Guys, we need to talk about PotterCon. Because, yes. PotterCon is a thing, therefore we need to talk about it. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan, PotterCon is the annual 21+ event of our dreams.
PotterCon began, as these things do, in a bar between friends. After the first year, it moved to The Bell House in Brooklyn, where it was opened up to the public, and it lived for 2014 and 2015. But 2016 saw it graduate to Irving Plaza, and, after selling out the one-day event in less than a week, expanded to two days which then also quickly sold out.
So, what IS PotterCon, exactly? As a third year, (I’m not cool enough to have been invited to the now notorious First-Year-At-A-Bar-With-Friends event—though I think they would have invited me if they had gotten to know me) I can give you a play-by-play.
Waiting in Line
Oh, hey, look, that’s me, and my best friend Ricky. Hi, Ricky! Here we are waiting on line outside Irving Plaza. It was very hot, but we weren’t in costume–though I had my Deathly Hallows necklace and “The Book Was Better” t-shirt. Waiting with other Hogwarts students, anticipation was high, and the heat was forgotten about. Also, as we later found out, the Ravenclaw Prefect (of course) made this sweet Snapchat filter, and we had my Instax Mini to play with. The feel amongst the crowd: midnight release party (Deathly Hallows, not Cursed Child).
After the most intense backpack search of my life (yes, I really DO need fifty-seven hair ties thank you very much), we were welcomed into the space by the soft melodic tunes of Harry and the Potters. The event had the same set-up as previous years: merch tables (one for clothes, one for jewlery), Colin Creevey’s Camera Corner (a photobooth with backdrop and a few props), the Goblet of Fire (enter your name, and if chosen you’ll get sorted!), the House Cup (earn tickets for everything you do to add points for your house. Steal points from other houses by covertly finding out their common room password), Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions Costume Contest, and, of course, many many bars. At the front of the room was a stage, which had a large screen displaying stills from the movies and photos from PotterCons past.
The Sorting Ceremony
By far, the best part of PotterCon is always the Sorting Ceremony and that’s due in no small part to its host, Alise Morales. A Brooklyn-based comedian, writer, and Slytherin, Morales’s Sorting Ceremony is something Fred and George Weasley would give a sweeping bow to. She always starts her bit with a few jokes, this year focused on Ilvermorny and Cursed Child (“Come on, Jo, why raise more questions with a sequel when you haven’t answered the questions we’ve been asking for years? Namely: How is it possible the most important person in Viktor Krum’s life was a girl he met five days ago and talked to twice? What is going on in that kid’s life? Also, much more importantly, exactly how hot was Sirius when he was in high school?”). Alise, as a Ravenclaw I don’t say this lightly, but: two billion points for Slytherin for your excellent performance year after year.
Now that I’ve successfully expressed the extent of my crush on Alise, we can move on to the actual sorting. Upon admission to Hogwarts, students enter their names into the Goblet of Fire, which is brought onto the stage for the Sorting Ceremony. If a student’s name is chosen he or she is brought up on stage to don the Sorting Hat and answer two questions. Each student gets different questions, which range from “What is your Patronus,” to “If you could be best friends with anyone from Hogwarts and they HAD to be your best friend back, who would you choose?” (The answer to this question, which happened given by the gentleman pictured above: “Cedric Diggory. But only if we could be MORE than friends”). After hearing answers, the crowd shouts its opinion, but the ultimate decision comes down to a (fairly inebriated) Dumbledore.
Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions Costume Contest
Full disclosure, I usually leave during the costume contest to get food and then come back in time for trivia. Irving Plaza figured out my game, though, and by not allowing reentry I was forced to stay. Boy, I was glad I did. What this year’s costumes lacked in quantity it made up for in quality. The 2016 winner was the Mirror of Erised, pictured above. On the left we have PJ-wearing Ron; on the right, Quidditch-Playing-Head-Boy-Badge-Wearing-House-Cup-Winning Ron. It was creative and funny, and the mirror itself was incredibly detailed. Another billion points to Gryffindor. Runners up were a very impressive Voldemort (who, we discovered after much debate and Instagram stalking, was NOT bald in real life), and Snape, whose costume came complete with lilies.
After a very touching In Memoriam slideshow honoring all our fallen witch and wizard loved ones (including Alan Rickman and Orlando Pulse victim Luis Vielma, who worked at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), it was time for trivia. Questions ranged from “What subject did Professor Sinistra teach?” to “Name all seven magical enchantments protecting the Sorcerer’s Stone and the professor who set them. In order.”
The trickiest part of the quiz is always book, movie, or both which requires students to determine if very specific details happened in the book only, the movie only, or in both the book and the movie. Harder than you’d think! For example: Did Harry see Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder’s Map in the book, movie, or both? (Answer: the movie only! I know, I got that wrong, too. I even Googled because I was so sure it happened in the book, as well.) Still, we held our own and out of the thousand Hogwarts students present, my little team of three came in third (#ThirdOrNothing!). The first place team (pictured above) won prizes sponsored by USAopoly, including Harry Potter Clue and Monopoly.
The House Cup
And so the day concluded with the awarding of the House Cup. Slytherin took it this year, but make no mistake, Ravenclaw is overdue for a win. Perhaps next year!
All photos, except the two of Ricky and me, were taken by the official PotterCon photographer, Mark Davis. Check him out here!