I’ve attended VidCon since the first year, so I could make claims about how it was so much better when there were fewer than 2,000 of us hanging out in an underground ballroom talking about YouTube. But, the truth: there were something like 8,000 people at VidCon this year and I had more fun than ever before. It’s a little weird to me that it’s no longer this strange event I attend with a couple of my friends, but the magic is still there and the YouTube community is as full as ever of creative and awesome people.
I arrived in Anaheim on Thursday afternoon and was immediately attacked in the hotel lobby by a large swarm of bloggers. Okay, so I was looking at my phone and they basically just ran up and sat next to me, but it felt like an attack. I was really excited to meet Rachel and Ian, because they were the only two in our group that I had never met before, but it was great to see Katherine, Treavor, Patrick, Hung, Pham, Joey, Nick, and Tiffany again too. There were eight and sometimes ten of us in two adjoining rooms, and we all survived and are still friends.
That night we met up with Jenn for dinner, and then later with Nico for drinks. We were sitting in the lounge with our drinks when Ian ran up to me and said, “Ashley, you have to come over here now.” We all followed him to the bar, and then and then and then, I saw Ze Frank standing there and nearly died. Ian went up to him and started talking, but I hung back with Katherine and just stared from afar. That was really enough for me, but then I decided I at least had to go shake his hand or something. So I walked up next to Ze and Ian and tried to make it obvious that I knew Ian and wasn’t just completely interrupting their conversation. I can’t remember what I said, but I think it was some variation, “I love your work.” Or it could have been, “s;dlgkhjd;lgkjad;g.” He asked my name and I’m pretty sure I answered correctly.
Then, as Katherine and Ian later described it, Ze turned to get his drink from the bar and when he turned back to say something else, I was walking away. Good job, Ashley. Walk away from your hero while he’s talking to you. I didn’t know what else to say, but Katherine smartly suggested, “How about he’s the reason you started vlogging [and blogging] and you got us all into this, and that’s why we’re here [and we’re friends].” Yeah, that’s what I should have said, but I strangely have no regrets about it. I’m just glad I got to say hi and shake his hand. Later, when he was sitting with us (but too far away for me to say or not say anything embarrassing), I turned to Nico and said, “What am I supposed to do with my life now?”
So my whole world was made before VidCon even officially started, but the conference continued to be amazing. As YouTube has grown and VidCon has changed, there has definitely been more of a focus on industry, but at every panel I attended, it was really obvious that people are still dedicated to the community and to creating. We talked to a teenager who asked if we were in college (Answer: “No, we’re old.”), cheered on Ian as he played a table top game with Wil Wheaton, and then Katherine and I attended the politics panel and Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasies panel. I haven’t read any of the books, so I was mostly just there to see Felicia Day in real life. She’s totes adorbs.
One of my favorite parts of VidCon is the nightly concerts. At the concert on Friday night, we invented a new dance called, “Excuse Me, Guys.” It started when this girl pushed her way through us even though there was plenty of room to walk around us. So basically we just continued to needlessly push each other out of the way and walk around in circles saying, “Excuse me, guys.” We’re spreading it across the country and to England, Canada, and Australia (thanks Terri!), so it will soon be a world wide trend. After the concert, we met Nico again for drinks and people watched (okay, stalked) in the hotel lobby. I finally got to meet Joseph Birdsong and he showed us his bedazzled phone case (not a euphemism).
On Saturday, we attended panels, took pictures in a photo booth (see above), ate dinner at a table big enough for a group twice our size, attended the concert, rested up for a moment in our room, and then DANCE PARTIED! I’d like to say we held our own on the dance floor despite being among the oldest people there, but we were really starting to fade until a series of 90s hits revived us. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE! We were still dancing when the party ended at 1 am.
Sunday morning, I said goodbye to everyone in various stages of not-quite-awake-yet, and then it was just Katherine, Joey, Treavor, and I. We ate lunch together and then made promises about seeing each other on the internet and went our separate ways. I went home to my quiet apartment and immediately fell asleep for a couple hours. Having that much fun is really very tiring. Thanks to VidCon (especially Hank and John Green) and some amazing friends for a seriously fantastic weekend. VidCon, I will see you in 2013!
Other things that happened: Cuddles and Smugs, #plaidtoreach, wrote fake but formal reviews of everything with Rachel, that time I made a casual joke about dying alone and three people hugged me at once, a mini David Gray sing along that was really just Ian and I (and a little Treavor), random run ins with YouTube celebrities, and a bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting. Oh, and again: I MET ZE FRANK. HE’S INSPIRED EVERYTHING I’VE DONE ON THE INTERNET AND SET ALL OF THIS STUFF IN MOTION AND IT WAS JUST A REALLY BIG DEAL TO ME.
A thing that did not happen: purple hair. I got a text from Rachel as she was waiting for her flight home that said, “Girl, I just met you. And this is crazy. But weren’t we supposed to dye your hair purple?” Um, maybe next year!