Over 1000 giant animals gather in one place
June 5, 2017 3:39 PM   Subscribe

This past weekend's Reno-based Biggest Little Fur Con just wrapped up with record attendance (5138, up 40% from last year) and with a mammoth photo of over 1000 fursuiters. If you want to see more details, you can scroll around the 5K super-high resolution version.
posted by hippybear (27 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
That is such a wonderful riot of color!
posted by poe at 4:08 PM on June 5, 2017

I've never been to a furcon so I don't have any personal experience to back this up, but scrolling through that densely-packed hi-res pic I'm astounded by one thing: all of these fursuits look awesome. Are there grant programs for less well-off furries, because these all look like pro suits to my untrained eye and those can't be cheap!

It's cool to see so many creative, expressive costumes in one place, but in my head there's gotta be some folks who just can't afford the top of the line but they need be with their tribe, so they rock lumpy masks with two uneven eye holes and a long-sleeve tee with a fur pattern on it. Where are they?

[Sorry if this is coming across as Furry 101 - I'm just genuinely impressed by this image and it made me wonder.]
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 4:11 PM on June 5, 2017

This puts the post about Cyril the Swan in a whole new light.
posted by The otter lady at 4:47 PM on June 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

loving the Unamused Business Casual Waterfowl in the lower right corner
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:03 PM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sooooooo is the Pirate in the top right hand corner of the picture just lost?

So random
posted by Faintdreams at 5:17 PM on June 5, 2017

That's an actual dog who came dressed up in what he considered to be a fun human suit.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:20 PM on June 5, 2017 [11 favorites]

Most amateur fur suiters build their suits out piece by piece, since the suit is a series of parts. A fur suiter might start out by building just the head and and maybe some sleeves to go over the arms, then work on furthering and completing their costume with details like the paws, tail and so on.
posted by ottergrrl at 5:28 PM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

+1 for cardboard box person!
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:35 PM on June 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

This is amazing.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:44 PM on June 5, 2017

cardboard box person
AKA Douglas Firry
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:40 PM on June 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's cool to see so many creative, expressive costumes in one place, but in my head there's gotta be some folks who just can't afford the top of the line but they need be with their tribe, so they rock lumpy masks with two uneven eye holes and a long-sleeve tee with a fur pattern on it. Where are they?

It's by no means a requirement to have a fursuit to be in the fandom. Lots of people are in it for art, music, camaraderie, and just for sharing interests generally. No matter how you slice it, they're expensive, even if you make them yourself.

For those that do suit, there's a pretty wide variety of complexity as well; often the fursuit photo only features relatively complete costumes, but there are plenty of furries who have just ears, or just a tail, or wear a kigurumi. There are also definitely furs that make their own suits (and you'll definitely see some first attempts and older fursuits that look as you describe), but I've found that they tend to iterate on their art and learn from each other, so a suit that looks amateurish at the beginning will often grow more pro-looking over time. They'll often also manage complexity by doing partial suits, e.g. they'll make the head, paws and tail and wear normal clothes for the body.
posted by Aleyn at 7:14 PM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

The other thing to note is that if you're not proud of your suit you may not show up at big group photo ops like this!

And it gets easier and easier to build a suit; there was a vendor whose huge stall is nothing but parts. Blank unfinished head bases. Moving jaws. Horns. Ears. Spikes. Claws. All the little bits you used to have to cast yourself.

This year's BLFC was great. I spent most of it in a private room party full of the sparkle breath, as a vacation from my usual spot behind a table. When I ventured out, all my dealer friends were happily making money, my other friends were getting laid and/or dancing their asses off - I hear one night's rave went to 7am - and generally having a great time. BLFC has a great vibe.

It's also getting bigger. Don't go. I don't want it to turn into a huge thing corporate entities are interested in. It's already uncomfortably close to this.
posted by egypturnash at 7:19 PM on June 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I was at the shooting for this photo (had a friend who was fursuiting and I was their handler), and the pirate likely didn't realize he was in the shot. As you might imagine, getting a photo like this together is a bit of a challenge in coordination.
posted by Aleyn at 8:13 PM on June 5, 2017

I just died of heat exhaustion thinking about this pic.

Seriously amazing craftsmanship!
posted by MissySedai at 8:22 PM on June 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

A few amazing things I've learned about BLFC:

This year, all their volunteers got 3 meal vouchers a day for every day they volunteered. The amount of the meal voucher was enough to cover a real meal, not just a snack. The con is working to feed those who volunteer to work for them. That's amazing.

All vendors were given one meal voucher a day, although the burden of getting into the available table line and get back to their table is a bit of a concern. Still, the con is feeding their vendors. Anyone seen that before?

The con had arranged with a casino resort which has 11 restaurants on-location to provide discount meal buffets to the attendees. Never seen that previously.

I mean, food is a huge fucking deal for most cons. Califur in LA for YEARS hasn't had affordable food easy to get to without a car, and that's not a recent problem not even solved with their change of venue.
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Back in the day of indie comics and single owner comic book conventions, (rather than corporations and corporate sponsors), I ran a pro-suite for a convention. And our pro suite was always stocked with booze and food and very friendly staff. And while I'll admit, I spent more on the budget for the pro suite where Stan Lee and Alan Moore were going to be hanging out, we always made sure we also had a suite for the convention staff to get snacks, sandwiches, cokes, etc. (No booze, as many volunteers were well below drinking age, and the hotels get cranky about drunk 14 year olds. Ask me how I know.) This was back in the late 80s, and to the best of my knowledge, we were the only show on the circuit back then that treated the pros like rockstars behind the scenes. To this day, some of my prize-est possessions are sketches from people like Sergio Aragones, who did Groo doing Oliver Twist asking for more lasagna. And Neil Gaiman wrote a poem about my cupcakes. It's no Dali Lama, but I've got that going for me.

