Friday, July 8, 2011

Gencon’s Past: The Milwaukee Years Part 1: Hotels

My first decade of GenCon took place in Milwaukee of course. Sad to say, many of the events of those years run together and I find it impossible to separate them chronologically. So I grouped them in a few key topics. My first is on hotels, which is probably not a good choice for the first one since it really doesn't have to do the convention itself, but here it is anyways...

The Milwaukee Years Part 1: Hotels
I don’t know all the reasons GenCon moved from Milwaukee to Indianapolis, but on top of the list was hotels. In Milwaukee, the hotel situation was a mess and with the exception of a handful of hotels, many were not in walking distance of the convention buildings.

Worse was the way GenCon handled hotels. Keep in mind, during these years, the Internet was just getting started. So there was no online registering or hotel reserving for GenCon. Everything was done by mail. You’d send in your money and rank a list of hotels in order of preference. A few months later you’d get the info back and see where the chips fell. In most cases, the results were disappointing. Often, we would be stuck in a hotel that either required driving or shuttling to the convention, which was a real drag. It seems that most of the hotels within walking distance went to exhibitioners and other VIPs. Makes sense I suppose, but still sucked.

Unfortunately when we had to drive on Thursday and Friday, the commute also included the horrendous smell of the breweries. It was Milwaukee after all. This was extra hard after we reach drinking age and needless to say, would have a few cocktails the night before.

Two housing experiences came to mind while I was recalling Milwaukee GenCons.

Marquette University Dorms
One year, apparently when attendance was peaking, we drew the shortest of housing straws, and placed in the dorms of Marquette University. This would have sucked for a number of reasons in any given year. The dorms had no bathrooms, had single beds, and we were on the 20th floor, but more importantly, it had no air conditioning. That year it was a scorching summer. I happened to bring a small fan that year, but there was 5 of us spread out in 2 rooms. So we’d play a game each night for the prize of the fan. If you didn’t win, you would literally be soaked with sweat by the morning. Also, did I mention that the dorms cost more than the average hotel room for some reason? Yeah, that was pretty sweet.

The Ambassador
The Ambassador Hotel is actually an historic landmark. It was a place out of time. When you entered, it was if you traveled to the 1920s (or 50s I suppose). It had a nice Cthulhu vibe and the rooms were pretty nice. But the thing was, it was in a horrible part of town. We didn’t mind much because it was an endless source of late night entertainment. While we where enjoying our boardgames, we could see drug dealers and the occasional prostitute work the street below. On the final night, we got to witness a serious street fight, which I can only assume was a rival of the dealers. Not that I actually asked them mind you. Ah the Ambassador ….

1 comment:

  1. It's very hard to deal with such transactions before, considering the fact that the internet is just starting. There may be other alternatives, but it's still not easy.

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