JJ's Trip to BronyCon 2013

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jjrocks
Click here for all the awesome photos from bronycon

This summer has been the most hectic summer I have ever had. From getting an internship, to vacations, to being a co-founder of a startup, this summer has been ridiculous. However, no event has matched what happened between August 1 – 4. This story is as story of firsts, my first convention and meeting my first internet friend. This is the story of BronyCon.



For those who do not know who I am, my name is JJ. Former leader of osu!monthly and a contributor to the community!. I did a JJ’s trip to ____ on the forums when I felt that there was a large event deemed important in my life. These events include traveling to the White House to going to my first concert, and even getting my nails done. These events leave a lasting impression on my life and are generally fun to share with others BronyCon was no different from the others.

While I did not display myself as an extreme fan of the show, I did enjoy My Little Pony and did like the content the fans produced. In fact, I never intended to watch it until ztrot threw an episode at my face and urged me to watch it. As the months went by I enjoyed looking at all the animations people created, the art they threw out, and the tumblrs they made. I had not heard of BronyCon until Kyonko talked about her intention to go to there later that year. For me, I had never been to a convention, never owned any MLP gear, and never thought about cosplaying. However, after a quick look up it turned out BronyCon was in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, which was an hour drive for me. This meant that it was within the realm of possibility for me to go to the convention and meet with her. Over the next few months, she urged me to go to BronyCon until finally; I promised I would purchase the tickets for it.

Over the next few months we spent time figuring out who would come. We finally got the list down to three people: Kyonko Hizara, iMuffin, and I. As we played the waiting game, we talked over Facebook and Skype to figure out the things we would do. I worked and saved up a good amount of money to spend at the convention. About 2 weeks before I left I realized I should probably grab a real life friend as well. Jake, a friend for about 3 years and a fan of the show, had some interest and bought a ticket. We decided to carpool in order to save gas. With the final set of people ready to go, all we had to do is wait.

Finally, on August 1 we started our journey towards BronyCon. I met with Jake in DC instead of my home as I had a small internship celebration I had to attend. We drove about 50 minutes into the land of Maryland. We found some parking in a garage and headed to the Hilton, the place where they held registration.



Once I entered the area, I saw a line that seemed to end right at the escalator. I asked, “Is this the end of the line” he shook his head and pointed us towards the other side of the hallway. Jake grinned as he saw the disappointment that skirted my face. We trudged our way towards the back of the line and waited until we could grab our passes.



I texted Kyonko as we finally reached the back of the line telling her that we were in the Hilton and that she could come down at any time. As she had already gotten her ticket earlier in the day, she was already settling down. A few minutes later, she replied saying she would be coming down soon. The line continued to move slowly yet steadily. I passed the time talking to the people who were next to me in line as well as Jake. We observed some interesting cosplay including a Vinyl Scratch blasting music from a white boombox. However, none of that mattered as I was waiting to see my first friend from the internet. I checked my phone periodically waiting for updates on her location.



After about twenty minutes of staring in awe at some cosplay and discussions with line mates, I received and update that said she was grabbing some dinner and would be there soon. I could feel myself get nervous at this point. This was the first time I had ever met an online friend and I had literally no idea how I would react. The main reason this was so frightening was that my online life was completely separated from my offline life. I barely mentioned my online friends with my offline friends and vice versa. For these two worlds to finally mold into one unified world, you start to wonder how well these worlds will translate. For example, Skype is a good way of conversing but how well does it translate into the real world. You are not staring at a computer in real life so will interactions change and how so? Is it harder to be so bold offline than it is online? All of these thoughts quickly passed through my head as I waited in line looking for her.

Kyonko and I had known each other for about 2 years and talked quite often. We used to have Skype calls nearly every day and we had a close connection with each other. So as I turned my head and saw a girl in an Applejack hat walking with her mom I yelled at Jake “Save my spot!” and ran. I screamed “Kyonko!” as I ran towards her and saw her look towards me as her face lit up. She screamed “JJ!” and ran towards me and at that moment I hugged her, picked her up, and spun her around twice. This was one of the biggest and best moments of my life. This is how my online life turned into reality.



After we finished hugging, I spoke for a few minutes with her and greeted her mother as well. After some small talk her mom, she went back to get something to drink and I took Kyonko to the place where Jake saved my spot. I introduced her to Jake and then I started to talk about everything I could think of. We went from the news in osu! to our favorite scenes in My Little Pony to discussions about our internet life. One comment that was made during our time there was the lack of black people there. I joked around saying that I should get a whiteboard and count all the black people at the convention. We laughed and continued to wait in line to get our passes. We met new people and saw some interesting cosplays there as Kyonko and I gave each other hugs extremely often. After spending hours in this line, we finally got our passes and pamphlets for the next three days. We discussed our plans for tomorrow and after that Jake and I went back down to Arlington, VA, Kyonko, and her mom went back to their hotel.



