Room Party

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Synonyms:
See also: Rule Six Party
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Room parties are small fan gatherings held in individual hotel rooms at conventions. The tradition dates back at least as far as the early days of science fiction fandom. (The Hugo Award-winning SF fanzine File 770 was named after a particularly epic room party held in Room 770 at the 1951 Worldcon. [1] [2])

Most room parties are informal and invites are spread via word of mouth. This has led some fans to complain that private room parties are exclusionary and cliquish, forcing the uninitiated to wander the hotel hallways looking for the signs of a partially propped open door and the squeal of fannish laughter. However, some conventions allow fans to advertise their room parties via the voodoo message boards (and in later years via mailing lists, blogs and twitter). Room parties can be focused on a specific theme (ex: the Supernatural room party or the K/S room party). Or they can be centered around a fan club or a mailing list (ex. the Virgule-L mailing list room parties of the 1990s).

Since most hotel rooms are small, room parties usually mean that fans are forced to stand in corners, sit on the floor and even pile together on the beds. Food and drinks are often provided by the hosts, but if the numbers are expected to be large, there may be a call for donations of food, soft drinks or alcohol. Bathtubs are filled with ice to keep the drinks cold. The combination of close quarters, food and drink (and in early years cigarette smoking) can make the room party experience quite claustrophobic but to fans who often have little or no opportunity to see one another in person, it is well worth it to be able to talk about your favorite TV shows, books and fandoms.

Room party activities include general chatting, reading of fan fiction, filk singing, a Turkey Read performance, or songvid watching. The parties often stretch into the early morning hours so that some hotels require conventions to police the room parties for noise and over exuberance. As a result, larger conventions, like ZebraCon and MediaWest will book a large suite or meeting room that fans can reserve for heavily attended room parties. The convention then ensures that the surrounding rooms are assigned to fans attending the convention to keep the number of noise complaints to a minimum. How these fans feel about being assigned to a room near the festivities depends on the fan's capacity for partying themselves. Other conventions will assign a specific block of evening hours, usually Friday or Saturday evening, to allow fans to wander from room party to room party without disrupting the other hotel guests in the early morning hours.

Usage

  • "I remember that Bev went to a room party somewhere in the hotel that Saturday night and came back to regale me with stories about how these fans had leaped on her when she walked in, and how excited everyone was about Contact! She met Jacqueline Lichtenberg there, Connie Faddis, artist Alice Jones, and several others whom we considered – who were considered – "BNF", an antiquated acronym for "Big Name Fan." I was so upset that I missed it all!" ~ Nancy Kippax in Reminisce With Me/1976 - A Most Amazing Year! (1976)
  • Joan Verba writes about the first SeKWester*Con in Boldly Writing: "This was a marvelous convention. The Crosstown Holiday Inn was a two-story motel designed so that all the doors to all the rooms faced the parking lots (on either side of the motel). In order to find a room party, or a fan to talk to, one had only to walk up and down the parking lot to an open door." (1976)
  • "Stevie and Carrie and I all flew to New York City for the first Star Trek convention in 1972. It was a grand adventure. We met so many people that we had only known by name. ...We had infamous parties in our hotel room which included D.C. Fontana and Hal Clement. We served our cocktail invention, the "Pon Farr." ~ Carrie Brennan and Judith Brownlee's M.L. Barnes memorials in Datazine #37. (1972)
  • "MWC LIST PARTY: The list party started at 9:00 pm on Saturday night in Carol R.'s hotel room. It was combined with the APA party, since there were so many overlapping members, and after "Dick" was played in the hotel room, we adjourned to the bar, the big-screen television and its corresponding VCR, and alcohol." ~ Charlotte Hill's MediaWest convention report (1994).
  • "The ESCAPADE Party: (name changed to protect the fragile feelings of those other fans of that nasty old-boys fandom) The party on Friday night went really well, I thought. I never got to a liquor store, but Kathy S. and Gayle G. fixed that by coming up for a visit and gifting us with some very pleasant wines (chardonays and zinfandels). People were buzzed enough by the time we worked our way to the "bag-o-wine" that they didn't notice the drop in quality. Songvids were played, furniture was re-arranged, Morgan Dawn copied stories onto floppy disk for people, and I had a very nice evening, personally." ~Alexfandra's ZebraCon report (1995)
  • "I think I shopped for an hour, and then went to the Starsky and Hutch party. HL was annoyed that I missed the Lost party, and so was I, since apparently a photo of Sawyer was threatened by small stuffed boars, but the S&H party was great! She did forgive me and gave me a picture of Charlie. Lots of food, some left over from the Lostaways, continuous vid shows, and dancing to the music (mostly by me and Jen whenever Discovery Channel was playing). I handed out magnets and stickers and let people oggle my rare pic of PMG [Paul Michael Glaser]. Flamingo is the sweetest person ever and she gives good hugs." ~ Dawnwind's Zebracon report (2005)
  • "I think the (Pros) party went ok. Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was much laughter and talking. The party bags were black (couldn’t find any green ones); had a picture of Doyle on one side and Bodie on the other; a disk with pictures and articles; a Swiss roll, and the bottle of Scotch. Each attendee was given a ticket for drawings. We gave away several trinkets with small handcuffs, a Larton Chronicles disk courtesy of Elessar, one of my Pros 2003 songvid DVDs, Arabian Nights (zine), and a beautiful Pros travel mug courtesy of Media Mugs. The winner justacat of the ‘name that episode’ game received a region-free DVD set of the series." ~ recycledmedia's ZebraCon report (2005).

References

  1. The Canadian Fancyclopedia, Room 770 Last accessed (via the Wayback Machine) October 24, 2011.
  2. Wikipedia, File 770. Last accessed October 24, 2011.
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