Anime convention organisers know that one of the most important things for making a good con is a good bar.  The Bar gives a place for people to drink and to relax, as well as a place to host evening activities and parties.  Alcon's organisers are no exception, and they didn't let the closure of the bar they used last year faze them at all.

In fact it worked pretty much in their favour, as they hired the bigger and better equipped Quay Bar.  The bar has probably the best location of any convention bar we have drank in, as it was right next door to the business centre that was hosting the main convention activities and panels.  The bar was spacious and open plan, with a large stairway leading to a balcony level that overlooked the room.  It was also open all day, and served a cut-price bar menu and surprisingly cheap drinks, leaving us plenty of money to spend in the dealers room!

The Quay Bar

 The Alcon Committee had hired the bar for the entire weekend, and used it to host several events in the evening.  Largely during the day it acted as a chillout room, with anime music videos playing on the numerous TV screens, plenty of tables and a free Dance Dance Revolution machine set up on one of the big projector screens.  There was the occasional activity or event scattered here and there as well, such as live podcasts, the con's opening and closing ceremonies, DDR competitions & tournaments and the Cosplay Masquerade.  The evening was when it came alive though as it hosted the nightly parties, Alcon pub quiz and anime theme / J-Pop Karaoke.

The best thing about the bar was its location.  As previously mentioned it was right next door to De Montefort University's Business Centre, which hosted the majority of the convention activities, but crucially it was less than 5 mins walk from either of the con's two accommodation blocks.  This meant that people were dropping in all of the time, or going there to fill gaps in their schedules.  The closeness of the accommodation took away a large part of the hassle involved with cosplayers changing for the parties as they could pop back and forth as they pleased.  This really did make the bar the social hub of the con, and the doormen were far more discreet and relaxed than those at Amecon earlier this year.

As with any convention, the bar's main purpose is to host the traditional parties in the evening.  Each night hosted a different party, with the Friday hosting the Anime Music Video party, Saturday the main party and Sunday the anime karaoke.  The parties didn't go an as late as the ones at Amecon, generally ending around midnight, but were a great laugh.  The impressive collection of cheesy tunes and a willingness to accept requests meant that the dance floor was full pretty much from the start of the night to the end.  The music on offer ranged from anime theme tunes and J-Pop to proper party favourites like Europe, Men at Work and Kiss!  The parties we attended at Alcon certainly got the Animetion seal of approval, and things were helped by the excellent drink prices, most of which were below the

  2.50 mark.  The only thing that was a bit odd was that the prices varied a bit throughout the day.  The price of a pint of Fosters for example was 2.28 most of the time, but 2.30, 2.80 and 1.70 at others.  They were still far better value than you'd get on a normal night out downtown though, and in fairness the bar staff probably didn't know what hit them when confronted with ninjas, Soul Reapers, pirates and exorcists!  However, they certainly deserve credit.  It's easy for someone to turn their nose up at anime fans, particularly when they're cosplaying, but the bar staff remained professional and courteous throughout the event, which certainly impressed us.

the bar!

This courtesy and acceptance was pretty much the theme at Alcon, and was one of the things that made it such a friendly and enjoyable event.  Several other well received events were held in bar and were run pretty well and without many undue delays.  The facilities in the bar were good, as was the PA system, which was used to good effect for the Cosplay Masquerade (more on this on page 2!), opening and closing ceremonies and the Alcon Pub Quiz.  The quiz was general knowledge with a single anime and manga round, and had an interesting innovation in the Batman and Joker system.  Whist many pub quizzes give you a Joker which will double the points you earn on the round it is played, the Alcon quiz had a Batman card that doubled the points, and a Joker that would halve your points on the round it was played.  Both had to be played, so it introduced a level of tactics to proceedings as you had to decide when to play them to maximise your points.  Team Animetion, which included the three of us along with friends including staff from technology website eMagi, couldn't overhaul last year's winners Team Giant Robot but came in 2nd place overall - not bad for our first Alcon quiz!

The Quay Bar made for a great venue that really added something to Alcon.  Our only comment would be about the food, which seemed to only be served in the afternoon and stopped serving relatively early.  The bar could have made a killing if it had done a breakfast menu, as there wasn't really anywhere that close by that did one.  The Committee mentioned at their panel that they had to change to the Quay Bar late on during the planning for the event, so didn't have a lot of time to asses the facilities and how best to use them.  However, we think they did a pretty good job, and understand that ambitious plans for the bar are already in hand for next year.

However, there's one thing we have yet to talk about that the bar hosted, and that's the Cosplay Masquerade...