Wizards Throw the Best Parties

Fellow Annenberg student Paul Falzone sends along an article from Salon: “Potterpalooza,” one journalist’s take on a Harry Potter convention in New Orleans. The author’s outsider perspective is interesting, describing it as something of a geek paradise:

Despite my quibbles with overzealous fan-fic authors, this was one hell of an accepting crowd, one in which a teenager was as welcome to weigh in as a professor, where discussion of philosophy was as compelling as discussion of technology, where it didn’t matter if you were from a Christian fundamentalist or Wiccan background, and where even the fiercest debate could teach an ardent fan something new.

There’s quite a bit in here about “wizard rock,” too, what sounds like a surprisingly active music scene separate from (but probably compatible with) lab nerd music and nerdcore hip-hop:

Carpenter [of the Remus Lupins], 23, who graduated last year from UCLA with a degree in English, has 55 concert dates scheduled this summer. He describes wizard rock as “probably the coolest summer job you’ll ever have.”

I asked the puppyish Carpenter if the hordes of boys and girls hanging on him throughout the conference meant that wizard rock has helped him score some horntail. He grinned and said, “There is a very strong distinction between opportunity and what you do about it. Wizard rockers are known for being pretty good guys, and behaving well. Because we’re dorks.” […]

Though they’ve taken on the personae of Slytherin brats, the women [of The Parselmouths] said their favorite Potter characters are the outcasts — Neville, Draco, Snape and Luna Lovegood. “We are complete dorks,” said Horner, entering some bizarro universe in which she was trying to convince me of how uncool she is. In high school, they explained, they enrolled in an advanced computer class. “The boys in it looked at us and decided to treat us like we didn’t know anything,” said Horner. “But it turned out we knew a lot,” said Vahlberg. “Yeah, we recorded and produced our own CD, so clearly we know a little bit about computers?” added Horner in pitch-perfect upspeak.

I think it’s interesting how the musicians here refer to themselves as “dorks,” which (according to the folks I’ve talked to) is by far the most socially-inept of the geek/nerd/dork triumvirate. The author is sure to remind us that there’s enough crazy sexy stuff going on, though, to redeem the even the dorkiest:

Back in the ballroom, I was beginning to agree with Brittany Vahlberg that this was way better than prom. In fact, people anxious to host lively wedding receptions might want to consider asking their guests to dress in wizard garb. Boys danced with girls, girls danced with girls, boys danced with boys, and doxies danced with dementors. Everyone looked pretty, and if not pretty, then pretty weird. Guys lost their shirts. People were grinding, making out, hugging. They line-danced. They drank. They did the time warp. (Oh, did they do the time warp…) A couple got engaged. I was pretty sure that the Potter fans did everything that was legal (and some things that weren’t) on that dance floor. My only surprise was that Bianca Jagger did not enter on a horse. In fact, I had the Rolling Stones in my head. “The music’s screaming, my feet are flying, everybody’s laughing, and nobody’s crying.”

Well, for now, anyway. Give it two months.

This last sentence, of course, is a reference to how devastated many Potter fans expect to be when the story ends. This stands in contrast to how happy Lost and Battlestar Galactica fans seem to be that their series have endings in site—but then again, when a TV show drags on, it means sitting through pointless “filler” episodes. New Harry Potter books are spaced out enough that fans can provide the filler themselves without too much worry that their machinations will be undone with next week’s installment.