I am way too tired to do a proper trip report, but I will make a stab at some of the highlights anyway.
Conflation is the St. Louis relaxicon, very similar in feel to Contra: essentially a large party for sf&f fans. Conflation had a little more programming, but not a lot. I have been vaguely thinking "I should go to that" for the last several years, ever since bradhicks mentioned it; I finally went this year because my local friend Corwyn (who runs Contra) was going. I took Friday off, rented a car (a task massively complicated by the fact that I lost my credit card sometime since last Sunday and failed to notice until I arrived at the rental car place, but this hurdle was eventually surmounted), picked Corwyn up around 1:30, and we headed out.
Weather-wise, we timed this trip perfectly: the roads had been cleared of Thursday's snow by the time we set out, and the next snowfall was not predicted until Sunday night/Monday, by which time we'd be back. Yay!
We arrived at Conflation just in time for opening ceremonies and crashed it because registration had closed for opening ceremonies. Opening ceremonies included not only the conchair but the hotel manager officially not noticing con attendees bringing drinks into the ballroom, which amused me. (As with many hotels, the policy is that the hotel caterers have a monopoly on providing food and drink in the conference rooms, so conference organizers are not technically supposed to supply their own in those areas).
After opening ceremonies, I went back to our room to put on my pirate costume. Conflation, now that I think about it, was not big on photography -- I saw few people taking pictures, and I can only recall one person asking for mine. After that, I went down to their fashion show. The fashion show was not what I'd expected; I'd assumed it would be some sort of masquerade/costuming event. It was actually a clothing auction/fundraiser for the con. Volunteers would model donated clothing (usually not their own), and attendees would bid on it. A common feature was for people to bid on clothing to give it to the model, in cases where the model liked it. Much of the clothing was formal wear. I bought a gorgeous green dress, which is a bit too large for me -- I need to get one of those clip things for it that you use to cinch the back of a dress. Does anyone remember what those things are called? I can't recall. The second half of the fashion show had people bidding not just on the clothing, but also on the right to take it off the model (with a few exceptions as specified by the model). It was amusing. If I'd known what it was going to be like at the start, I'd've volunteered to model.
Conflation's Vaudeville show was on Friday night; apparently they have not always done a Vaudeville show and stole the idea from Contra. Corwyn and I were bemused to learn that they were self-conscious about 'stealing Contra's schtick', whereas we were all like "What? Why wouldn't you? Y'know we came here to loot your ideas, right?" In the event, Conflation's show came across very differently from Contra's. Contra's Vaudeville has always been a kind of 'no-talent' show, encouraging anyone and everyone to perform. Conflation's had a much more polished and professional feel, particularly since it was anchored by the Thunder Kittens, a local burlesque troupe. My favorite act was a burlesque by AJ to "Roll a D6" (link to song, not performance) which is a very catchy electronica tune; AJ's props and performance suited it perfectly: gorgeous, sexy, and humorous.
I think the burlesque strip-tease acts suffered a little from having a lot of them back-to-back -- the performances were all skillful and enjoyable, but it got a little monotonous. More non-strip acts would have helped keep the strip-tease acts fresh, or perhaps more multiple-person acts, like the final one. Corwyn also pointed out that putting the "Roll a D6" act early in the show may have been a tactical error: she was a really tough act to follow. The final act -- six women and one man performing to "The Six Merry Murderesses of the Cook County Jail: Cell Block Tango" (from "Chicago" -- link to song, not performance) was impressive and riveting, however. Some of the other acts that stood out in my mind were a man and woman doing a silent-movie style slapstick act, complete with sound effects from a third party manning a microphone to one side of the stage -- very well-choreographed. And a cabaret-style singer, Siren, who did two songs, both fantastic.
After Vaudeville, I changed outfits again to do the room party circuit. I went to bed relatively early (for a relaxicon) on Friday night, around 2:30 or 3AM.
And hopefully tomorrow I can write up Saturday. For now, I am going back to bed. z_z