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And I have to say I really enjoyed myself.

I didn't get to catch up with people as much as I wanted, but I knew that was never going to happen. I did get to see lots of people, and spent the saturday evening in the bar with one lot, and dinner with another lot, so there was a bit of chilling. Also got to help a few people out with things, which was nice to be able to do.

Friday was good, as we got there early and set up was quite limited. There was a distinct lack of tables, which was a bit of an issue for the cosplay desk . Ended up with a ring of chairs, which did the job, but wasn't really an equal match. Cat, Joe and I did a bit of bag stuffing, which is a long and tedious job, but seemed to be going pretty smoothly this time. Then went off and found people, had a pillow fight with Amber, mocked Reiss, met up with Jake, Kaka, Lex and various others for dinner in the Ibis bar and then finished off a bit in the hotel. There was a sofabed in the room, so no one needed a sleeping bag on the floor which was nice.

There was a Muslim peace conference going on on the other side of the excel center. Good thing: walking down the street past a couple of Muslim women wh shouted "free hugs!" Bad thing: there was a riot and a stabbing Saturday night. Lots of police and metal detectors next day.

Friday breakfast reminded us of how rude the Novatel staff can be. Joe went to sign us in, I spotted Ilpala and Leena and went to say hello. I was swiftly stopped by a diminutive french woman.
"You need to give your room number at the desk."
"I know, my partners doing that. I jsut want to..."
"Then you have to wait for us to give you a table."
"Yes, but I..."
"You have to wait here."
Fine. Whatever. I'm glad we get breakfast paid for because it's expensive and not great.

Speaking of food, the Chinese on the expo groups is really good, and not too expensive if you have a set meal. They also do whole eel and whole sucking pig: those are a little bit pricier! Don't eat in the Ibis restraunt. It was a real shame that the last meal of the weekend was so poor. The food wasn't too bad, but half the menu was missing and the service was appalling.

Back down to the hall, still no tables. We make a desk for the laptop and speakers, and set to work. Jessica who helped at May was there and she was amazing. Everytime I thought of something to do, she was there doing it. It was so nice to have someone who knew what to do and did it. Soon we had Leena, Kat, Amy, Nert, Andrew, Nia etc arrive and the desk was nicely manned for the morning rush. Lack of tables meant no Nert tech, but that wasn't esential. Again, having a team who knew what they were doing and did it was great.

I really like running the backstage at expo. It's a really good feeling to know that you are helping lots of other cosplayers have a good time and show themselves off. Most of them are much younger and less experienced than the ones at conventions, and many cosplayers are the socially awkward, bullied geeky sorts, so helping them get on stage, show off and enjoy themselves is really nice. It's still a lot of hard work managing that queue though. Getting everyone in order and making sure they stay there, then making sure they're all happy, watered and fed sugar is the main task unil the show gets started. Once we're on the move, they still need to be kept as comfortable as possible. Cosplayers are often bored, uncomfortable and nervous, so they need someone who knows what is going on and is very confident to keep them reassured. It's important that the right groups are directed to the right places, and people aren't split up from their groups or pushed into other groups by mistake. Aside from that, each entry needs to be briefed and encouraged just before they go on stage. It's important to tell them that they're looking good and compliment their costume as it came be very daunting to know you're going to step out in front of hundreds of people any moment. Then of course there's the presenters to look after and make sure they're watered, and any medical or personal crisis that might arise.

The quality of cosplay this expo seemed even better than ever. From what I remember, you get a few really good costumes, and many Narutos, Bleach captains, organisation XIIs etc, nohting particularly stunning. This year there were some fantastic costumes, and even the usual cosplays were pretty good. One of the junior groups was a set of halloween town charecters - so halloween Sora as per the game, then they had designed their own halloween Kairi, Roxas and Namine. There was also a King Micky, which got an incredible cheer.

Costimes of epic included a battle-sister from warhammer, which was so well constructed; a nekobus from Totoro (bus cosplay! with 16 legs!); a really well done Ryo-Ohki (she had a small child latched to her for about half an hour!); Uber-nred's vairious Soul Calibur cosplays (I loved Nightmare's Soul-Edge); and SJ Bonner's steam punk group. Sean and co always do really good costumes, but these were beyond awesome.

I myself was Misty from Pokemon (because Joe wanted to be Ash) and Mink. Seeing the awesomeness around me made me wonder if I should be putting togetther better cosplays for expo. But I think I need to make sure that I'm in something very cool and very miminal, as I'm riunning around so much. Even Mink's tail was a bit of a pain. I had a moment of shame when I spotted Joe on stage and realised I'd sewn Pikachu to the inside of the jacket. (Rather than lining it, I'd made two idenitcal jackets and sewn them together, thus the only difference between inside and out was the pockets.) Fixed that on sunday.

All in all, a long weekend of much craziness and comardery, and if I didn't have more exciting things cming first, I'd be looking forward to may. If you were at expo in the masquerade, let me know how I did and whether you' like me to do any more or anything differently next time. Thanks again to everyone who helped on the desk and made it all go so well. I love you guys :)
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