Gallifrey One, exponentially better every year

I’ve attended a lot of conventions over the years. Star Trek ones as a child, official Stargate ones slightly more recently, fan conventions with no guests, fan conventions with guests, giant comic conventions, and so many more. But my favourite is Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention that takes place in Los Angeles, CA every February.

My first Gally (as it’s nicknamed by the attendees) was in 2010, and while I had expected to have a great time, that description didn’t come anywhere near describing the awesomeness of that weekend. The people I met, the discussions I had, and the friends I came away with, made it so much better than any other convention I had experienced before.

But I truly anticipated a drop off from the amazing first experience. And it didn’t happen. The second year was better than the first, and this year, my third, topped even that. I don’t know how it happens, and I’ve just about stopped questioning it. I can, however, pinpoint some of the moments that made the weekend of February 17-19, 2012 so special.

  1. Comics. When I went to my first Gally, I was only just starting to read the Doctor Who comics. After three panels and a lot of discussions, I was completely hooked. This year, I got to spend time with two comic artists who I’d met previously, Matthew Dow Smith and Blair Shedd. I had the pleasure of talking to Joshua Hale Fialkov, the current writer of the IDW Doctor Who Ongoing series, and Charlie Kirchoff, who does the colors for the series. In addition to that, I spent an entire evening talking to Matt, Blair, and Denton Tipton, the editor for the Doctor Who comics, about… well, everything.
  2. Directors. Before leaving for Gally, I wrote a “preview” that I neglected to post, listing what panels I was interested in seeing, which Kaffeeklatsches (small group discussions with the one or two guests) I wanted to try to attend, and generally what I wanted to do. The directors Richard Senior and Toby Haynes were nowhere on that list. But when I arrived in LA on Wednesday, and was invited to join a friend for dinner, I met Rich, and had no idea who he was. Later that evening, I met Toby, and also didn’t know him. It wasn’t until almost forty-five minutes into our conversation that I figured it out. By then, any awkwardness was long past, and I got to spend the weekend talking to two new friends who just happened to direct Doctor Who.
  3. Friends. I’ve made tons of friends through fandom, and more specifically through twitter, who I’ve either never met or only met briefly. This year many of us managed to track each other down and talk in sentences that weren’t limited to 140 characters. I put faces to online names, and realised I actually knew a few people in real life and online, I’d just never connected the pair. I got to reconnect with people I only see once a year; even if we make an attempt to stay in touch online, it’s never the same. I even discovered that some of the people who I follow on twitter and facebook know who I am. Sometimes it’s just the little things that make you feel special.
  4. William Russell. A brief encounter while getting his autograph, but I got to meet William Russell, the man who played Ian Chesterton from the very beginning of Doctor Who’s history. Out of every guest set to appear at the convention, he was the one I was most looking forward to.
  5. Inspector Spacetime. Inspector Spacetime is a show within the show Community and a tribute to Doctor Who. The man who plays the Inspector, Travis Richey, was part of the Inspector Spacetime panel, and I got to speak to him later that afternoon, and ask him to sign my Tardis cross stitch. Which he did, inside the Tardis pattern, right next to Peter Davison.
  6. Writers. I still have trouble seeing myself as a writer, even though I guess, technically, I am now. But I ran into the person who unintentionally made me realise that I do write, and thanked him for that. To that person: If you read this, I’m still more comfortable writing in blog/opinion/ramble format, but ask me again in a year or two, and I might change my mind.
  7. Hot tub con. A group of us decided to skip closing ceremonies in favour of hanging out in the hot tub instead. Good decision. Closing ceremonies is great, but essentially it’s just a lot of people jammed into one room clapping as the guests are introduced and thanked on stage. Instead I stayed in the hot tub for hours with a combination of old friends and new ones, and simply relaxed. Gally involves a lot of running around, standing in lines, and forgetting that eating and sitting are important. I didn’t eat in the hot tub, but I definitely let me brain unwind before the Sunday night lobbycon party.

There are so many more moments that made this year special, and if I wanted, I could probably keep writing for days. So I’ll stop myself here and now, and simply end by saying, if you’ve been to Gally you know what I mean when I say it’s truly special. If you haven’t, I hope I’ve convinced you to give it a go. Next year is the 50th anniversary. It’s going to be brilliant!

