Confession: I only spent about 2-3 hours at Comic-Con this year. If you needed to find me, the place I spent the most time was Nerd HQ. It’s no secret that Nerd HQ has a special place in my heart. And this year, my con experience wasn’t so much about the celebrities & panels as it was more about the people. I’ve met life-long friends specifically through Nerd HQ, and so my heart just feels that pull every July to be there and make that a priority. I always adore HQ, and this year was no different.
The New Children’s Museum was the venue this year – and I loved it. The Nerd Machine had the entire 3 floors of the building to create a haven for nerds. The bottom floor was for the Conversations for a Cause (which you can see on the Nerd Machine’s YouTube page), the main floor for hanging out, taking photos, and dancing, while the top floor was devoted to gaming. Again, HQ was FREE to enter, and any Conversation ticket or Smiles for Smiles went to Operation Smile.
I was lucky this year and scored 5 different Conversations for a Cause: Zac Levi, Mr. Robot, Nathan Fillion, Badass Women, and The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. Again, the tickets were $22 and all proceeds went to Operation Smile. With every sold out panel, 16 children will now be able to smile freely. THAT’S INCREDIBLE. There were so many panels this year, and some panelists included: Joss Whedon, Supernatural, The Last Ship, William Shatner, and the founders of Operation Smile (I encourage you to check that one out.)
There were also many old & new faces at the photo booths for Smiles for Smiles this year. Staples like Yvonne Strahovski, Nathan Fillion, and Alan Tudyk were around and some new faces like Hayley Atwell, Clark Gregg, Tyler Posey, and the cast of Con Man joined in on the photo booth fun. Unfortunately, Zac didn’t have a Smiles photo opportunity this year – but folks... he was BUSY. I know if he could have squeezed any more time in his day to do one, he would have. But there is always next year if you missed out to meet the incredible Mr. Levi.
This year there were TWO nerd parties – and they were EPIC. I went to both this year, and each night was incredibly fun. It was great to let loose and blow off some steam and just HAVE FUN. And bonus, a bunch of celebs would often come down to the dance floor and party with us nerds. But for future HQ parties I have a general plea: please DO NOT record/take a pic if a celebrity decides to join you on the dance floor. PLEASE. They are there to have fun and blow off steam too... and wouldn’t you rather DANCE with your favorite celebrity than take a blurry picture of it? I know I would! Everyone is way more comfortable if phones aren’t always out and everyone can just dance together. I know it’s tempting, but just try and enjoy the memory instead of getting in someone’s face with your phone. Trust me, you’ll remember the moment!
Overall I think everything worked really smoothly at HQ this year. The RFID tags worked SO MUCH BETTER than last year and the registration process was generally efficient and easy. The app seemed to be less glitchy and every announcement was either tweeted out or had a push notification on the app. No stadium seating for the Conversations were a bit of a bummer, but they did have TVs in the panel room broadcasting if you couldn’t see. While last year felt a bit crowded at Petco, this year had more of a relaxed/hang out vibe. It wasn’t complete wall to wall people (although traffic was steady) and you truly felt like you could sit on a couch, charge your phone, and chat with people.
Like I said, for me, this year wasn’t about the celebrities... it was about so so much more. Last week was about reconnecting and strengthening bonds with friends, giving to an amazing organization, having FUN, and forgetting the outside world for a while.
I haven't felt like I've truly been able to just breathe and let loose in a long time. But HQ was so good for my soul. It changed me yet again. Thank you, nerds... thank you for laughing with me, smiling with me, giving EPIC hugs, crying with me, and dancin’ with me. You all made this a damn near perfect trip.
It costs nothing to be kind, and I have been blessed beyond measure. <3
I hope your Nerd HQ experience was just as amazing as mine. Onward to NerdHq 2016! As always, thank you for reading! Xoxo