I sit at a long conference table in a well-lit room resting my feet and my head after swimming my way through the stream of fans entering Senshi-Con 2016 Day 2. A voice rings over a powerful intercom from the events hall below me. A welcoming narrative explaining scheduled events at the day’s start. But it is not this voice that draws my attention. I instead listen to the back and forth conversations with the few volunteers that are seated at the table eating donuts, putting on makeup, and preparing their bodies for the onslaught of the day.
I can only guess at their exact ages, but in their tone and their vernacular, I know they are young. Throughout each conversation, I hear three words spoken over and over like a parrot repeating curse words school children have taught them when the shop owner is distracted. Unlike the bird, these volunteers know the words they speak and they put a particular power behind their use. The words die, love, and f^%& sung in a continuous chorus dancing across the table to mine ears giving a greater understand of the events taking place around me.
You would think the meaning of these words to be just as you would find in a dictionary, but my readers, these words mean nothing because words are wind. When the Senshi-Con volunteers speak these words, they speak them with fervor and passion the likes of which most Con-goer never sees, or even understands. These words are the notes of the song of fandom. Fandom such as this is the veins of Senshi-Con. The attendees who stand in lines waiting to get in are blood cells passing back and forth through its heart. Senshi-Con’s heart beats for two days never missing a one because the veins made up of volunteers and various staff keep oxygen flowing freely with ease.
Now, dear readers, you may think I am making these simple molehills into mountains, but truly, these officials and volunteers are worth praise. Ordinary folks with love for the genre take time off work, cut hours of their days, and stay awake at night preparing the wonder of Senshi-Con. The love sets them apart from others that I have engaged with at larger conventions. These people love what they do because they are fans. The look on their faces after engaging with guests says it all. One volunteer nearly swooned with emotion due to a mere glimpse of one of the guests walking the hallways. They are not paid to make like they love what they are a part of, they are doing it because they love it. Even as their bodies strain to keep going, they stand and check badges. Hours without food or water they hurry to make sure an event start on time. They toil over the rigors of cosplay because their small role in a show could be what keeps fans returning year after year to Senshi-Con.
I have ranted enough for now, so let us move on to the meat of the matter. After sitting during different points in the con, I came to know a few of these volunteers and staff. I talked with them about their work or just listened as the expunged their emotions about the event as a whole. Senshi-Con has been running each year for the last eleven years. This is am important note because some of the staff and volunteers have been returning year after year to further the growth of the convention. These folks are well known and spoken highly of because their efforts built Senshi-Con from its humble beginnings to the massive undertaking it has become. But not to exclude the new faces in old places, each volunteer or staff I interacted with glowed with the inner light of fandom. Standing at a door or peace bonding costume weapons, these patrons of fandom do all they can for those in attendance.
But moreover than anything else please be reminded these folks are as human as you or I. Frequently I observed volunteers and staff exclaiming of their hunger or thirst. Not that they overlooked these items, but they put the needs of the Con well above the needs of their bodies. The smiling face of a volunteer who could for a brief moment stop and eat real food was like seeing true love for the very first time. Simple needs for extraordinary people met when they could meet them. A bit of candy left on a table. A box of donuts old from the morning, but still gobbled down like manna from heaven. A cup of coffee handed in passing because they needed a reason to break out into “hello darkness my old friend.”
The human side of a con is looked over because of how big and loud they can be. Guests who have droves of fans waiting for hours to just stand for a photo would be nothing without the organization and efforts of Senshi Con’s staff and volunteers. Were there issues along the way? Was there a lack of bodies to fill seats or watch doors? Was there a wailing cry for death to free them from their earthly bonds? Yes, yes there was. If you asked any of the people who made Senshi-Con happen, they did it without thinking because the brain knows nothing. This is a matter of the heart, and in the heart is where true wisdom lies. The hearts of the volunteers and staff of Senshi-Con know fandom and that reader is far more important than anything else.
My opinion is my own, but I say all of this not because they are Zod and should be knelt before. I say this because these are real people who carry the banner of fandom into places clearing they way for others to feel at home. They are the heroes. They are warriors. They are the fabric stitched together to keep huddled masses of nerds and geeks warm. They are worthy of praise, and so I give it. I give them my thanks for allowing me a distinctive look behind the curtain. I tip my cap to the whole lot knowing full well that next year will be worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears these folks pour into its mold.
Carry on Senshi-Con staff and volunteers! Your efforts are the makings of greatness.
Tell me did you attend Senshi-Con 2016? Did you notice the frantic efforts of the nerds behind the curtain? What did you think overall? Could you do what they do? Does your fandom burn just as bright? Let me know in the comment section below.