While many cons claim to be a “safe space,” in reality there is always some danger when thousands of people gather in one area. As someone who has participated in the convention scene for over 10 years from both inside and out, I thought I’d gather some tips to help newcomers and young attendees navigate the crowd safely.
Travel in groups
The buddy system is always a good idea, especially when going to a new event. There’s more, however, than just traveling in groups.
- Get phone numbers and don’t rely on social media to communicate. Often signal is bad in crowded areas and calling someone can get a hold of them fast.
- Know if anyone is under 18, so you can keep an eye out for them.
- On the first day walk the space to find safe zones, call boxes, security desks. Don’t rely on maps, know where these places actually are.
- Create a rendezvous point just in case. If you get separated or lose part of the group, you have a plan to meet back up at a rendezvous point (should be a public place, like the lobby).
- Join a gathering close by if you are feeling scared so you can be in a group.
Parties and Drinking
If you are looking to party and/or hook up no judgment here, but there are some things that can help make it a good time for everyone.
- For room parties- someone in your group should know and trust the host of the party.
- Text or tell someone the room number of the party who isn’t going, so they know where to look if you don’t come back.
- Bring a sober person, so they can make sure you aren’t doing anything too crazy.
- Make your intentions clear, if you want to hook up with someone, tell your friends. Don’t leave them alone at a strange party. Make sure they have a way out.
- Pace yourself by drinking a glass of water in between drinks, especially if you’re a light weight.
- Do not leave with someone you don’t know, and do not go to someone else’s room unless you know their intentions clearly. if you do, again tell someone WHO you are with and the room number you are going to.
- Have a bail plan, if you are finding it hard to leave because someone is bothering or hitting on you, have an idea to get out, (suddenly get a emergency text from a friend, the hotel front desk needs you, you need to get someone from the lobby etc, you can also claim you are married or in a homosexual relationship).
- If you friend is drunk, DO NOT leave them.
- If someone is overstepping your boundaries immediately make them aware, teach them your boundaries, if they continue it’s a problem.
- You can create a number on Google voice to give out to people who you are not sure if you trust. This is not your real number but can be called and texted through without giving away your actual number. You can always cancel it, and your real number stays unknown.
- Make a lot of noise if you feel threatened or endangered, it may make the person back off.
Security and Police
There are three levels of security at most cons (sometimes less). Con Security are volunteers, they are mainly there to take reports, make sure people have badges, control lines and make sure banned people stay out. They cannot lay hands on anyone or hold anyone captive. They can take a report, ban someone, remove someone and/or follow someone. Basically if someone refuses to leave after con security tells them to, security can and will threaten police to come and forcibly remove them. Another layer at hotel conventions are the hotel security, they are making sure people are not destroying property, overcrowding, and those sort of things. They can also take reports. If someone is harassing you you should definitely report it immediately and ask for help from one of these two groups, either one should be able to help you. If you saw the person/know the person who assaulted you (try to record or get a picture of them) you can request the police come so you can make a formal report that will be on record (you can still do this even if you don’t know them, you can describe them). If you want to see someone actually get arrested or a report to go on their record, you need to ask for the police to be called. This is how things show up on background checks, no report, no record.
You can also ask any of the con staff for help, use them to your advantage to talk with them if you are feeling unsafe. They can stay with you until security gets there.
It is wise to wear your mask everywhere and get tested after large events. If you do test positive for co-vid you should contact the convention director so they can reach out to the attendees if necessary. Keep extra masks with you and hand sanitizer. Bring your own water bottle so you aren’t using communal drinking fountains/pitchers and distance yourself when/if you feel it’s necessary.