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Life Skills for Fanboys:  Get Your Room Party Together

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.

Room Parties

Room Parties are a great thing to have a conventions.  They are especially prevalent at sci-fi/fantasy cons, but sadly missing from most comic book conventions.  I’ve seen them done right and I’ve seen them done wrong.

Public or Private

Most room parties are going to be public.  That’s kind of the point at a convention.  If you’re just going to hang out with your friends, you can do that at home.  Of course, some “convention friends” you only see at conventions, so that makes sense.  Veteran party throwers tend to go private because if they’re any good at throwing a party, they’ve been around when one ballooned out of control.

Private parties are easier because they will have a set guest list.  There’s a finite amount of food and drink you need and it’s probable that all the guests have already been screened and are decent, not sloppy drunk folks.  Sure, you’ll get a few newbies, but they’ll be limited.  So, if you’re going to start with a party and you already have a list of friends, you really can’t go with a private one.  Just don’t let it spill out into the hotel hallway.  You don’t want to openly advertise it to the rest of the con goers that can’t go.

And hold your ground.  If it’s private, keep it private.  Don’t suddenly open the floodgates because you have an urge to be popular.  It can snowball out of control.  So mostly, when we’re talking about parties in this column, we’re really talking about the public ones.

The Size

The size is going to be key when throwing a party.  If you don’t control the flow of people and have a good handle of how many people are coming, you can end up with a party that gets shut down.

Hotel rooms are not really designed for parties.  Depending on the size of your room, a small room party can probably hold about 8 to 12 people comfortably.  Beyond that, you’re probably going to have to move the furniture.

At Dragon Con, I once saw the Klingon Club set up the right way.  They had a corner room, which was bigger than most rooms in the hotel.  They set up the credenza as a bar and moved the bed and other furniture out of the way.  You still had bathroom access and personal belongings had been stowed away so no one could see them.  (Probably in the closet.)

Additionally, the club had a doorman to control the flow in and out of the room.  He kept things from getting too crowded and during the slow times, his presences outside the door indicated a public party that you can visit.

Contrast that with a corner room party, also at Dragon Con, that spiraled out of control.  It began with the promise of a show with two girls doing light bondage as part of a magazine launch.  (I don’t remember exactly, I just wander around at these things sometimes.)  So I went into the room and it was packed with, as you might imagine, horny fanboys wanting to see a show.

It was packed.  Too packed.  And there was a second room that was VIP’s only and allegedly had an “orgy” going on.  Quite frankly, it sounded like a lot of posturing to me.  The booze ran out and without a doorman, the hotel finally shut the thing down.  It just sucked and wasn’t a very good marketing technique for whatever magazine was being promoted.  Party fail.

To Booze or Not Booze

I don’t really drink, so your drinks-only party will probably not appeal to me.  But others like to get their drink on and I don’t begrudge them one bit.  That being said, if you do serve booze you have to take precautions.  You have to card.  Yeah, you do.  If you get caught serving alcohol to a minor you can be arrested, not to mention the fact that the minor will probably get into more trouble he or she can’t handle.

Like a bartender, you gotta watch out if people get too intoxicated.  Alcohol poisoning is real and so is alcoholism.  Some people just step on the gas and don’t know when to let up.  Anyone’s that been to college has seen it.  And do you really need some stranger throwing up on your hotel bed because you decided to let him chug a Yager bomb?  No.  The most responsible member of your party crew needs to be your bartender.  Don’t be afraid to cut people off.  It’s your party and your booze.

If you don’t have booze, well, have some damn food.  Supermarket brand soda and nachos is party food for your D&D session, not convention folk.  Go the extra mile, buy some party trays, make some nice dip and food.  Food that requires a fork and spoon is another level, then you have to worry about utensils.  I say, keep it at appetizer range.  If you’re going to have big trays of chicken marsala, you might consider renting a conference room and hiring food servers if you want to spend that kind of money.  Paper plates, forks and napkins quickly pile up.  Which brings us to the next pressing issue…

The Trash

The maids at a hotel are only going to do so much before they start flagging you for doing damage to the hotel.  The size of your trash receptacle has to be on par with the amount of people you have.  The wastepaper basket that came with the room probably isn’t going to cut it with 30 some odd people flowing in and out of the room.  Once the trash starts to overflow, none of your partygoers are going to suddenly volunteer to clean up.  It’s your room, your tab, stay on top of it.

The Noise

If it comes a shock to you that other people will be in the hotel NOT participating in the convention, then you need this paragraph of advice.  When you book your hotel room and decide to have a party, ask the hotel for a room on the same floor as other parties and convention guests.  (At Dragon Con, that’s usually the whole hotel!)  Some cons specifically rent certain floors, make sure you’re on one of them where people will be up all night.  This is going to determine how much noise you can make and for how long.  If you can’t get on the right floor, you might have to scale back your party and ditch the “rave” you were planning.

On the flip side, if you’re attending a con and insist on NOT staying up all night, then book a room on a quiet floor.  I cannot tell you how many times convention partygoers were turned in by fellow con attendees!  If you really expected to crash out early at a gaming con, I’m wondering if you understand what a gaming con is!  Bring earplugs and book your room accordingly.  Hell, sometimes it’s better to stay at a nearby hotel so you can escape the con chaos.


One of the main reasons room parties fail at cons is because they are not organized.  You can’t start planning a party five minutes after the Dealer’s Room closes.  That’s fine for you and your drunken friends, but don’t open the doors and start inviting the whole con.  You’ll be out of booze, food and patience inside of an hour.

Tell people you’re having a party!  If you did bother to plan and spend all this money, then put up a sign, spread the word, do a tweet—  I went to sad room party once where the couple had TONS of food and booze.  But there were so many competing parties and they had booked in the far corner of the hotel, no one came.

That’s another thing.  Remember that there will be competing room parties.  At a place like Dragon Con, you really have a lot of competition, so be aware.  One of the most insane things that happens almost every year there (it’s held Labor Day weekend, so it goes Thursday to Monday).  By Sunday, the booze starts to run out and no one can get booze.  Unfortunately, no one seems to want to save their party and party booze for Sunday.  Dragon Con is notorious for blowing their wad on Saturday and then forcing everyone to get drunk in the Hyatt.  I say unto you, Dragon Con party planners, save a few room parties for Sunday!


And if you’re in a place where there are many competing room parties, it can’t hurt to have a theme.  I went to one at Philcon where the party was a hot sauce tasting.  It was fun and one I definitely wasn’t going to miss.  Don’t just tap a beer ball and throw the hotel door open.  We’re geeks, we’re supposed to be smarter and creative.  The all time best was the Klingon Club serving their own homemade Rhomulan Ale (homemade beer with blue food dye).  Most of them were in costume too.  It was a blast.


When throwing a party, your first order of business is safety, then organization, a little bit of marketing and then fun.  But understand, you’re taking on a responsibility.  If you’re throwing the party, you probably won’t have much time to actually enjoy it.  So make the choice.  If you want to party hard, go party.  But if you want to be party thrower king, to wear that crown, you’re going to have to work at it.

Obesity at Cons

The Art of Conversation


The Line Between Fans and Pros

Geek Elitism

Convention Panels

Convention Volunteers

Food Gifts

Women and Cons