Everyone deserves a chance to be nerdy – that’s the ethos behind BlerdCon. Spaces for nerds can be surprisingly exclusionary, despite the wide range of people who participate in the fandom.
And that needs to change.
BlerdCon (a portmanteau of “black” and “nerd”) aims to be one of the places doing the changing. This con is aimed at comic enthusiasts from all walks of life, but specifically black nerds.
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling left out of fandom spaces, then BlerdCon might be the event for you.
An exciting celebration of comic books and black excellence, BlerdCon is at the forefront of inclusive fandoms. As well as this – it’s a really fun event.
If you’re interested in attending one of the most welcoming cons around, then this guide has everything you need to know about BlerdCon.
Buying your ticket/badge
Tickets for BlerdCon are available online from the BlerdCon website. Tickets are released in advance of the con, and we recommend purchasing them early.
BlerdCon isn’t the biggest event around, but it is pretty unique. It’s one of the few comic cons that’s designed specifically to celebrate black excellence in the world of nerd culture.
Because of this, tickets can be in high demand. We recommend getting in there fast.
BlerdCon is a pretty big event, but that isn’t matched in the price tag. In fact, tickets providing entry for the entire weekend are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the price for other cons.
And you can really see in the quality of the event exactly where your money is going.
Most of the programming at BlerdCon is included in the price, with very few exceptions. The maid café, for example, is not covered by the original ticket price.
If you do want to attend the maid café, then you have to pay a little extra for the special experience.
What to bring to BlerdCon
Money, phone, and a charger are the 3 essentials for any con. Money goes without saying – BlerdCon is full of tables selling lots of amazing merchandise. Take a mixture of cash and card, to be sure you can pay wherever you go.
A phone is a necessity, and bringing a charger or charging pack is always a good idea. In the long and busy days of a con, it’s easy to lose track of what level your battery is at. A charger ensures you won’t get stuck with a dead phone.
Although a phone will do most of the work for you, a cosplay enthusiast may want to bring a camera. Just remember to always ask before taking a photo.
Most will be more than happy to pose, but there are all kinds of reasons why someone won’t want a photo at that moment. Treat people with the courtesy you expect to see in return.
If you’re coming in cosplay, then it’s always worth bringing anything that might be needed for fixing your costume.
Safety pins, a small sewing kit, and a roll of tape can be the difference between an awesome day and a ruined con. This will also make you a savior in many people’s eyes.
Costumes that were perfect in the safety of your hotel room are much more liable to break when you’re surrounded by the crowds of a con.
BlerdCon does have some amazing food trucks available, but it’s worth tucking a water bottle and some snacks into your bag.
It’s important to fuel yourself for a long day walking around a con, but we don’t always want to stop to eat. Some trail mix in your pocket lets you power up and continue you on with your con.
A backpack is pretty much an essential for a con, because of all the purchases you’re probably going to make. There are so many talented creators at BlerdCon, walking away empty-handed is uncommon.
A backpack, stuffed with a few lightweight plastic bags, allows you to buy as much as you like.
What to wear to BlerdCon
Cosplay is huge at BlerdCon. It’s designed to be an inclusive space, a place where all visitors feel comfortable expressing themselves. Because of this, people choose to take advantage of the opportunity to cosplay.
If you’ve always wanted to cosplay, but have never felt able to commit, then this is your time to shine. All the attendees are friendly and welcoming, and will appreciate the effort and enthusiasm of your cosplay.
If you aren’t interested in cosplay, then wear something that will be comfortable across a long day. Perhaps most importantly, have good footwear.
Your shoes need to support you across many hours of walking around, standing around, and waiting in line.
BlerdCon also has evening events, so you may want to wear something that allows you to party. Otherwise, bring a quick change of clothes. The parties are amazing, and you don’t want to miss out on attending.
Many attendees use BlerdCon to show the power of makeup. If you don’t want to wear a costume, it doesn’t mean you have to dress basic.
Use your makeup to create a bold and vibrant look, and make yourself stand out in a way that’s slightly easier to deal with in a crowd than a full cosplay.
Easy BlerdCon costume ideas
For women, there’s one incredibly easy choice: Storm. She may be an obvious cosplay, but sometimes the classics are classics for a reason.
A white wig and an all black outfit is all you really need for a decent Storm costume, but there’s also room to add your own personality.
One of Storm’s most iconic features is her glowing eyes, so this is a great opportunity to show what you can do with your makeup.
For male cosplayers, there’s another equally obvious choice: Nick Fury. An eye patch and a trench coat are easy to pull together, and then the rest of the costume is all about attitude.
Another good cosplay if you want to put in some effort, but still feel comfortable, is Sailor Moon. This is particularly good for anyone going in a group, because you can all dress as your favorite sailor (Mars, obviously).
Costuming is a real opportunity to explore your interests. If you’ve never done cosplay before, then think of a character you admire, or a childhood design that caught your eye.
Even complicated costumes can be made easy with a bit of imagination (and some luck with online shopping).
Can you go to BlerdCon without a costume?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to go to BlerdCon without a costume. Although cosplay is a huge part of the event, the main focus is in celebrating a diverse nerd culture. If you don’t want to go in costume, then no one will judge you.
What to do when nobody gets your cosplay
The crowd at BlerdCon are friendly and excitable, and will want to learn about your cosplay even if they don’t understand it. If no one gets your cosplay, then just explain it to them.
At BlerdCon you should find yourself surrounded by similar minded fans, and you’ll probably get caught up in lots of conversations. If you have a cosplay that’s not immediately obvious, then it might be the perfect icebreaker.
Cosplay isn’t just about showing your favorite character – it’s a chance to express something of yourself. If you have a fun and unusual twist on a character, then don’t be afraid to do something different, even if no one gets it.
