DashCon (originally named Tumbl-Con USA and later changed to indicate that it was not officially associated with Tumblr). is a defunct fan convention created by Tumblr users and for Tumblr users. It took place at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois, spanning from July 11th to July 13th, 2014.
The convention failed in epic proportions and became infamous thanks to allegations of mismanagement and corruption among organizers.
A succeeding event named Emoti-Con was originally planned for 2015, but the plan was scrapped even before it became a thing.
"We believe the people of Tumblr deserve a space of their own. A safe space where they can meet their friends, learn about what interests them, and have as much fun as humanly possible in a weekend. We love the people of Tumblr, and we want them to have this, they deserve it. As a community so full of love, support, and creativity, we want them to have a place where they can really connect, give them chances to collaborate and connect outside of their laptops."
DashCon was originally announced in mid-2013 and was touted as the "largest gathering of Tumblr users to date". The convention was to focus on works that have developed significant followings among Tumblr users, such as Doctor Who, Sherlock, Attack on Titan, Supernatural and the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. The convention raised money through ticket pre-orders, along with a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo.
Tickets for Saturday cost $45, the ones for the weekend cost $65, although an additional $5 was needed to see the Steam Powered Giraffes perform live and $15 more was needed to attend the Welcome To Night Vale live reading.
The crowdfunding campaign ended on March 14, 2013 (said to have failed in meeting its goal) and the convention was scheduled to take place on July 11th in the next year, leaving nearly 500 days for the organizers and admins to prepare. It wasn't going to be perfect, for sure, but as Bubsy the Bobcat once said: "What could possibly go wrong?".
Friday, July 11th, Day 1
Pretty much EVERYTHING.
The first day of the convention arrived and it already looked like it was headed for disaster. Only 1/10 of the estimated 5,000 people showed up, and nothing was scheduled until 1PM, leaving everyone with little to nothing to do. The facility of the convention only made things worse: The promised giant ball pit? Barely large enough to fit 5 people! The gaming room? One TV and one console! Oh, the Steam Powered Giraffe performance was dropped only 5 days after the initial announcement of involvement! Sorry that we didn't tell you that. Also - no refunds! It's just 5 bucks after all!
Even when things did get started, it was pretty boring and slow. We had a few dull boards about live-streaming and "Depression and Anxiety Tools and Support" a vendor left due to poor sales, and kids were being admitted into BDSM and 18+ rated panels.
At 9pm, disaster finally struck. The organizers rounded up everyone and informed that the patriarchal hotel decided to ignore the organizer's verbal reminder that they would pay for the venues gradually throughout the convention using ticket sales and wanted its venues paid immediately. The attendees needed to raise a total of $17,000 in an hour or the hotel would shut down the Con and kick everyone out.
People were pretty upset, some started to cry, others started to scream "extortion!". Organizers, admins and staff scrambled and shook down attendees for donations by literally passing a donation bag around the crowd and posted a donate link on their official Tumblr and Twitter. DashCon's Twitter even spammed this donation plea to the accounts of Will Wheaton, Neil Gaiman, John Green, members of Welcome to Night Vale. Eventually the news reached Tumblr and some are starting to get suspicious: Why in the name of JW Marriott would the hotel change its terms in the middle of a convention?
Unwilling to make themselves to look incompetent and tell the truth that the $17,000 was a matter of payment for debts owed, DashCon organizers stated that the Renaissance was simply demanding more money because they aren't fans of Tumblr users. The attendees were more than happy to buy the story and started to put up an increasingly negative attitude for the hotel employees to see. They stayed grouped in the room singing Queen's "We Are The Champions" and tracks from Les Miserables in protest to their "oppression". Organizers would later be recounted that as a "riot" to interviewers.
Eventually, the $17,000 was raised and DashCon organizers simply deleted the donation request post and pretended no mishap have ever occurred. Of course, most people were not satisfied.
- Organizer: "Cain was in tears because of you, because of how perfect and beautiful and generous you all are."
- Random Audience: "Yeah what's to stop you from doing this again ten minutes later? What if you want more money?"
