Over Valentine’s weekend I attended the Gallifrey One Convention in Los Angeles, CA. For those who don’t know, Gallifrey One (“Gallifrey” or “Gally” for short) is the world’s largest fan-run Doctor Who convention, having been around since 1990. Over the course of 3 full days, nearly 4,000 fans descend upon the LAX Airport Marriott. This post might sound like an ad for the con, but it really comes from the heart and personal experience. With the rising visibility of the show and its spinoffs in recent years, the convention has gotten so popular that a couple of years ago they started having to cap attendance numbers. Some people were disgruntled about that, but ultimately it’s for the good of the fan experience. The convention runners don’t want our little con turning into something as massive in proportion as the San Diego Comic-Con, because they don’t want to lose that smaller fan-run feel. Keeping the con at a manageable size definitely helps the fans feel closer to their community and to the talent in attendance throughout the weekend. Of course it also helps the halls from being overcrowded, overwhelming the hotel. There are already enough attendees that people are spilling over into renting rooms at neighboring hotels. I love seeing the costumes there; Doctor Who fans are just so creative. For example, TARDIS dresses may be a common sight now, but the point is that each one is different and unique. The community is very accepting and enthusiastic, so anyone can dress up as their favorite character regardless of their age, gender, race, religion or anything else that sets people apart in the real world. Occasionally a non-Doctor Who costume will pop up and that’s okay too. (One of my friends dressed up as Mrs. Frizzle from the children’s book series The Magic Schoolbus and then as Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers, clutching her book of erotic friend fiction. Totally fitting since Mrs. Frizzle is basically an honorary Time Lady, and we know that Tina would love to see her friends cosplay and watch all the butts shaking on the dance floor. Oh G-d… the fiction she would write about Jack Harkness…)
I was on staff there for about 7 years so I know how hard everyone works to put together all the aspects of a fun experience. There is so much to do and I’ve seen people put so much time and effort into the con. This is particularly obvious in the amazing guests they attract. It’s hard to think of another con where you can get almost all the members of Torchwood on one stage under one roof. It was totally worth the price for the weekend to see John Barrowman bouncing around the stage. You get actors and show runners from all eras of Doctor Who past and present, reminiscing about their travels with The Doctor, or their work making monsters and aliens come to life. A special thing about Doctor Who is that many who work on the show were originally fans to begin with, which makes the production that much better. There’s something about Doctor Who that inspires such creativity and brilliance. I commend my friends who put on the “Idiot’s Lantern” sketch show. Springing off of that, my friend Bob Mitsch, one of the head honchos of “Idiot’s Lantern” has his own podcast, Costume Station Zero, which is full of insightful discussion on costume constructing, costume analysis, roundtables, guest appearances, and general nerdery.
One of the best things this year was getting my picture taken with Eve Myles. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably already seen it, but I’ll post it below anyway. For years, I cosplayed her character from Torchwood, Gwen Cooper. I even had my hair styled like hers for 3 years until I got tired of it. If she had come just a few years earlier at the height of my fandom, it would have been even more amazing, but I’m grateful that she came to Gallifrey at all. I hope she comes back. She’s a brilliant actress and a funny lady.
Other highlights of the con this year included the “Writing Doctor Who” panel, a panel about the various companions and their contributions to the show (hosted by a few of my friends), and meeting one of the best Missy cosplayers, or should I say, crossplayer.
Up next, I’d like to provide some recommendations on how to make the most of Valentine’s Day while still enjoying yourself at Gallifrey One.