When I first attended in 1993, I had one of the greatest experiences of my life. After being in fandom for several years and hearing about this con and others, it was a thrill to attend my first one. It was the most perfect of all the cons I would attend (MW years were from 1993 to 2011, missing only 1994 and 2004). These were MY PEOPLE! Ha, fandom was a lot smaller then but bursting with positive energy, and the con reflected that. Like-minded fannish people were my soulmates, and I loved the unofficial con 'uniform' of jeans and fannishly-themed T-shirts and jewelry. Comfort above all! ;)
I loved everything about the con: the crazy, packed Dealers' Room, the people dealing out of their rooms, the decorated doors, the vids, the panels, the parties...meeting people I'd only previously corresponded with was a great pleasure, and meeting new people, too. In those days, you didn't get feedback for your stories and art much at all. If a zine editor decided to publish LOCs in a subsequent or kindly send along comments, it could still be months or years after your fanworks saw publication. LJ was heady stuff with the immediate and numerous comments and feedback ten years ago, but now most on-line platforms are like pre-Internet days, ironically.
Some of my fondest memories are of times spent at that con. My roommate Khylara and I became annual door decorators, choosing themes like slash (It's Raining Men) and winning some prizes (Best Pop Culture Prize for our Christian Bale door). There were dinners and parties and just informal get-togethers. Before the hotel changed things, they had some courtyards with fountains that were great for reading zines or just enjoying the sun.
The hotel's employees really enjoyed MWC Weekend. The restaurant put up posters of movies and played TV themes during the con. They were always intrigued by the door decorations and had fun, too.
I remember Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon dolls making out in their own dollhouse while newbies watched Due South and the series finale of Smallville. I remember hours of vids and searching the Dealers' Room for treasures. Every year I bought a new piece of jewelry and bought my year's worth of zines at the con.
You could just start a conversation with strangers and bond by the time it was over. It was the first time I talked with someone who understood about characters taking over a story. At my first con, I sat down at my first panel and thought, I did it! I really did it! I'm here! :)
So why did I stop going after my last trip in 2011? A lot of reasons, which probably applied to other people, too. Fandom's getting older and poorer. The economy might be great for the 1%, but the rest of us have to struggle. And dealing with the airlines? Every year it got more aggravating, not to mention less flights available at good times getting in and out of Lansing.
The con hotel had changed ownership a few times, and they definitely didn't consider us a top draw anymore. They were more interested in corporate business and didn't bother putting up posters or playing soundtracks in the restaurant anymore. Fortunately the Con Committee noticed and changed hotels, ironically returning to the hotel that had become uninterested in their business almost 20 years ago. I ended up going the first time after they moved and stopped the year before they left. :)
The con itself had lost energy. The vids were practically non-existent (the Internet killed those), the Dealers Room had once been so packed that there were dealers selling out of their rooms due to lack of tables and then half the tables were empty in the last few years, and the Art Show exhibited only half the items of previous years. The Art Auction used to take 4 hours to get through all the items but then was reduced to 2 hours, if that.
I guess the biggest disappointment were the panels. The schedule used to be packed into the wee hours, but during the last few years I went there were significant gaps in the schedule. Only a few people might show up for most panels.
Finally, people were fed up with the room lottery. Some years you knew if you had a room in the host hotel only a few months after the previous cons, but other years you had to wait until only three or four months before the next con, and one memorable year notifications didn't go out until a month before. I talked to at least three people who quit going because of the lottery.
Me? Finances and dealing with the airlines did me in, exhaustion with the room lottery, and sadness over the con's lack of energy. A lot of familiar faces were gone, and the con was a shell of its former self.
I don't know if it's still the same story, but they almost cancelled this year due to low attendance, so who knows? But it's still doing business, so people must be having fun. :) And I'll always remember the great times I had. Things just change sometimes.
This entry has been cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment on either entry as you wish. :)