I think I knew about LeakyCon, an amazing Harry Potter convention, for about a year before I finally got to go. In 2011 the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 came out in theaters and LeakyCon was held opening weekend in Orlando, Florida. That summer I started following anyone and everyone I could find associated with Harry Potter on social media.
I know that year I was following every Harry Potter star, StarKid, and anyone else on twitter and that summer they all started talking about LeakyCon. A couple of the younger kids from the 19 years later epilogue and the young actors that played Harry’s parents and the marauders went, and it was held in Orlando Florida where the convention attendees got to see a midnight showing of Deathly Hallows part 2 and then go into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I knew then that this was something I had to do at least once in my life. Following it all on social media just wasn’t going to cut it.
That next summer I found out that LeakyCon moves around to different places (much like the Quidditch World Cup in the books) and that in 2012 LeakyCon was going to be in Chicago! It’s about a 4-6 hour car ride from my home town to Chicago so it was way more doable than anywhere else LeakyCon had been head up to that point and I was not going to miss out on that opportunity. My mom and aunt decided that they wanted to explore Chicago and go shopping when I was off having the time of my life at the convention so we packed up the car, drove up to northern Indiana and stayed in this gorgeous hotel one hour long train ride outside Chicago, where conveniently there was a train stop almost directly outside the hotel where the contention was taking place. I was about as safe as you could get walking around Chicago by yourself in the middle of the night.
This was only the second convention I had ever been too, and I was there by myself. Overwhelming for sure, but nothing has ever lived up to the experience. It is something I will always hold near and dear to my heart.
Things I learned from LeakyCon
- Trains don’t always run on schedule and you will feel like Cinderella trying to catch the last train at midnight so you can actually get back to the hotel to sleep that night
- There is no way you can go to every panel on the schedule in just four short days
- Eating is extremely important at a convention (Mom’s don’t always know where to get a sandwich in a strange town to have ready when you get off the train at 11:00 at night!)
- You can survive for four days on very little sleep
- The friends you make at a convention, no matter where they live, will be a part of your life forever
This is where I learned that in some respects Harry Potter is a gateway
drug fandom. I had been obsessed with the books since I was twelve years old, then suddenly I went home and started watching Doctor Who…which lead to Sherlock…then Supernatural … and finally The Walking Dead. I went from a girl who only watched half hour comedies to feeding off of science fiction dramas, and I blame it all on LeakyCon and my new friends. It was so much more than just a Harry Potter convention, I learned so much about myself that weekend, I really felt like I had found a place where I belong, a place where I can completely be myself, where I couldn’t wait in line anywhere without meeting someone new and making a new friend. It was the most comfortable I had ever been in my own skin and I think all the conventions I have attended since then has just been chasing that feeling of acceptance. Which luckily I usually find, but as they say, Harry Potter will always be my home.
I was going to write this blog about the cosplays I had put together for LeakyCon but really this is one of the big reasons why I cosplay, that sense of acceptance and belonging I get from this amazing community. We are all a little crazy, but we are also all extremely creative and excited about the things we care about and we love to share that excitement with each other. Sure I wore a Ravenclaw school uniform, my Hufflepuff t-shirt from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and used my Gryffendor tie as a belt but what I really got out of this was the confidence to strike up a conversation with a stranger. That’s exactly how I made friends with three girls on the train who just happened to be getting off at the same stop I was and one of whom I’m still good friends with and talk to regularly (sorry I can’t find my photos of your excellent Luna).
The only full cosplay I did for LeakyCon was Hermione’s dress from The Deathly Hallows. It was far from perfect, being only the second Cosplay I had every really tried to do and I learned that trying to do something on the cheap doesn’t always create the effect you are looking for. The dress in the picture looks way nicer than it does in person. Funny story, while standing in line to go to the ball Joey Richter (Ron from A Very Potter Musical) walked up to some people in front of my friend and I and I may have loudly yelled his name in surprise. I then quickly turned away bright read and totally embarrassed. My friend asked me if I had just fan-girled at the poor guy.