Conventions are back, and they are in full swing! We at Hubtaku had the wonderful pleasure of attending a con the weekend of July 15th-17th 2022 and all of us had a blast! The con in question is Dreamcon and we can promise you all that it’s a con unlike any other you have ever been.

 Anime conventions come in flavors, each having their own distinct style, purpose and branding focus. Conventions like Anime Expo and Crunchyroll Expo are more focused on the industry, giving fans the opportunity to attend panels where they hear directly from the creators as well as get sneak peeks and announcements. Then there are conventions such as Anime Weekend Atlanta or Metrocon which are focused on creating an experience for anime fans to meet others, have a good time, while also offering a platform for fans to talk about their interests. 

Why is Dreamcon different?

This is where Dreamcon differs. Dreamcon is an anime and gaming convention started by Black content creators RDCWorld and held its first convention back in 2018. While still being a very young convention it has most certainly garnered attention by being a convention that does not focus on the industry of anime itself, but rather the community of people who make it up, particularly those who are Black. Dreamcon’s focus was to highlight Black content creators and influencers within the anime community, and give them a space to express their love and passion for anime and gaming, while also creating an opportunity to connect with other Black anime and gaming fans they may not be able to find in their own hometown or community. This resulted in there being a focus on networking, the night life, and meeting up with people and connecting to them in this safe space.

Outside of the voice actors, none of the special guests were people within the industry. All of them were content creators with YouTube and Twitch channels, huge Instagram and Twitter followings, or business owners who sell anime fashion and merchandise. The few voice actors they did have were all Black also, showing off the growing number of Black voices in the anime industry. Even the panels were held by influencers and podcasters in the anime sphere. These panels ran more like game shows or opportunities to interact with the host and just have a good time for the most part. Some were informative also, such as advising those attending on how to protect their brand or monetize their content but the vast majority were about being silly and engaging with the people fans have come to watch through their laptop and phone screens. 

Outside of the panels and guests, there was also a particular emphasis on the nightlife. Dreamcon has definitely made a name for itself for hosting 18+ panels once the sun has set as well as having their own official 18+ afterparty. They collaborated with other businesses such as Plus Ultra Entertainment and LanParty to also host After Dark Go-Karting and clubbing events for the fans and guests to enjoy. Even outside of those official gatherings, many of the con attendees set up their own unofficial events with pool parties, late night drinking, and after after-parties. The focus was definitely around having fun.

This convention means business, literally!

Probably the most noticeable aspect of the con, is how it’s meant to be a networking opportunity. Not only are the guest and exhibitors content creators and influencers who have gotten brand deals with Viz Media and Crunchyroll, but many of them are also business owners with their own companies seeking to do collaborations with other creators. Many of the attendees are even up and coming TikTok celebrities who are seeking to learn from the best on how to turn this anime content creation business into something that generates revenue. This goes back to the panels which were on that aspect of branding and monetizing content. This convention was as much business as it was fun for helping attendees learn how to grow, hone their craft and be exceptional. 

Lastly, but easily the most important part of the convention, is how unabashed it is about being a con for Black people. The con is clearly meant to be a safe space for Black anime fans to share in their own personal experiences with others while also escaping the toxicity that can be found online. Not even 48 hours after the con ended, one such girl got attacked in a tweet for her sasuke cosplaying with the tweeter saying Sasuke is not a… well you can imagine the slur. But there everyone was positive! People uplifted those for cosplaying people their favorite characters regardless of skin color and there was no shame. The cosplayers had a space to embrace their craft and enter the cosplay contest, the businesses were able to find tons of support and love from the attendees, and the event itself was Black as heck.

Photo by: @nef.king

While there were issues with the convention itself, such as staffing, not enough tickets, scheduling, and organization amongst other things, people still had a blast and said they would be returning to the convention next year. Ultimately, Dreamcon is the ultimate, and perhaps the only con with a focus around not just content creators but Black nerdy content creators. It makes me hope to see this door open for other cons. Maybe one day there will be a con specifically for Black women in nerdy spaces or maybe another marginalized group seeking to have a space of their own. No matter the case, when one such con appears we will be there to discuss it. And when we do, we are happy you would be reading about it with us, and making us your Otaku Hub.