You’ve seen the pictures—at least, you should have. Detroit’s Youmacon 2018 was a cosplay smorgasbord.
After battling out post-con depression, Matchstick Cosplay and Darling Otaku are here reminisce on their Youmacon experiences from last month. You may remember Matchstick Cosplay from our Cosplay 101 series, which is a detailed guide for beginners interested in breaking into the art of character costume-play. Both Darling Otaku and Matchstick Cosplay spent the entire weekend of Youmacon getting into character and jumping between cosplays.
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Surviving any convention in cosplay can be tough, especially when you’re at a huge convention. In 2017, over 22,000 people attended. The convention itself spans across two gigantic buildings and one somewhat confusing floorplan (GM Renaissance Center = Water Temple). Navigating through the con can be tough for people not in costume, but for cosplayers who may be in uncomfortable costumes with large props, it can be a special challenge. Here are some tips to get you (and your costume!) through the weekend for next year:
1. Get a [hotel] room.
For people who live near and have been to Detroit, you know that parking can be a tricky thing. The convention is in downtown, so you can choose either the convenience of parking near the con and paying through the nose (like at the Atwater Parking Garage), or parking further away and lugging your whole costume onto the people mover. Greektown may or may not be an option depending on other competing (Sports-ball) events. And with the neverending construction/road closures on the Detroit freeways, you’ll want to be driving as little as possible.
To minimize the inconvenience, save up for a hotel room close to (or at) the convention’s center at the Renaissance Center. It’s much easier to take all of the cosplay luggage to the hotel BEFORE the con gets too crazy (optimally, Thursday), and being able to get dressed in cosplay at the room. It saves a lot of time on the commute, and when a full day of costuming is over, you can go back to the room and change into a comfy anime t-shirt, and still take advantage of the late night events like the rave, game rooms, and late panels!
Note: if you can’t afford to get a hotel, do make an effort to carpool next year. You can organize a carpool or Uber/Lyft group (at your own discretion) by utilizing the official Youmacon Facebook group.
2. Plan out your events
When in cosplay, know that looking like a boss can slow you down! People tend to react positively to cosplayers, stopping them for pictures every hundred feet. Oftentimes, you can strike up a conversation out of nowhere and find someone with the same interests as you. You may even end up following them on IG or becoming actual friends. However, this can mean losing track of time. You risk missing some events or panels you wanted to see if you don’t plan ahead. Make a list of all the panels you really want to see and prioritize.
With the new Attendify Youmacon mobile app, this was easier than in years prior, where you needed to hunt down a paper handout to get your list together. The app was a big improvement! It allowed you to set reminders in your phone of when events were starting, and also contained useful maps of both buildings. Just make sure to allocate some travel time and room for stoppage when you’re planning. Remember, you may have to account for the distance between the Ren Cen and Cobo, which are blocks apart.
But, most importantly, remember to go with the flow at the con! It’s okay to miss some of your events if you’re still having fun!
3. Pack the essentials when you’re on the go.
Being out at the con probably means that you won’t want to take breaks to go back to the car or the hotel room. Pack a small bag with the essentials that you might need for the day. Your ID, deodorant, a water bottle, medication (especially painkillers for my ladies and gents wearing high heels), DEODORANT, some extra cash, and protein bars are essential for when you’re out on the con floor (Did we mention deodorant?). As always, make sure to take breaks when you need them and DRINK WATER.
Pro-tip for next year: make the easy investment and purchase a reusable bottle that clips on your bag/purse. If you forget, both locations at the con have food courts, so you will be able to purchase drinks, but it’s a lot more convenient to fill up at a water fountain than waiting in line just because you’re parched.
Speaking of food, this year, the food court at the lower level of the Ren Cen was under construction. We’re hoping they’ll have that resolved for 2019— it made the adjacent Wintergarden area a bit overcrowded.
4. Utilize the public transport.
If you’ve never visited Detroit before, you may not have heard of our take on the subway: the People Mover. This car is a valuable resource for congoers. It goes from Cobo to the Ren Cen, and even has stops at some of the popular hotels in the area. A weekend pass can be purchased around con time, and they are extremely inexpensive ($5). The stops at both con locations are right inside the building, so if you are wearing a costume that cannot get wet, it can be a lifesaver (since inevitably, it will rain on con days). One of the other perks of riding the People Mover is that it’s another opportunity to show off your cosplay! Many daily commuters and game day visitors use it to get around the city. Chances are you’ll end up being entertained by the startled reactions of some non-convention attendees.
Another reason to use the People Mover is the security present at each station. Navigating Detroit can be dangerous. You must always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t travel alone if you can help it. Outside of the convention halls, there was not much of a police presence between the buildings. There were also many panhandlers and other solicitors present because of the high volume of passersby, even more than in past years (from what we saw). This year, we ended up walking a lot between Ren Cen and Cobo since the weather was mild (for Michigan), so we intentionally struck up conversations with other cosplayers and made plans to walk together from one building to the next. Tell your friends where you’re going to be and when you’re coming back. Keep a portable phone charger with you if possible or memorize an emergency contact number. It should be noted that Youmacon
5. Always be kind.
This is not a tip remotely exclusive to Youmacon. If you’re a cosplayer, remember that it isn’t just about showing up to a convention to look good. It’s about the community.
As Youmacon grows larger every year, it’s more and more important to show respect and kindness to others. Be patient in “Linecon” while waiting to register. High five a staff member. Be gracious to those who ask for a picture of your cosplay! Sometimes it can take a lot of courage for people to come up and ask for a picture, and it can be so disheartening if someone brushes them off. Always practice kindness out of cosplay as well, but especially in costume. People enjoy meeting others with the same interests as them, and it goes a long way when someone takes a moment to talk to them about their favorite things.
We hope you enjoyed reading our convention experiences! We’d love to hear your own battle-tested convention survival tips in the comment section below. If you’ve got general questions about Youmacon, you can visit the convention’s official FAQ page.