A cosplay that no one gets is not exactly unusual – in a crowd of thousands, you’re sure to see more than a few costumes that you don’t understand.
Guide to BlerdCon lines and crowds
BlerdCon is a popular event, so be prepared for queues and crowds. When you arrive for first registration, you’re likely to find yourself stuck in a bit of a wait.
Everyone wants to have as much time as possible at the con, so everyone turns up early.
Inside the convention center, there will be several thousand people. Admittedly, this is smaller than most cons – a massive 130,000 people have attended SDCC in the past.
But still, it’s quite a number. Don’t be surprised if you have to hang around a bit before you can get to the really popular tables.
Luckily, the atmosphere is really supportive, which means being stuck in those crowds isn’t a problem.
There’s an incredible community vibe to BlerdCon, and waiting in a line is an opportunity to connect with people who have similar interests.
BlerdCon is a smaller con, but there’s a fantastic focus on creating a high-quality experience. It doesn’t feel small, it just feels well-designed. The community atmosphere is much larger than the attendance number.
Getting your comics signed
Guests at BlerdCon are often cosplayers rather than actors or writers/illustrators, so the hunt for autographs is much less intense. You probably won’t need to pay for a signature from anyone who catches your eye.
If you see someone you want an autograph from, ask politely, and they’ll probably say yes.
It’s always worth taking an autograph book or notebook and pen to a con, even if there aren’t any big name guests on the schedule.
That way, if you bump into anyone who you might look up to, you have everything on hand for a quick autograph. The rest of the time, you can make notes about the interesting tables and people to look up when you get home.
How much money do you need?
The tickets for BlerdCon include almost everything that’s happening inside, so you won’t need to spend much extra to enjoy it.
Other large cons have specific events that require a separate entry fee, but once you’ve paid for the BlerdCon ticket, there’s no additional costs. This means all the money you bring is only for things you want to buy.
Great news for those who are good at keeping a budget, terrible news for those who struggle to hold back.
Trying to decide how much money to take to a con is always an impossible prospect, but we recommend taking more than you think you need.
If you have to stick to a budget, then space out your purchases, be sure to look around before buying, and track what you’ve spent.
BlerdCon has some mouthwatering cuisine on offer from incredible food trucks. Always factor in the general day-to-day costs when planning for a con – that means taking a decent amount of money for food.
A con is a long and active day, so you’re going to need to eat. And when the food smells this good, you’re going to want to eat a lot.
If you’re attending the entire weekend, we recommend taking at least a couple of hundred dollars. It’s enough to keep you fed and watered, with money leftover for some killer purchases.
Don’t forget to bargain
Small and local creators find a chance to display their work at BlerdCon, and some of them will be happy to bargain. One of the best ways to get a bargain is to bundle items together – making 2 or more purchases to get a bulk discount.
If you spot a table that’s loaded with good things, then it’s worth asking if you can strike a deal. Be sure to remain respectful, and don’t try and get too lucky with the price.
People work long hours creating art, and they deserve to be paid fairly.
Generally, the best time to find a bargain is at the end of a con. This is when the creators have to decide between cutting the prices or carrying merch back home with them.
When you’re debating whether to buy, it’s sometimes worth waiting and seeing if the prices start to drop.
Remember, some tables will have set prices, and won’t appreciate even your very best haggling. If someone seems unwilling to budge, then be respectful. Either pay the full price, or look for something you can afford.
Other tips for BlerdCon-goers
Check out what events and panels are happening before you go, and make sure to schedule them in. BlerdCon has some amazing events that you definitely don’t want to miss. Concerts, comedy, and gaming all have a place at BlerdCon.
Don’t forget to head to a couple of panels as well! They can lead to some lively and enthusiastic discussion (and they’re a great way to rest your feet).
There has been some controversy in past years over white entrants winning the cosplay contest. Although there is no limit on who is allowed to enter (currently), it’s worth remembering that this is a con specifically designed for black nerds – it’s in the name.
White people should take a moment to step back and recognize when a space is not for them. There are plenty of other cosplay contests to enter.
That said, non-black attendees are welcome, and they should take the opportunity to appreciate and financially support the displays of black excellence around them.
What’s important is ensuring that this space, specifically designed as a safe space for black comic fans, doesn’t get taken over by white fans.
BlerdCon is designed to be an inclusive space. Disrespectful behavior won’t be tolerated, and the organizers won’t hesitate to kick you out.
The con takes place in a hotel: The Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport.
This is the absolute best place to stay if you want to attend BlerdCon, because you can head straight from your room to the con, without ever leaving the hotel.
The Hyatt normally offers discounted rates to those going to BlerdCon, making it a good deal as well.
If you can’t get a room at the Hyatt, there are some other hotels nearby, including some big chains. The Holiday Inn, and the Marriott are both good options that are close to the convention.
BlerdCon takes place right next to the Reagan National Airport, so there are plenty of hotels in the surrounding area.
Car rental nearby
With the airport so close, there’s no issue finding car rental near the con. Enterprise, Budget Car Rental, Avis, and Alamo are all nearby, and all offer a range of well-priced rental cars.
If you’re flying into the Reagan National Airport, you should have no trouble finding a car to rent on site.
Parking at the event
Parking is available at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City hotel, so you can park on site. Be aware that parking can be at a premium, and spaces are limited.
Public transport to the event
Public transport to the convention is pretty good, with several options available. Part of this is because of the location right by the Reagan National Airport.
If you’re flying in, you can catch a shuttle from the airport, straight to the convention.
The Metro and the bus line both have routes that drop you off close to the hotel. Otherwise, taxis pass through regularly, and there’s even public bicycles that you can pay to use.