But as generous as the owner was about treating the staff well, and treating the pros like rockstars, I've never, in the 30 years I've been either organizing or attending conventions around the world, heard of a con that feeds their vendors. That's amazing. And three meal vouchers, for restaurants, for staff? That's also unheard of in American conventions.

That's a show owner who is really dedicated to her/his fanbase audience, and I really applaud anyone who can make that work while still preserving enough margin to throw the next show. If the vibe of the show is anything like the consideration shown for those working it, it has to be one of the best shows anywhere for that community.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:44 PM on June 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, those suits are amazing. I cannot even imagine the dedication it would require to make one. Box Dog and Balloon Rabbit made me laugh out loud. But the whole shot, with so many different, gorgeous costumes...outstanding.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:51 PM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

FWIW a growing number of non-corporate cons (furry or comic) I've tabled lately are sending volunteers around to go pick up food for you, and occasionally providing some food - pizza during setup, for instance. Actively giving everyone a lunch voucher is pretty next level though, and pretty much the opposite of the corporate cons that demand you have your space manned for the entire duration of four 10h days.
posted by egypturnash at 12:33 AM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Canids always seem to predominate, though it might be me using 'canid' as a mental default.
posted by Segundus at 12:47 AM on June 6, 2017

I've never, in the 30 years I've been either organizing or attending conventions around the world, heard of a con that feeds their vendors. That's amazing. And three meal vouchers, for restaurants, for staff? That's also unheard of in American conventions.

I have a thing where I go to the Dealers' Den on Sunday for one final shopping trip and I make a point to spend time in conversation with the dealers asking how the con has been for them. Several of them volunteered to me the information about the meal vouchers. They seemed to be amazed.

I know about the volunteer meal tickets because I had a volunteer as one of my roommates and she was making a point to make sure she spent all her meal vouchers.

Also, I found this out during check-out, volunteers got a $60/day room discount for staying at the host hotel.
posted by hippybear at 3:38 AM on June 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have a kid (20yrs) that wants to go to a Furry con. One of our concerns is that it's little more than a BIG opportunity to spend money and/or feel out-classed by those with the fancy suits. He's terrible at controlling his spending.
posted by Goofyy at 3:53 AM on June 6, 2017

So, yeah, it can be a giant shopping trip (I bought nothing more than food and booze this year, I've purchased books, shirts, and artwork at past conventions), but, that's not what being at a furry convention is about.

Going to a furry convention means spending several days in a hotel hanging out with other furries. What do I do with most of my time at a furcon? I wander around and have conversations with people who turn out to be friends I have never met before.

It's hard to express this well, because it's sort of a communal emotional state of mind, but every furcon I've been to has been a space full of people that are entirely open to self expression and is filled with a willingness to allow everyone to feel like they are someone who is worthy. It's a space where even the most socially awkward feel safe in talking to strangers. It's a space for genderqueer people to express themselves in WHATEVER way they wish and have people not give them side-eye. Sure, the suiters are amazing and I love the giant animals, but BLFC had over 5000 attendees only about 1/5 of whom had fursuits.

I don't know your kid, but there's a whole lot more going on at a furcon than just the Dealers' Den, and it's possible that is what they are looking for more than the shopping.
posted by hippybear at 4:12 AM on June 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I keep expecting to see Jack Nicholson at the bottom center.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Much credit to the photographer -- I can't even get a shot of five people without at least one of them blinking.
posted by hypersloth at 8:29 AM on June 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Given that fursuits cost upwards of $1000 (that's towards the low end, a full suit can cost 3k or more), that's a photo of over a million dollars of handmade craftsmanship, money that went directly to the artists involved. I've tried to think of another subculture which supports artists this heavily and I'm coming up blank.

Furries are awesome.
posted by Feyala at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

May I suggest, for those that are furry curious, that you consider reading Omaha the Cat Dancer. It was a comic series done primarily by auntie Kate Worley and Reed Waller. (Not actually related, I just got adopted into one of the greatest families of all time.) Auntie Kate passed away in 2004, but I believe the stories have held up well.

There's a long history between Omaha, it's creators, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and Kitchen Sink's dedication to printing non-mainstream comics for grown ups. Everyone, really...everyone who touched Omaha was a really great person, and I learned so much from them about what it means to be open minded, and open hearted. So, I recommend reading Omaha, furry or no, but I believe it resonates particularly well with that community.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:24 PM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Great photo!

I'm sure some of those costumes are $3k plus, but it's also pretty amazing how creative people can get with $30.00 of fabric from Jo-Ann's, thrift store items, and hot glue and coat hangers.

I'm not a furry person, but I do love costumes and dressing up. I'd be a horse in a heartbeat!

People who come with balloons, or a cardboard box, and a fantastic attitude probably have a better time than a few of the folks that laid out big bucks for professionally made costumes. (although, if you're doing a furry con, I would imagine 99.9% of them are just plain fun to be with.)
posted by BlueHorse at 8:08 PM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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