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Print this pageEmail to a friendDammit Janet Convention
9th-10th October 2004
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Dammit Janet
St Giles Hotel, Hounslow Road, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 9AD, UK

TimeWarp Review Saturday, October 16th, 2004

Well it was just a week ago that we were all at the first Dammit Janet event. I wanted to wait a little while before I posted my review as so many of you kindly sent us your feedback of the day. Like most events there were different opinions of how well it all went, so I am trying to make the review as fair as possible and any criticism is intended to be constructive! Thanks to all that sent comments, it has helped a great deal. I am not going to get into any 'personal differences of opinion' anyone may have had as this review is intended to be as neutral as possible.:-)

The Venue/Hotel

Despite a change of venue from the one originally advertised the vast majority of people, including Stephanie and myself, thought the hotel was just right for the number of attendees at the event (probably around the 100 mark, didn't count and didn't ask to be honest). The rooms were a reasonable rate, sixty five pounds for two people with breakfast and parking included in the price (eight quids worth if you arrived Sat am and left Sun pm), most people said they wouldn't have wanted to pay much more to stay at any event. As to the change of venue, we didn't enquire as to the nitty gritty of this, but at least it was better than the change for the fan event in Las Vegas when they told us to make our own way to a few miles away from the hotel we were staying in. They told us that one as we checked in to the hotel we thought the event was at! The only people that really lost out were the ones that had booked their own rooms at the original Dammit Janet venue rather than using the offer with the event as they had problems cancelling their hotel rooms. The venue was easy to find, close to the motorways and next to a railway station. The local shops were also not too far away.

The main complaint we had about the venue was a lack of food available in the restaurant on the Saturday afternoon, the meal we had in the restaurant on the Saturday night was very good and a reasonable price for the quality offered. The hotel also made no objections to the scantily clad guys and gals running around in costume all weekend. The rooms were comfortable and the hotel allowed early check on the Saturday morning in at no extra cost (you just had to ask).

The Dammit Janet venue itself was right for the number of people there, one thing people thought was missing was a room to store their bags after they had checked out on the Sunday morning. For a two day event that is a great thing to add as it allows people to enjoy the second day without worrying about carrying around their luggage.

There was a Dealers Room (with two commercial dealers, TimeWarp, and the Clacton Rocks/Charity team), a main room and separate lounge, we missed the Friday night set up ourselves as we arrived very early on the Saturday so didn't see the original order the rooms had been set out (the two main rooms were swapped around at attendees requests) and an Autograph Signing Room and Green Room.

The Event

The event was rescheduled to a two day event rather than as mentioned in the original flyers, a Friday night party before the event as well. I think in hindsight the event would have been better advertised as just the two day event rather than billed as 8th to 10th October, if a party could have been sorted for the Friday night that could have been billed as a bonus item rather than part of the main event. Most people also tended to need to travel home early evening on the Sunday for work the next day, so the end time of around 5pm on the Sunday seemed appropriate.

The first consistent suggestion from all those of you that wrote in was for the organisers to adopt some kind of uniform for future events, even if they just had T-Shirts with Staff writ large across them. When we ran our own events we had a huge advantage that many people have known us for years and we could get away with a small badge with Staff written on it, lot's of people mentioned it was hard telling who the Autographmania people were at the event. One to address for next time guys!

Another point of feedback was the general organisation of the two days also needed a little more work. Now I want to be fair to all concerned here and say that Autographmania have written to say they want to take on suggestions and comments from those that attended and make their future events better, they are willing to learn how Rocky fans like their events to be run and they have posted several notices on various message boards. A few more announcements throughout the day as to what was happening would have helped, especially those wishing to take part in costume competitions as it would have given them a better idea of when to get ready. Autographmania have said on the boards this is an area where they admit they would have liked to have done better, they will be addressing this for future events.

The main difference between this and previous Rocky events was the autograph sessions. Here in the UK Rocky fans have not been used to paying for autographs from the guests. Rocky fans seem to have been the exception to the rule on this one in the past as most major (non fan run) sci-fi events have paid signings, fans in the USA may be a lot more used to paying for the autographs than we have been as it seems to have started there. This seems to be the way that a lot of guests make money from the events now (whether it covers their attendence fees or they receive the money direct and we haven't asked which applies for Dammit Janet), this wasn't a major complaint from people as such, just a surprise to those that had attended previous UK events.

The two days featured some great Guest Forums with the wonderful Stephen Calcutt (Transylvanian), the beautiful Patricia Quinn (original Magenta) and the very talented Sue Blane (costume designer). Patricia and Stephen did a forum on each day with Sue attending on the Sunday. The event had also hoped to have Sadie Corre (Transylvanian) there on the Sunday, but we were told that she was unable to attend. The original advertised host for the event Michael Sheard was ill and his place was taken by the very competent Simon, a man who started on the Saturday thinking we were all a little strange and then stripped off to reveal Stockings and suspenders on the Sunday. There are also some picture floating around the web of him wearing a gold spacesuit after a few drinks on the Saturday night (allegedly).

There were also some costume competitions throughout the weekend, a little bit more planning could have gone into them but there were no complaints as to the winners of any catagory (unlike the constant gripes on the newsgroups we've seen of previous non-UK events). Judges included various long time fans as well as the guests, with different judges for most competitions.

Marty from the Forks also did a 'Pre Show Workshop' on the Saturday evening. Now when I first heard the title I thought....well I won't tell you quite what I thought, but it had the word pretentious in it. I was wrong, the actual workshop consisted of taking some fans that had never performed a preshow, teaching them one in less than an hour and then letting them perform it with the organised preshows. Brilliant Marty, a great idea for every convention, wish we'd thought of it for the Transylvania events.

We had a couple of great preshows from the Forks and Less Vunerable, a virgin sacrifice that involved plastic sheets and marshmallows, and a great shadow cast screening with performers from Dr Scotts Extra Forks, Less Venerable and Lips Inc as well as a few of us old timers from what was Lip Service and the original Charming Underclothes (yes Stephanie and I can still fit in the Space Suits).

The Saturday night was rounded off very nicely by a party complete with DJ (flown down from Manchester no less, as the main line trains were all suspended that day), this was a great way to end the day and there are various reports of some very late drinkies. Davy managed seven am before he decided to try and sleep. Stephanie and I missed a lot of the party as lust overtook us once again.

After a nice 'eat all you like' and some did, breakfast (included in the accommodation price) Sunday started around 11am with more guest forums and more costume competitions. Autographmania also did some photoshoots where people were able to pay for some decent sized photographs with the guests that were printed with logos added within the hour. One comment we got as feedback was about Autographmania not using a background and choosing to use a stair well for the shots instead. This one I have to reply to as photography is what I do. I thought their choice of background was inspired. The stair area, apart from being very wide, had some excellent designer lighting strips that looked not at all out of place in Franks lab. I watched them take down their original background they had assembled in favour of the new area and having seen the end results I think they made the right choice.

We left the event around five thirty pm just after the closing speech from Simon and headed back to sunny (well dark by the time we got here) Kent. Overall we had a good time, it was nice to see so many Rocky fans and friends gathered together to enjoy a weekend event. There was plenty of time to chill out and chat as well as enjoying the organised event. Of course the event could have been better, they always can. From all the feedback the main thing people want in future is better communication from Autographmania, as Rocky fans appreciate being kept right up to date of what is planned and what is happening on the day. A few people said they did not want to attend another event, but the great majority that wrote in said they would like to go to another Dammit Janet.

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