The true start of BronyCon did not happen until Friday, August 2. We had to arrive slightly late that day since it was my sister’s birthday and I wanted to take her out to breakfast. As we walked into the entrance, I stopped and told Jake “One second let me pull something out of my backpack.” I took my backpack out and pulled out a whiteboard that said “__ other black people here”. Jake laughed and said “You’re horrible” and I could not agree with him more. We set out to go to the vendor line since the panels we were interested in would not start for another hour or so. When the vendor hall opened, the line was quickly rushed in and we started looking for things to buy.



We finally met with Kyonko an hour later. She was wearing her Princess Cadance cosplay, which looked amazing. We discussed our plans for the day and decided to meet up at the Friendship is Witchcraft panel in a few hours. We took the time before to see the voice actors’ panel, which was fantastic, and even spent some time reflecting on My Little Pony and what the fandom was like. We saw Kyonko as we prepared seats for the Friendship is Witchcraft panel, which is a parody of the My Little Pony series. They even premiered a new episode of Witchcraft at the convention, which I loved dearly. We decided to split for a while and agreed to meet up at the Brony Musicians panel.

The dozens of vendors that were at BronyCon distracted me and, as a result, I was running slightly late for the Musicians panel. As I went in I texted Kyonko asking where she was, she responded by waiving her hand in the crowd. If you remember earlier from this thread I mentioned that there were three people who would be at this convention. Sitting right next to Kyonko was a friend that I had met in my earlier days, iMuffin in his Discord cosplay. iMuffin and I have gone back quite a bit and have enjoyed each other’s presence on numerous occasions. He was a close friend in the past and of course, I gave him the biggest hug I could. We continued to watch the musician panel, which turned out to be somewhat painful. Once the panel was done, I continued to talk to him as well as his girlfriend, Lydia, and his other friend Andrew. While many of our discussions did revolve around the happenings of osu, they also did forge into general topics we could all relate to. We ended with a hug and continued doing all things brony wise.



Over the next 3 days, we continued hanging out and enjoying the time, we had together. All of the MLP swag was bought and general amounts of awesome fun times were had. I watched as the black people count rose on my whiteboard and spent a considerable amount of money on plushies. One event that stood out was the cosplay contest, which Kyonko, iMuffin, Lydia, and Andrew participated in. Being how awesome they were iMuffin and Lydia got 2nd place in the category of best duo and Kyonko got 1st place in best original interpretation. Of course, I stood up, cheered for them the entire time, and took plenty of pictures. They had worked hard on their costumes and it certainly paid off.



Overall, BronyCon was amazing. I went to fantastic panels and learned a ton about animation and the fandom. For example Journey to the Spark, a panel that was about the upcoming My Little Pony fan movie, brought excitement on how big the brony community was and how determined they are. There were several panels dedicated to some animation the community did as well as some apps they have produced. No matter the stance one has on My Little Pony, it is hard to deny it any legitimacy in terms of the hard work they put into the fandom. From the parodies that were produced, to the completely new animations they make, to all of the artwork and products they put countless hours in, and even the convention itself, the community really does work as hard as they can. This convention was glorious, the vendors produced some fantastic products, and the events all seemed to flow with barely a hitch. While the people ranged from completely normal to utterly strange it made me glad to be part of a nice and somewhat loving community. As the convention hit its last day, it was sad to see it all end.

However, our story does not exactly end at the end of BronyCon. We had decided a long while back to get some dinner as a final goodbye and we stuck to that decision. We went to get a ton of pizza and some cheesecake and went back to the hotel lobby to eat. It took a crazy two hours for us to get organized but once we did, we were happy to nom on all of the pizza. During the wait for that pizza, it gave me some good time to reflect on the entire experience.



As the sun set into the harbor of Baltimore, there was one discussion that stuck out from the rest and that was how it feels to meet an Internet friend. It was the first time Kyonko had met one time too. We said something interesting

The internet is here. The internet is real. I’m touching it and it feels weird.


The internet to reality conversation can be great yet strange. To be able to hug someone instead of saying “/me hugs” is completely different. I have to admit, I prefer the feeling and comfort of an actual hug than the word “*hugs*”. The playful shoves we had of course cannot be replicated on the internet. Body language actually matters, the way you present yourself in conversation tells a great deal more than it ever can on a video call. Of course, you do not have the luxury of thinking about what you want to say in real life as well meaning that chats are nothing like real ones. The one thing that does translate really well is the video call conversations and actual conversations. During our time in line on Thursday, the conversations we had were very similar to the ones we had on Skype. In terms of Internet vs. reality, there were large differences with each other. While the base principles are the same, you do have more to work with in a physical conversation.

Once the food arrived, we took one final group picture and went back to the hotel. For me the walk back was a bittersweet moment. To have such a great time, you really do not want it to end. You know that you will not see these friends for at least a year and that in itself felt horrible. There were plenty of good times I had with Kyonko and iMuffin and going to a convention like this could not have been perfect without them. As we finished our pizza, we saw a moving truck that had many of the BronyCon staff. They were moving boxes from the Hilton to the truck and we decided that the last thing we would do together is help them pack and move. They were grateful and gave us all BronyCon branded water bottles as a result. We talked a lot more in the lobby and then, finally, we said our goodbyes.



