Katsucon is an annual cosplay and anime convention held in National Harbor, just south of Washington DC. I was invited to bring a taste of Japanese culture and crafts to the 12,000+ attendees, most of whom wear cosplay (costumes based on Japanese anime cartoons and manga comics) all weekend. I was scheduled to teach 10 workshops (or 'panels' as they are known at these events) over 16 hours, with up to 24 students per session.
Getting up at 2.30am to travel, I saw snowstorms across the eastern USA on the BBC news. Oh dear. There was no problem until Detroit, when it transpired all the airports in DC had been closed. So there was a 5 hour wait and a rescheduled flight to Baltimore, during which all luggage was lost. As is their wont, though, Katsucon staff came to the rescue and, 27 hours after leaving home, I had the most luxurious hotel room, a goody bag of essentials and a Katsucon t-shirt to wear for the next day. Plus lots of hugs and sympathy (they're good that way).
So, onto the main event...
To be honest, nobody was sure how my events would go down, as they are so different to what attendees were used to and not as directly related to cosplay as the other panels such as 'Dye your Own Wig', 'Ghibli Villains' etc.
I needn't have worried. From the start, the panels were full to bursting, and as it was first come, first served, people soon realised they had to queue for about an hour in advance. Whenever I went to the room to set up, there was already a long line of costumed attendees. I hated to disappoint those who I had to turn away, and some panels started half an hour early as they were already full up.
Over the course of the weekend, I had about 15 students who finished a class and started queueing immediately for the next one. They literally did nothing else all weekend apart from taking my classes - despite the fact they didn't even know about them before they arrived! We all became quite matey over the weekend, and it was wonderful to witness people grow in confidence, from newbie to competent stitcher.
But for me, the absolute best thing had to be the have-a-go attitude of my students. They didn't know what they were letting themselves in for, but they threw themselves into it and produced some lovely work. It was so flattering that, out of all the panels and events on the programme, they chose to come to mine, and that's a very warm, fuzzy feeling to come away with.