Shattering Conventions
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November 2016

Shattering Conventions: Drinking Klingon Bloodwine at Con-Volution

by Bob Calhoun

  • Klingon Bar

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    Bob Calhoun visits the Klingon bar at Con-Volution

  • Masquerade Contest

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    Masquerade contest at Con-Volution

  • Masquerade Contest Winner

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    A masquerade contest winner gets applause

    Masquerade Contest Winner

I’ve knocked around the Silicon Valley sci-fi and cosplay convention scene for a while now, and I keep hearing about this Klingon bar. Klingons were somewhere serving up drinks to those in the know in the shadowy corners of BayCon or even FurCon.

And the whole FurCon thing didn’t make sense. While Klingons can have fabulous manes, they aren’t really cuddly enough to be Furries. But every time I’d start to dismiss the existence of the Klingon bar as urban legend, somebody at the Steampunk con or the Bronie con would tell me they’d been there, guzzling bloodwine with the Klingons at some con in the past.

So I chased that Klingon bar 'round the Outer Nebula and 'round Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition’s flames. I didn’t find it at the San Francisco “Star Trek” con or Silicon Valley Comic Con. A source inside the Bay Area Klingon community told me those top-shelf cons were too expensive. You weren’t going to see Michael Dorn in a ridged forehead serving up Romulan Ale at this bar. These were working class Klingons here. They drove city buses for a living when they weren’t raiding Federation outposts.

I finally got tipped off that the Klingons were going to be slinging Saurian brandy at the 2016 Con-Volution, an appropriately hard-to-categorize gathering held at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, Calif., near San Francisco International Airport. I spent a day at Con-Volution and I’m still not sure how to describe it. It was a kind of gathering of the tribes, or maybe a convention for the people who put on other conventions.

Walking through the halls of the Hyatt, I saw the Bronies there representing BABScon, Furries holding up Further Confusion, and more than a few Stormtroopers with the 501st Legion. There was also a table of “Doctor Who” podcasters, and not just one, but three different Jedi lightsaber teams.

During the day there was the sorts of things you’d expect to find at any sci-fi con. There was a masquerade contest that was won by tentacles, a lecture on Japanese monsters and a workshop where you could learn to build your very own LED lightsaber.

But at night Con-Volution unleashes the beast. Con-Volution takes a whole wing of the Hyatt and converts it into a row of theme bars. There was a Twin Peaks bar, a Bronie bar and yes, a suite rebranded as the Black Hole bar, and it was helmed by Klingons in their finest battle armor. I had finally made it.

For tips and donations, the Klingons would pour you Bloodwine, Romulan Ale or a drink called the No Kill I, named after a creature from the original Star Trek that can bore through any substance. Like Con-Volution itself, this drink lived up to its name. After a couple of No Kill I’s and whatever the hell they were pouring at the Bronie bar, I was definitely green around the gills the next day.

Con-Volution 2017 is already scheduled for October 6-8 at the San Ramon [Calif.] Marriott. There is no word on if the Klingons will be tending bar there.

Every month in “Shattering Conventions,” author Bob Calhoun crashes a new tradeshow, convention or conference looking for a way to fit ineven when he doesn't always belong. Calhoun is the author of "Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor." You can follow him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun.

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