By James Bacon: Brilliant Balkans!
I’m yearning for milk as I wonder what degree of burn I’ve just encountered. I’m at a Croatian party and am loving the hospitality.
Helsinki has kicked off with an incredible energy. By lunchtime Eemeli Aro was clearly pleased that they had quickly processed some 3,700 people, I am impressed, the queue system and reg worked well here. It’s been a great day, meeting friends and making new ones as I helped near the Dublin 2019 table. I am on the customer side engaging and chatting and attending meetings.
The table was mobbed as soon as the hall opened and it’s a state of hand-over-fist as the upgrades and friends inundate the table. Sanna Kellokoski the deputy treasurer of the con helps us out with additional tech support. It’s amazing to watch, the team are smooth and the atmosphere is electric. People really want an Irish Worldcon. Is it wrong that I am a bit astounded by the eagerness of fans to join?
The day flies by and a Lebanese dinner fills the gap and recharges.
I am at the Croatian and Australian bring-your-own-booze party. I have some Irish Whiskey, which isn’t available in Ireland and is possibly only for the US market, courtesy of Ian Stockdale who picked it up in Paolo Alto, I forced/begged him to get a Bevmo club card in order to save three dollars.
I’d doled it out in my room to a broad bunch of rapscallions but afterwards a division head with responsibilities heads to bed. As we bid adieu to the conscientious Ms. Secor, myself and some UK fans head down to the parties, loaded up with this sweet and mildly caramel-flavoured Irish Whiskey of dubious heritage, it’s a busy Winter Garden that greats us.
The bar downstairs in the Winter Garden is hectic, tokens have been distributed offsetting the cost of the beers and so fans are enjoying the New Zealand Party. The team are doing a sterling job but I miss me pal Norm. He’s not here and I miss him. Furniture smasher that he is.
After a while I head from there to the Croatian and Australian party with a bunch of heavy drinking beer aficianados and as we wander the route to a yellow wooden building with a sauna where a party is happening, it’s quite a beautiful night.
I bump into Kristina and Meghan from Colorado and we chat and it’s good, I’d met them earlier and they are enjoying this Worldcon.
As soon as I enter the party venue I get offered a hip flask, it contains vodka, originally a litre bottle stuffed with Carolina Reapers, a chilli pepper, I’m told it’s two million something’s, scobies, I think, surprised that a Dublin term of endearment is in use here. Nope it’s Scovilles, apparently — this makes it hot and me gob is burnt off me.
Wag who concocted this hellfire is a great sort, I met him some 23 years ago, he ran a cocktail workshop at Incon 2 the second Inconsequential entitled Inconcievable. With Tobes Valois, Jim De Liscard, Liam Proven and Anders Holstrom it feels like the gougers of British fandom have congregated here and having a great time.
While I shovel ice into me mouth following a hearty mouthful of Wag’s crazy drink, I get handed a lovely honey liquor by Olexandr Vasylkivsky from Ukraine. It’s a Croatian speciality, I cannot but wonder is warm hospitality a Croatian speciality as I drink this nice brandy honey liquor called Medica.
I then encounter Petra Bulic and soon hilarity ensues as a host of Croatian fans start volunteering one another for Dublin. I utterly fail to explain we have an online process and how our member and staff services have a superb system as they all egg each other on to commit to the hopeful Dublin 2019.
Vanja Kranjcevic is working the green room here and all look to her, but Monika Tresk, Zvonimira Ivaniševic, Petra and Marina are all in fantastic spirits laughing and yet being wonderful hosts.
They hand me a copy of a special Worldcon 2017 Parsek. (Mike I blagged one for you!) It’s of supreme quality and so impressive. I am introduced to Irena Rašeta and am handed a Pernod-type liqueur.
Shortly I find myself outside with Petra and Zvonimira, taking about Worldcons. Petra produces Maraschino, a cherry based liqueur. Wild ideas abound and as some Croatian fans lament a lack of facilities for a Worldcon others join us and contemplate a con on a cruise ship. I can’t see any down side here, and would love such an event.
The craic is ninety and it’s just great fun. Laughter and amusement abound and soon at 1 a.m. all the Croatian fans regain a sense of responsibility and clean up the venue and see us out.
It’s been a beautiful night with fabulous fans.
Jelena Saban, Monika and Zvonimira proudly display their T-shirts promoting SFERAKON, which is SFERA society – sphere – and the oldest convention in the Balkans — next year is the 40th anniversary. Petra was chair of Kontakt, the 2012 Eurocon in Zagreb and they produced a book of Croatian stories in English.
Croatian fandom is highly active and listed here the main events.
Rapscallions having a good time!
Wag and his vodka