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10 responses to “Gallifrey One, exponentially better every year

  • Robin Burks (@sunriserobin)

    I love the hot tub idea – I wish we had joined you there! I kept saying I was going to take advantage of the hotel hot tub and never did.

    As to your #6, I got to do the same thing this year (this is my third Gallifrey One) with Jane Espenson, who inspired me to get beyond the blog writing and actually write a novel. I used her Twitter writing sprints during Nanowrimo and still use them as I work on revisions. It was so nice to shake her hand and thank her in person. And she was so awesome about that I really did feel like a writer.

    I have no idea if we met at the con and I hope to see you again next year.

    • GeekGirlRamblings

      I tried to get people to join hot tub con on twitter, but I guess everyone was downstairs and no one had service. Next year though!

      And it’s entirely possible that we met, since I seem to have met (or at least spoken to) most of the convention, but if not I’ll definitely be there next year!

  • Five and Dime Girl (@time_siren)

    Geek Girl, you actually made me cry. Though I’ve been attending Gallifrey One since the beginning, I have only come to so thoroughly and deeply enjoy it since it’s moved to the LAX Marriott. Dunno why – mebbe ’cause the cosplay has blossomed like never before now, or because I got heavily into the podcasts and said hi to the podcasters like we were old friends at LobbyCon or because I was able to sit down and chat with My Doctor Peter Davison in the Green Room last year. Maybe it’s everything, but it is true that when you can have a moment in the elevator or the hallways just to stop and say Hi to your hero, or Steven Moffat or hug a big blue mercenary named Simon Fisher-Becker in real life it makes it that much more special.

    When you share all this on Twitter with your fellow congoer/friends the other 361 days of the year while waiting for the next Gallifrey, I can well and truly say Gallifrey never ends.

    ‘cuse me, I have to go write all this in my own blog post. It’s too moving to forget and thank you for reminding me to remember it with an even deeper fondness than I already had for my fellow Gallifreyans. I didn’t think that kind of love could get better, but it does. Every year!

    • GeekGirlRamblings

      No, no crying! Honestly though, you’re comment made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

      I’m not a cosplayer myself, but I’m friends with lots of people who are, so depending on the year, I tend to end up as the cosplayers photographer.

      And you’re right, Gally never ends. It just spreads out across the globe for the time between the one before and the one coming up. I’ve made so many amazing friends through the con, some who I get to see throughout the year and some who I don’t. But twitter (and facebook to an extent) make it so much easier to not feel the separation.

      Let me know when you’re post is written, I’d love to read it! I think what surprises me the most when reading other people’s recaps, is that sometimes it’s hard to realise you were at the same convention. I missed so many things this year that I wanted to go to, and getting to read other people’s comments lets me feel like I was there.

  • Robert Smith?

    You’re very welcome for the writer thing. I’m so glad you’re feeling confident to stretch your writing wings! And if you do want to take a plunge in the next few weeks (it could even be in the blog/opinion/ramble format, you know!), drop me a line…

    • GeekGirlRamblings

      I didn’t actually think you’d ever see that comment, to be honest!

      But again, thank you for, however unintentionally, giving me the kick I needed. I used to write when I was a kid, and I never realised how much I missed it. I don’t think I did miss it until now.

      I don’t think I’m ready for anything more than blog writing yet, but I’m getting there. And if you get stuck with anyone, let me know… you might be able to change my mind.

  • Dave Rudin

    I met William Russell in London back in 1987 when he was in a four hour long play at the National Theater called “The Wandering Jew.” I got his autograph in my book and tried to set up an interview for my club newsletter (as I was able to do with people like Nicholas Courtney and David Troughton) but sadly he did not have the time. Still, he was very nice and I’m glad he’s still able to get around. It’s hard to believe that when I met him is already 25 years ago!

    Regarding Gallifrey One 2013, two questions: 1) Will you be going?; and 2) Would you recommend other people to go?

    • GeekGirlRamblings

      I would have loved the opportunity to see William Russell perform live!

      Re: Gallifrey One, 1) Yes yes yes, absolutely, I will be there, and 2) of all the conventions that I go to, Gally is the one that I urge people to attend. There really is something magical about it. This was my third year, and I buy my membership before I leave each time.

      • Dave Rudin

        Well, memberships for 2013 are already on sale. I think it’s February 15-17. I am thinking of going, too (especially for the 50th), but things at work are a bit busy around then, so I’m not sure how much time I can take off.

  • Andre

    Hey I resemble number 3! lol

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