BLOG Three Postcards From The SFX Weekender

George Takei, Craig Charles, Supernatural karaoke – SFX Blogger Alasdair Stuart relives three pivotal, personal moments for him from SFX Weekender 2

Postcard One

I’m standing about six feet away from George Takei and he’s smiling beatifically at the crowd as a lady in a wheelchair moves forward to get a picture signed and get a photo. There’s this incredible balance to him, an internal calm that’s fascinating. Later, he’d essentially take over the stage for an hour and talk with tremendous eloquence about what it was like to be part of Star Trek , the subversive elements of the series and his memories of his best friend, James Doohan. Right now though, Mr Takei is standing in front of me and this strikes me as deeply, deeply weird. I’m a slightly overweight nerd from the Isle of Man who was born ten years after Star Trek began and six feet in front of me, the man who played Hikaru Sulu is smiling and beckoning me forward.

I move. I shake his hand and he asks my name and I tell him, then I tell him again as he makes sure it’s spelt correctly. I called him sir, something which I do with a lot of people but with him? It feels fitting, right. He’s a still point in a whirling maelstrom of fans, a man whose life has been defined by a single role to a greater or lesser extent and who appears to be at absolute peace with that. He’s dignified, and that dignity is what stays with me far more than hearing the coolest helmsman in Starfleet saying my name.

Although that was pretty amazing.

Lesson One: George Takei is exactly as nice as you always secretly hoped he was.

Postcard Two

The second postcard is of the front of the stage during the Maskerade Ball. Craig Charles is a few tracks in and throwing himself at the set like a man trying to knock down a wall. It’s amazing, track flowing effortlessly into track as bass lines kick and drums punch and hundreds of people, most in costume, shake their asses for all they’re worth.

To my right, I see a skull-masked steampunk scientist throwing his giggling partner around in a maniacal waltz. They finish, he bows and silently, offers his hand to another woman. She accepts and the dance begins again. Behind him, the Avengers are getting down, the Flash not far behind them. On the stage, a full-scale Xenomorph is, well, the only way to describe it is getting down, something which a creature with acid for blood really shouldn’t be able to do. In between songs, Craig Charles comes out to the front and leads the crowd in call and response chants. He looks our way a fair bit but, then again, Beast from the X-Men dancing with a zombie does look a little odd.

He dives back behind the decks, yelling, “STRAIGHT OUT OF ISRAEL! IT'S THE APPLES!” and a huge, fat horn section kicks in and there’s something oddly familiar about it. I keep dancing, keep moving and let my back brain work on it.

“Killing in the Name Of…”

It’s a funk version of “Killing in the Name Of”.

I’m 17 again, raw and numb with anger and grief. I’m outside a farm building on a friend’s stepfather’s land, listening to eight friends of mine sing along to the original’s chorus. We buried my best friend today, after his third bout with leukaemia and as I sit, tired and raging and numb in the farmhouse, I feel this song branded into my brain at this precise moment, this precise second. This is what grief sounds like, for me.

I listen. I think. I keep dancing. The memory is still there, the grief is still there but not now, not tonight. Tonight I’m painted blue and shaking my ass. Tonight it doesn’t matter. Tonight I get to heal.

Lesson Two: Healing’s where you find it. Recognise it when it comes.

Postcard Three

The last postcard? Well the last postcard’s on the forum, right now. Go here .

Second photo down? That’s us on the last night, past midnight in the karaoke contest. What started as a half-joking suggestion to do “Highway To Hell” became a five-person rendition of “Eye Of The Tiger”, with coreography no less. We had no idea we were going to do it until we did and as we watched each other act go up, the nerves just increased. Would we suck? Would we go on at all? Would it work? A plan was formed to get to the end of the first chorus and yell “WE ARE SEX BOB-OMB AND WE ARE DONE HERE!” and we stick to it. Get off the stage, present the smallest target.

Yeah. Not quite.

The song kicks in, we stand on stage and go through some moves which, hopefully, will be familiar to fans of a certain Supernatural episode. The song kicks in, we run headlong at it and, okay, bounce off a few times but it’s so much fun we just keep going and as we do it occurs to me that I’m painted blue, surrounded by a zombie, a Centauri noblewoman, Jubilee and Ramona Flowers, belting out a song from a Rocky movie I’ve never actually seen and people are singing along and this is actually kind of magnificent and we’re doing it, we’re actually doing it and people are applauding rather than throwing fruit. We’re having so much fun, in fact, that we finish the song and then do the Sex Bob-Omb exit line.

Which is right around the time we’re told it’s a contest to win tickets and accomodation for next year. A contest we won. Two minutes of making an arse of ourselves on stage gets us a pass to the next Weekender, accommodation and a ridiculous warm glow of achievement.

Plus? We did rock.

Lesson Three: Show up, commit, don’t be afraid to look stupid, you're amongst friends.

Next weekender? Go, if you can, just go. Don’t pay any attention to complaints about accommodation, don’t worry about what you’ll eat, think about spending three days in the company of people just like you. The weekender is an adventure as much as a convention, a place where you’ll learn about yourself as much as what you’re into and if you’ve got the ability, and the courage (and make no mistake, it takes bravery to turn up to these things, especially as a non-forumite), then go. Nothing else on the English con circuit is like it.