Sakura-Con 2019: A Trip Report
With the continued social-distancing measures put in place in order to help combat the spread of COVID-19, this past Easter weekend unfortunately did not see the annual tradition of Sakura-Con take place in Seattle, WA. Municipal restrictions imposed last month on social gatherings and events had forced Sakura-Con and other organizations to cancel their 2020 events. Although many of us may have been looking forward to another memorable Sakura-Con experience for our Easter vacations, the continued importance of social distancing and self-isolation is paramount if we want to flatten the curve and overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that being said, I thankfully had the privilege of attending Sakura-Con last year for 2019, however I am only finally getting around to posting my trip report now as the remainder of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 had both been rather crazy for me. In light of the unfortunate circumstances of this year that we are all facing, I hope you enjoy my trip report from Sakura-Con 2019!
Sakura-Con 2019 took place at the Washington State Convention Centre in Seattle, WA over the Easter weekend of April 19-21. Thankfully, I was able to stay with some long-time friends who I had met back at my first Sakura-Con adventure in 2010, and 2019’s excursion wasn’t without plenty of adventures of its own! I arrived on Thursday night to settle in and pick up my Press pass, followed by a bunch of us engaging in some pre-con partying before we all got down to business over the next three days.
Following an entertaining night of pre-con partying, I took a bit of extra time on Friday morning to wander around Capitol Hill and explore the various shops along E Broadway, stopping in for lunch at Pho Than Brothers, a fairly straightforward Vietnamese noodle cafe.
While I instantly directed myself to their most expensive dish (something like $12 USD if I remember correctly?), anything you order from there is guaranteed to give you plenty of bang for your buck as the quality of the food is top-notch for how relatively little it costs. I was also drawn to the colourful artwork which adorns the various walls around the cafe.
When exploring somewhere as unique and diverse as the Capitol Hill district, the various thrift shops in the area have plenty of hidden gems tucked away inside, and that day was no exception.
After finishing up my lunch, I decided to stop in and explore a few of them as I was missing shoes to complete my outfit. Remarkably, I came across the absolutely perfect item: A pair of pink camouflage Adidas sneakers with white soles in amazing condition, slightly too large but still snug enough to be comfortably wearable! I can’t remember exactly how much I paid, but to me, these were priceless!
Finally heading to the convention centre mid-afternoon, I came across this gem: A classic two-door coupe beautifully restored and customized, though the exact year, make, or model are not immediately clear to me. I’d make a terrible Lordco or O’Reilly employee!
Arriving at the convention, there was definitely no shortage of attendees both in and out of cosplay! While heading upstairs from the ground floor level, every escalator was filled with a constant stream of attendees headed in each direction, though the line control made efficient use of the thoroughfare, allowing me to get to my destination with minimal delay.
Friday night saw the debut of Panel Against Humanity at Sakura-Con, billed as the Girugamedition!
Panel Against Humanity, an 18+ game-show adaptation of the popular card game, Cards Against Humanity, is an event that I had been meaning to run at Sakura-Con for years since its inception at Tsukino-Con 2013, but numerous life events and changes in circumstance prevented me from returning to Sakura-Con until 2016, though it was not until 2019 that I had returned in the capacity to be able to run any actual programming.
Our event’s inaugural year at Sakura-Con saw a turnout of around 40 people, but it was well-enjoyed by all those who attended! Having successfully completed our first showing and established our presence, we anticipate future events should yield a greater turnout.
On Saturday night, I attended a well-established and well-loved staple of Sakura-Con’s programming lineup, Zapp Brannigan’s Spaceship of Love. This was the 10th year of their production, and with a packed audience of well over a thousand people, it was clearly a popular event!
The premise of Spaceship of Love is that Zapp Brannigan has an opening in his crew, and so he holds interviews for potential recruits and puts them through a series of challenges in order to determine which of them is worthy of joining his fleet. The interview lineup typically consists of a plethora of interesting characters with plenty of unexpected results, and this year’s event was certainly no exception!
You can find more information on Zapp Brannigan and his beloved crew over at their Facebook Page!
Speaking of well-established and well-loved staples, Sakura-Con’s late-night electronic dance spans across both Friday and Saturday nights and features a swath of talented DJs sourced locally, nationally, and sometimes even all the way from Japan, all playing a wide variety of genres that attendees love!
During peak time, the audience can surge to well over 2000 energetic dancers with a notable number of people attending the convention solely to enjoy the event!
The theme for this year’s dance was Welcome to the Jungle!
Even after the dance is over, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the party is, at least not for the DJs and their fellow ravers! I may not have performed there this year myself, but I have made a lot of friendships over my off-and-on decade as a DJ, and so I had the opportunity to join all these hardworking talents for an after-party that ran well into Sunday morning!
I got to catch up with plenty of old friends who I only get to see during the rare times I’m in town as well as getting to meet a decent amount of friends who I only previously knew online.
Remember those sneakers you saw earlier? You know you’re at a good party when even a pair of shoes as unique as those ones can get lost in a pile of everyone else’s!
For the remainder of Sunday, I tried to pack in as many photo opportunities as possible before the convention came to a close and I had to begin my journey back up north. I managed to catch the lolita photoshoot gathering which featured a fairly solid turnout of models, each with their own unique styles and fabulously frilly dresses!
The vast majority of my idle time throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was spent conducting impromptu photoshoots with a vast collection of talented cosplayers, and I highly encourage you all to view the full album over at the Facebook page for Yankee-Six Photography!
All in all, Sakura-Con 2019 was well worth the trip, and ANCEA once again hosted another great event. In between catching up with old friends I only see once a year, meeting online friends in-person for the first time, running into friends from other places I hadn’t expected, and enjoying all the amazing convention content as well as the sights and sounds of Seattle as a whole, it was a wonderful way to spend the Easter weekend, and I look forward to hopefully returning next year for Sakura-Con 2021!