted to hangout with were in the far flung corners of the Con spaces and, thanks to the gorgeous April weather, these spaces included the attached park and smoking area. A lap visiting each space took you 30 minutes to an hour as you stopped to converse with folks along the way. This is a good problem to have but, as someone that drifts between various groups throughout a night, it was exhausting. It felt as though I spent significantly more time in the spaces between groups than within the groups themselves. Despite the exhaustion I still had a blast and many of those conversations I had on-route to other areas were some of the best memories from JordanCon.
With the release of the TV show there was no surprise that a resurgence of interest in The Wheel Of Time occurred. This manifested in a new wave of online fandom which for many led to the discovery of the previously established fandom and by extension JordanCon. With such a large explosion in the fandom there are bound to be cultural shifts, and that was echoed by a few long time fans. It's not a lament but an observation. The last two JordanCon were each described as a shift away from the "feel" of the older ones. This is no doubt driven by the show and its reach but also the impact of the new wave a content creators in the fandom. If you ask each and every creator they will simply tell you that they are just a fan the same as you, and that is true. But this is an element near completely new to The Wheel of Time fandom and there are growing pains. I think there is some worry about cliquishness, ego, and image prevailing over the previous sense of family, community, and fun. For my part I hope that I do not contribute to any negative feelings or trends. I do not believe for a second that anyone else wants that either.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading my meandering ruminations. I like to look back and reflect on how experiences have impacted me. I hope to always learn something new from meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. JordanCon2022 definitely gave me plenty of opportunities for both. I hope that these words can also spur you dear reader into reflecting on your experiences and excite for the future ahead. If you missed it, both Bain & Chiad and The Rational Nerd also released articles pertaining to JordanCon#2022. Curious about some of the most entertaining and touching moments? Bain & Chiad has you covered. If you are interested in Michael Livingston's book, and the panel he was on, The Rational Nerd has a play by play of what went down. I encourage you to check them out and drop a comment with your thoughts.
VLOGs and Slide shows
The Bard of the Red Hand
Vance is a contributor to TheGreatBlight.com and creates content for YouTube. He also runs a Podcast. Make sure to checkout his creator page and follow him on TheGreatBlight.com for his next blog. If you want to support him so he can produce more content like this please consider checking out his Patreon.