There are a lot of things I have missed within this story. The sign was a hit, multiple people took pictures, and I even got an interview out of it for the local newspaper. There was a time when I hugged multiple voice actors as they were walking around. The fact that the only food we ate was subs until the last meal. The fact that I stumbled onto a person who just happened to have Google Glass. The hundreds of StreetPasses I got and yet how no one had the final piece to complete a puzzle. In addition, of course, more details on the panels I went to and the cosplay I encountered. However, these can all be discussed if people want to learn more.

There is a lot I could say at the end of this story. The Internet is a strange place and finally getting to see reality spawn from it is an unforgettable experience. A week ago, I could assure you that I knew the differences between online and offline but I never exactly knew how different they were until they crossed paths. You start to think of chats not as a long conversation but as a medium to leave messages. You start to remember that there is a person behind that computer who has his or her own life. These online friends have their own issues to attend to, that you cannot chastise a person for leaving a computer even if they did not say something like “brb”. It is odd, none of the terms have changed but the definitions have been spun with a completely new meaning. The internet is an odd place. The community that has formed via osu! can be strange but this convention has told me it can be very wonderful. Meeting Kyonko and iMuffin has been fantastic and I truly do hope those who can meet up with their online friends will, as this is an experience I will never forget.


The entire group at the end of the journey.


Thanks for reading. Feel free to ask any questions.

Tl;dr: I went to BronyCon and met with Kyonko and iMuffin and it was fun.
Brian OA
Sweet

first

Once more, I've greatly underestimated bronies
Kyonko Hizara
And never to forget how we intently stared at the staff from inside the hotel when they were packing things up.
DaddyCoolVipper
Ahh this entire thing is heartwarming, I'm glad you guys had fun




also that whiteboard joke is 10/10 golden tier
Blazevoir
Soooooooooooooooo jelly D=

Either way, glad you guys had fun /)
Dodecagon
Amazing, I'm meeting some online friends at comic con this year + IRL friends. Hopefully it turns out ok .

I"M SOO JELLY I WANTED TO GO TO BRONYCON
DNR
did you get laid
Kanye West
of course he did, he's jj
Birdy

CDFA wrote:

did you get laid
haha
hahahahahahaha
hahahahahhaha
ahhahahahaah
ajajajajjajjaja

as if it is not obvious
Quaraezha

jjrocks wrote:

You may have attended BronyCon
But nothing will break my glasses spirit.

D33d
The future U.S. President is a brony. AMERICA IS DOOMED!
Blue Stig
Wait that was in Baltimore?!?
That's just an hour away from my house!
Even though I don't watch MLP


...

That's it next Magfest I'm lending TheKiltedMoskito my suit.
Kaona
Kyonko is so cute~

Looks like you guys had an awesome time! Too bad I don't live in the US, looks so fun.
UnderminE
Glasses competitions gogogo I am pleased
Kitsunemimi

jjrocks wrote:

You start to remember that there is a person behind that computer who has his or her own life.
You also start to read their posts in their voice, and you can also "hear" the expression in their voice as you become more familiar with them :3
(though I guess this can apply to simply talking to each other on Skype)

But yeah, it really is a wonderful experience to meet other people from osu! for the first time~ First time conventions are also awesome~ (the bigger the better imo). Thanks for sharing your experiences with us again JJ :D. Your post is top quality as always, I enjoy reading these a lot~
Foxtrot

Kitsunemimi wrote:

jjrocks wrote:

You start to remember that there is a person behind that computer who has his or her own life.
You also start to read their posts in their voice, and you can also "hear" the expression in their voice as you become more familiar with them :3
(though I guess this can apply to simply talking to each other on Skype)
i hope people don't do that with me because then every line i write would sound like hell

anyway, this trip was amazing. thank you for sharing.
Cyclohexane
hey, remember when I said I'd make a report of my 2 weeks at dkun's place

that sure did happen

also good job surviving in enemy territory jj
Topic Starter
jjrocks

Kitsunemimi wrote:

jjrocks wrote:

You start to remember that there is a person behind that computer who has his or her own life.
You also start to read their posts in their voice, and you can also "hear" the expression in their voice as you become more familiar with them :3
(though I guess this can apply to simply talking to each other on Skype)

But yeah, it really is a wonderful experience to meet other people from osu! for the first time~ First time conventions are also awesome~ (the bigger the better imo). Thanks for sharing your experiences with us again JJ :D. Your post is top quality as always, I enjoy reading these a lot~
That's very true, you really do start to hear their expression. Thanks for the comment Kitsu <3

CDFA wrote:

did you get laid
Choose whatever answer you think is right ;)
DNR

jjrocks wrote:

Choose whatever answer you think is right ;)
: o
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