Sure enough, plenty of people started to call the convention a scam and this caused a bit of unrest among the attendees who tried to root out the "haters" with no luck.
Saturday, July 12th, Day 2
Well, Day 2 was supposed to be when the major events started, but DashCon was still as empty as ever. Most people were gathered around in the game room huddled around the single TV and a handful of laptops. A few embarrassingly bad cosplays and several bland LGBT buzzword-based panels were held, but excitement mounted for the guests that DashCon promised: Welcome to Night Vale, Baker Street Babes, etc. Several were already disappointed that Steam Powered Giraffe was allowed to bail while their special tickets were nonrefundable, but fans traveled from as far as Florida to see Cecil Baldwin and other members of Welcome to Night Vale perform a live radio show outside their regular scheduled tour just for DashCon. Some even started to go online and taunt the "haters" about being minutes away from meeting their internet idols.
So, it reached 12:50 and still no sign of the much-loved Podcast group, people were getting quite confused. Then the final straw came:
"Basically, Night Vale just walked."
General reaction: "What?" "What?!" "WHAT?!" "Give me back my money!!!"
Turns out they didn't come because somehow the organizers didn't pay them! No, it's not their fault! It's PayPal's problem! That Stupid thing had to malfunction at the wrong moment so they couldn't receive the money! Damn you, Elon Musk!
Oh, while you guys are waiting, we made slight changes to the rules: No Refunds! LOL!
To make matters worse, plenty of other guests were throwing tantrums as well after they found out that their hotel suites weren't even paid for (Noelle Stevenson was forced to sleep on a couch AND moderate her own panel because the staff were never there when they were needed). Essentially, attendees of DashCon had wasted all this time for nothing.
Things were even worse for teenage helpers who oversaw the majority of DashCon's operations while its admins hid behind curtains. They were essentially running free with whatever authority a plastic badge with "STAFF" printed on it could grant them. They also made up a security team to protect the young Con attendees from their parents' shame and the criticism of their peers. These staffers were promised free food by the admins but none was provided.
The organizers did there best they could to apologize for this mistake that was blatantly the fault of Musk's wonky creation. Also, it was the Welcome To Night Vale staff's fault too because like, they didn't even want to get paid or something! Basically it was everyone's fault EXCEPT for DashCon's. DashCon did nothing wrong!
An attempt to apologize was made by offering these ticket holders entry to a raffle of various autographed collectibles. This was not only a stupid consolation but the prizes were items originally purchased as rewards for donors to the original crowdfunding for DashCon. It seemed that admins never sent these rewards to their rightful owners.
Even more hilarious, the consolation for everyone that have paid extra for WTNV is an one hour of free play in that half-deflated, pee filled ball pit.
And with that, a meme was born, and it was probably the only good thing to ever come out of this convention.
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Sunday, July 13th, Day 3
Conventions, on the final day, usually progress extra slowly. And DashCon was no exception. The majority of attendees, guests and panelists had bailed out already. Artist's Alley vendors reported depressingly low sales since every youngster attending most likely donated their cash. The ball pit also got taken away, most likely because some troll marked his territory to say the least, in it. Well, at least Doug Jones showed up to meet with the remaining attendees, so that didn't go wrong!
And by 1PM, everything was done.
But Wait, There's More!
- Turns out the galaxy pattern banner used on Dashcon.org was actually copyrighted material taken from a space themed artist and repeated to disguise the original piece of art.
- DashCon also reportedly screened Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog despite not being allowed to obtain the rights. This brought up questions about whether or not they had legal permission to screen Pacific Rim either.
- Volunteer panelists signed agreements that if they drew over 100 attendees to their panels their badges would be reimbursed yet no one was ever given money. Emails sent to Dashcon asking about these reimbursements were all ignored.
- Also, the charity group Random Acts, which DashCon claims to be partnered with, has never made any partnership deals with Dashcon.
- The $17,000? Most of it likely got pocketed out by the organizers themselves!
- Not even the after-con orgy went right! As private diseases such as pubic lice were spread.