Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer Kickoff: Clockwork Alchemy and FanimeCon 2015

Thanks to convention scheduling, I spent the past week and a half at Clockwork Alchemy/FanimeCon in San Jose and Generation Beauty in Los Angeles. Between the two conventions, I also spent several lovely days at Disneyland. While I hope to post about Generation Beauty and Disneyland in the next few days, today I will talk about one of my favorite weekends out of the year: FanimeCon and Clockwork Alchemy!

FanimeCon, also known as just Fanime, is a fan-run anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture convention which takes place annually on Memorial Day weekend. Started by a small group of anime fans 21 years old, FanimeCon has since grown to become one of the largest anime conventions in North America with an attendance of over 20,000 people.

I first attended FanimeCon when I was in graduate school six years ago. While I've since been to numerous anime and culture conventions (including WonderCon, Star Trek Las Vegas, Comic-Con, and Generation Beauty), Fanime remains close to my heart due to its welcoming environment and enthusiastic attendees. As a cosplayer (aka "someone who dresses up for conventions"), I've never received more support and positivity as I have at Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy.

Clockwork Alchemy started in 2012 as a concurrent convention inspired by Fanime 2011's popular steampunk theme. While steampunk and Japanese pop culture seem to see an odd pairing at first glance, the two actually compliment each other quite well, with attendees on both sides learning more about both genres. While I initially spent most of my time on the Fanime side, I was lured by the offer or tea and cookies and ultimately ended up as a staff volunteer for Clockwork Alchemy.

Tea and cookies
Tea and cookies!
Since I spent most of this year working on the Clockwork Alchemy side, I will spend the rest of this post discussing my favorite parts of the convention! For more information about Fanime, please check out their website!

Clockwork Alchemy takes place at the San Jose Doubletree, with round-the-clock shuttles transporting attendees to and from the San Jose Convention Center (where Fanime takes place). I've always viewed the San Jose Doubletree as the perfect place to have a steampunk convention, as the lighting and color scheme compliment the various decorations and light fixtures staff members put up for the weekend. 

Clockwork Alchemy Artist's Room
Artist's Room
My favorite part about Clockwork Alchemy is its interactive nature. For instance, they have various panels where you learn how to make your own goggles or alter a corset pattern. For those with young children, there are staff members who host game rooms and arts and crafts tables. In the "War Room", there are various self-defense classes, a shooting range (using nerf guns), and opportunities to fly mylar airships. For those wanting a snack, there is a tea room with staff members who serve tea and cookies in fine china. Like I said previously, Clockwork Alchemy won me over with the tea and cookies.

Airship Racing in War Room
War Room
Ever see a real telegram machine? Clockwork Alchemy has a fully functional one, and you can use text messaging to send paper telegrams to your friends in the convention. The messages are printed out using an automated typewriter and hand delivered by a volunteer runner who shouts "Telegram for..." with the perfect booming voice.

Aetheric Message Telegram Machine
Telegram room
For those of you who enjoy big band, swing, ska, and even goth music, Clockwork Alchemy hosts two nights of dancing, with daytime ballroom dancing classes. If you're like me and hate dancing, there is plenty of space to simply sit and listen!

Aural Alchemy Live Music and Dancing
Live Music and Dancing
As always, my least favorite part of Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy is when it ends and San Jose returns to "normal". I have every intention of returning next year, and am already planning out potential cosplays and craft ideas. My hope is to continue attending Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy in the years to come. Since Clockwork Alchemy is such a family friendly event, I'll probably take along any future offspring I have as well! Can't think of a better way to kick off the unofficial start of summer!

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