So, back in October, seemingly so long ago now, Fiance took me to my first ever Star Trek convention, Destination Star Trek London. Some of you will remember my previous post,Make It Sew (or should that be knit?), written in the run up to the convention when I was trying to knit myself a jumper with the Enterprise on the front. This is available to read here: http://wp.me/s2oAJc-290
The night before we went to London Fiance surprised me with an early birthday present, a red uniform t-shirt dress. This gift, which was two months early, cancelled out the necessity of finishing the jumper that weekend.
The following morning we were up fairly early checking our bags and making our way to the train station. I still managed to forget to take the charger for my mobile phone, but decided it didn’t matter because family had Fiance’s number if there was an emergency. We traveled to Kings Cross on the train then had to get the Underground to Bank then switch onto the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) for the remainder of the journey to the Premier Inn at Beckton, only a couple of stops on the DLR from Excel, the huge exhibition centre where the convention was being held. We went and checked in, left our bags in our room and headed back onto the DLR to go back to Excel. When we got there we had to work out which of the many halls we needed for Destination Star Trek London. There were people wearing a variety of different firefighters uniforms from around the world, there for a competition to exhibit their life saving skills and we tried not to get too caught up in them but to follow the Starfleet uniforms we saw instead. Excel was so big and down the middle of the halls ran a huge foodcourt with dinner options from all over the world. We found out where we needed to go to get our goody bags and presigned photos but the queue was really long so we decided to grab dinner before joining it. We headed for the pie stand and got steak pies but didn’t notice the cutlery on the side by the bin so attempted with some level of success to eat the pies with our fingers. After we ate we joined the queue for our goody bags. We each got a presigned photo too. Fiance got Ethan Phillips, Neelix on Voyager and I got Vaughn Armstrong who played Admiral Forrest on Enterprise among many other roles. After queuing there we went to join the queue to go in. It felt like we had waited for ages when the door was opened. Going in and seeing everything, the merchandise stands, the themed coffee areas (Klingon and Federation) and the booths for photos and autographs I was in awe, and also trying not to lose Fiance in the crowd, there was a bridge set you could buy a ticket to have your photo taken on and there was the museum with props and costumes from the films and different series. It was all so enchanting and unlike anything I had seen. People in a variety of costumes were everywhere and trying to identify them became a game. We went to the ‘Federation’ coffee bar and ended up with a coffee and a Romulan ale which I believe was a mix of spirits and soda water with blue colouring (in the Klingon coffee bar they had the same thing but red and sold as blood wine).
When the time came we joined the long queue to get into the next door down which led to the part that was sectioned off to be like a theatre where the five captains would be presented and the convention would be officially underway. We soon got in and found our seats. I think it was a guy from CBS playing MC and he introduced the guy who would present the section with the five captains. It was a captain of a different sort, the actor John Barrowman who played Captain Jack Harkness on Dr Who and Torchwood. It was great to see William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks and Scott Bakula up on the stage. There was a bit of a Q and A and the banter and witty answers made the audience laugh. It was interesting to see the relationship between them, especially Shatner and Stewart who had filmed together. After that we headed back to the hotel on the DLR.
On the Saturday morning I knew I was going to have my photo taken with Scott Bakula, who played Captain Jonathan Archer on the most recent series, Enterprise. He also played Sam Beckett on old family favourite, Quantum Leap so I was looking forward to the photo. Fiance and I both put on our uniforms before we went down for breakfast. Fiance wore his fleece over his uniform but I was proud of mine and didn’t cover it. That was a slight mistake as having got beans with my cooked breakfast and then a big mug of coffee I tried to sit up to the table so I wouldn’t spill beans down the uniform, caught the central table leg and sent the coffee flying down myself, all over the uniform. It burnt slightly but I was more concerned that I had coffee all down the uniform. I managed to get another coffee and eat my breakfast before going to try to dry the uniform off in our room. There were works on the DLR so there was a bus replacement service. We worked out where to catch it and headed back to Excel to start the second day.
The atmosphere was buzzing again as people milled around looking at the stands and the museum or joined the queues for drinks, autographs or photos. Fiance bought himself a ticket for a bridge photo and I already had the ticket for my photo with Scott. There were some talks from the central area from people like the producers and the guy who did the original models of the Enterprise as well as the costume parade/contest. Some of the actors were doing Q and A sessions in a separate area and the captains had their Q and A sessions in the theatre space we had been in on Friday evening. We hadn’t picked up the free tickets for the actors Q and A sessions on Saturday and the captains Q and A sessions would have cost money. We listened to Ronald D Moore and Ira Behr and the model guy. We also went to some of the Trekmate hosted discussions about the best episodes in each series (Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise). It was interesting for me as at that point the only series I had watched the whole way through was Deep Space 9.
We had a free ‘in person’ autograph from Marianna Hill included in our ticket price. Marianna played Dr Helen Noel in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode ‘Dagger of the Mind’ and has appeared in a wide variety of other roles outside the Star Trek franchise. She was running late to the convention though and we seemed to spend a lot of time waiting for her. It did give us time to purchase photographs for her to sign and also to decide on one other autograph each that we would pay for. Fiance chose Walter Koenig who played Pavel Chekov in The Original Series and the films featuring The Original Series cast. I chose Connor Trinneer who plays Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III on Enterprise.
