The Los Angeles Airport Marriot Hotel exploded with time energy this weekend as Whovians descended upon the 26th Annual Gallifrey One Convention. After years of large conventions (my first was San Diego Comic Con longer ago than I care to admit), Gallifrey One allows the attendee to breathe and truly meet fellow fans. The convention is kept small, much to the frustration of those unable to get tickets when they sold out in 90 minutes last February. With attendees such a John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori, the convention had a very Torchwood vibe this year. Alex Kingston, known best for her role as River Song, was unable to attend as headliner due to scheduling conflicts.
For those who have never attended Gallifrey One, the event is more like a neighborhood gathering than a blown out money-making fiasco like San Diego Comic Con. Fans stop and actually talk together. When you’re in line for a photo or autograph, you make friends rather than compete to beat the line out of fear that the celebrity in question will be ushered away. That is also one of the huge differences. Autographs can be found in the Dealer’s Gallery, rather than thrown off to the side. Meeting your favorite actors and actresses feels far more intimate. I was able to spend a few minutes with Eve Myles and I watched a delighted ten-year-old speak to John Barrowman. Carole Ann Ford, Susan from the Classic Doctor Who era, sat with Janet Fielding (the actress who played Teagan) and Sophie Aldred (better known as Ace) was available for photographs. Sarah Louise Madison also appeared, though few initially recognized her outside the heavy costume and makeup of a Weeping Angel. She was accompanied by Marnix Van Den Broeke, the incredibly tall actor who is oft hidden under the creepy mask of The Silence. There was even an appearance by Nichelle Nichols, better known as Uhura from Star Trek the Original Series.
One of the best parts of this family affair are the ribbons. Individuals and fangroups create their own sticky ribbons that attach to the back of the name badges. Some give ribbons away for free, while some require a trade or trivia question. Attendees often find themselves forming their ribbons into shields, scarfs, or simply wrapping them around their name badge so one doesn’t trip while roaming the halls.
While the schedule changes at the drop of a hat, headlines occasionally fail to show and the tickets are limited, Gallifrey One is perhaps the most delightful Convention I’ve attended in years.
More information can be found at their website: http://www.gallifreyone.com/