SF Ball 21

On Saturday we packed up ready for the SF Ball in it’s new home at the Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton. Carole had to work so I took Sarah, our Trekkie In Training, along.

Because of new baby, we couldn’t stay along as we wanted (like, all weekend!) so this review isn’t as thorough as we’d like however we wanted to make an effort and see what we could of the Ball after hearing so much praise.

We have been to all sorts of conventions, some are massive signing events, some are like a small gathering of friends, others are like drunken nights at Quarks. From what we saw of the SF Ball, it is a mixture of everything.

The venue worked very well. If we’re completely honest, the previous venue had put us off on previous years. We love hotel events, they foster a sense of community. It’s like being on a school trip with all your friends. But as we get older and fussier, we need our creature comforts so the Grand Harbour (formally a De Vere hotel) appeals to us. As Dax said “I want staff to cater to our every whim. I want to be embarrassed by the size of our room. I want a balcony, with a view that would make you want to break down and cry from the sheer beauty of it all.” … well it was Southampton so there was a view of that cargo ship that listed!

The crew of the USS Rikers Beard had done a fab job of theming the Hotel with props in the style of the Enterprise D. We didn’t find Captain Dillon, but he did fine job creating the sets. Especially the transporter.

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The hotel staff went out of their way to help guests feel welcome by wearing Starfleet costumes of their own. No red shirts though, it’s customer service after all, too risky!

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The main auditorium was much bigger than we had expected and a lot more professional than we’d anticipated too. The SF Ball had been sold to us a ‘fan-led’ event, which can conjure up an image of amateur. This is far from it! Being in it’s 21st year it has obviously gone from strength to strength each year.

The dealers rooms had a variety of traders with games and steampunk proving very popular. If we had more time we would have liked to try out Attack Wing, which was available to try.

In the afternoon we sat in the Robert Duncan McNeill and Manu Intiraymi Voyager Talk. Considering they didn’t have many scenes together in Voyager, they worked well together on the stage.

Our favourite story was how the guys on Voyager liked to drop ‘gaseous anomalies’ because fart humour is just the funniest! They also laid down some beat boxing (no idea if we’re using those terms correctly! #GeekProblems).

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We were then very lucky Trekkie Girls because we had the opportunity to interview them both after the talk! We shared this with Michael and Jon from the fantastic Visionary Trek. Robbie and Manu were wonderful, funny and gracious. We are always so grateful for how generous the guests and organisers are for allowing us this time with our favourite Stars. As always we have lots of sensible questions we intended to ask, such as their current projects, about the event they are attending. But we just descended into our usual waffle and chit chat!

We’ll upload the video interview shortly.

One thing we noticed that was quite different from other events was the way autographs are organised. A set time was allocated in the afternoon for which you could get your autographs. So between 16:00 – 18:00, the guests were all moved to a signing area and you’d go along and get your signatures then. As we didn’t get any autographs, we don’t have any strong opinion on this but it seems to work well for SF Ball. We suppose there are no clashes at least!

We are definitely sold on attending all weekend next year. Even though we don’t live that far away, we are going to stay over as there’s nothing like immersing yourself in the experience. Often with conventions, we find ourselves running around, and hard at work gathering as much information as possible so we can blog about it. But one of our favourite elements about a convention is switching off from ‘Real Life’.

This was the first time I’d (Sam) properly been away from my baby since he was born five months ago and it was the first time I felt more like ‘me’, sitting in the bar, catching up with our Trekkie friends and discussing everything about Star Trek with the Visionary Trek guys and sharing in Sarahs insight experiencing this as new for the first time.

So big thank you to everyone at SF Ball, especially B and Paul. Thank you to all our friends at the event who made our weekend!

Check out our gallery from the event!

Tickets to next years event are available but sell fast!

Feature Image Credit: Visionary Trek

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