The crowd gathered at the entrance to the queue for photos with Scott Bakula was large and the event stewards were trying to control it, somewhat successfully, with a system using the numbers on our photo tickets. By the time I had pushed through enough of the crowd to hear what was happening my number had passed so I pushed further to the front and showed the steward my ticket. He waved me through to join the line. There were some Oriental Trekkies in front of me in the line getting excited and giggly then a guy in the Enterprise uniform with a stuffed toy dog to represent Porthos, Captain Archer’s dog. The queue was not moving that quickly and by the time I had snaked my way along it to the table where we were asked to leave bags I was getting quite excited. I left my bag safe with the event staff who were manning the bag/photo pick up area and waited for my turn. I was called in to the photo area and was a little disappointed that Scott Bakula was in everyday dress, I think it would have been good if he had been in uniform. He asked how I was doing and I said pretty good then he put his arm around my shoulders, the photographer took the photo twice and then my turn was over. I waited a few minutes for my photo, collected my things and headed back to find Fiance.
On Saturday afternoon we participated in breaking a world record for the most people in Star Trek costume in one place. We queued for ages and had to fill in forms so they could register it officially. It was so much fun though seeing everyone in the outfits, some in Starfleet uniforms, standard and dress spanning the franchise from The Original Series to the first JJ Abrams film, and others as members of the other races featured in the franchise. One person even turned up as Balok’s puppet from The Original Series episode ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’ which was impressive. When the doors opened we all filed in and were counted, then we waited as they tried to get every single person in the building that was in costume to come down to the theatre space. They started to tell us how close we were at the point where we needed about twenty to break the record and the anticipation was almost as exciting as the moment they stopped counting down and told us we had broken the record. We broke it by 23 people in the end.
After the record-breaking we had dinner at the food court and then waited for the ‘The Next Generation 25th Birthday Party’ to start. Once the doors opened it took a while for the party to get going but eventually the music and the atmosphere made it seem more fun. There were dodgems but the queue was always so long that we never got to go on them but the DJ and the music were good, especially when he played Star Trekkin’ (Across The Universe) and everyone tried to join in. The best part of the evening was when some of the stars of the shows proved that acting is not their only talent. Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko – DS9) and Chase Masterson (Leeta – DS9) sang some jazz songs, Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather – ENT) performed some hip hop/rap and then Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed – ENT) came on to do some comedy which wasn’t that funny so that’s when we left.
As we headed back to the stop for the replacement bus service I suggested that Fiance and I could wear our Star Trek uniforms for the evening celebration part of our wedding day. I could imagine myself dancing away in my red uniform t-shirt dress.
On Sunday we made sure we got there on time to pick up as many tickets to the free Q and A sessions as we wanted. It was great and we spent the morning in three sessions, Brent Spiner (Data), John De Lancie (Q) and Walter Koenig (Chekov). Spiner and De Lancie were funny, showing their comedic sides and Walter Koenig was a little more nostalgic although with a few humorous points. It was interesting hearing some of the stories.
The next session was probably the funniest. It was with Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat – DS9), Jeffrey Combs (Brunt and Wayoun – DS9 Shran – ENT) and Casey Biggs (Damar – DS9). They were so funny playing off each other and messing around, I’m not sure how many questions were answered but it was an entertaining session.
We got lunch in the food court and had another wander round the museum section before we headed back.
Our next session was with four of the actresses, Arlene Martel (T’Pring – TOS), Robin Curtis (Saavik – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar – TNG) and Martha Hackett (Seska – VOY). It was especially interesting to me to hear the debate one question started over the presence of strong female roles in Sci-Fi. The conclusion seemed to be that there are strong female roles in Sci-Fi and especially in the Star Trek franchise but it would be good to see more.
The next session was my favourite as it was with five of the Deep Space 9 cast members, Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Andrew Robinson (Garak) and last but by no means least Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko). As these were the characters I knew best I loved hearing the stories of what happened on set and whether they got to have a say in the plot lines for their character. Some of the stories were of personal memories and they touched a little on their personal lives now. It was a bit odd to see Cirroc all grown up and hear him talking about his family as I had kind of fallen for his character Jake Sisko.
Next up was Michael Dorn who played Worf on The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 and in four of the films. His stories were also interesting and it was good to see the man beneath the make up and his character is a Klingon and has the characteristic head ridges.
The last talk was the Enterprise guys, Connor Trinneer, Dominic Keating (who on the ticket was billed as Michael) and Anthony Montgomery. They were nearly as funny as Alaimo, Combs and Biggs had been but a little more on the ‘naughty’ side. This was the session that had the most ‘spoilers’ for me having not watched the entire Enterprise series at that point. It came as somewhat of a shock to hear that ‘Trip’ was going to die.
After the Enterprise Q and A there were no more and nothing else especially exciting to do. With one last stroll through the museum we said good by to Destination Star Trek London and headed back to our hotel. We had dinner at the hotel that evening and watched some TV and the following morning jumped back on the DLR and headed home.
It was a fab weekend and we had a lot of fun together. I would definitely go to another convention if the opportunity presented itself. For now I’m going to enjoy discovering more about the world of Star Trek with Fiance 🙂
P.S This post was started back in March and took a fair amount of stepping away and coming back, so much so that Fiance is now Husband and I have watched the rest of Enterprise and also just finished The Next Generation 🙂