This time last year, I was sipping back a gin caesar, my brain still going a million miles an hour, recovering from one of the greatest weekends/experiences/adventures I have ever had in my entire life. Whabammers would come together from across North America, the champagne was sabred, the maple syrup flowed, the chicken nuggets broke records, and we celebrated the launch of my first TV show… and it happened in Las Vegas, so I can’t tell you about any of it… oh, that’s not how blogs work? Nevermind then!
Let’s talk StaceyCon 2018!!!
It's hard to believe that it's only been a year since the dazzling lights of Vegas flashed in my eyes. In some ways, it feels like it was forever ago, and in other ways, like it was just yesterday. I remember when the idea first started to float through Chatland; it was more like a "wouldn't-it-be-cool-if" concept than an actual thing that was possible... I mean, who in their right mind would travel to meet (and party) with random people from the Internet, and a girl who makes nerdy cocktails from Canada?
Apparently a lot of people!
We literally ran the bar out of jello-syringes!
One of the scariest things about organizing any event, especially one at this scale, is "what if no one shows up?" or scarier: "what if EVERYONE shows up?!" It takes a tremendous amount of resources to put on something like this, and the number of attendees could make it all for naught or be not near enough to meet expectations. But, after many, many sleepless nights and long days of planning, StaceyCon started to take shape.
...I kid you not, when we signed for the suite, the manager asked: “will you be throwing any parties?”
My answer may or may not have been less than truthful.
I made a list of all the things that I would want if I were going to attend something like this, and the very first thing that popped into my mind was swag! I always look forward to getting goodies that can remind me of all the fun I had at an event, and since we almost immediately decided that Vegas would be the location of this shindig (mostly due to the fact that it’s one of the cheaper places to go that most cities fly to); the customized StaceyCon shirt was born. So, we designed several variations and eventually settled on the old-school Vegas sign design. But I knew a shirt wouldn’t be enough, so I did everything I could to jam-pack the SwagBags full of items like Whabam tattoos, glow in the dark Whabam wristbands, ketchup chips (because Canada), and even a Nerdy Bartender tumbler with RGB ice cube for everyone to use while they wandered the strip!.
When planning events, there always has to be the "main event," the thing that most people are the most excited for; in this case it was simple: we do a Nerdy Bartender Live in Vegas with Whabammers as the live audience (and also live guests). SPOILER ALERT: It was pretty much the greatest thing in the world. Ever. Better than a cold mojito on a hot day. Better than a spiked hot chocolate on Christmas morning. Better than- you get the idea. So, where does one have such a fantastic event? A board room is too dull; a hall is too impersonal, a restaurant’s bar would be impossible to close down on a Friday night… I guess that means we have to get a gorgeous executive suite at the Golden Nugget! It would have enough room for the audience, the streaming equipment, a special little bar corner (that turned out to be an echo nightmare for the microphones), and it could double as the location for the Saturday morning brunch. Despite being the most expensive hotel room I have ever been in, it was 100% worth it. Also, I kid you not, when we signed for it, the manager asked: “will you be throwing any parties in the suite?” My answer may or may not have been less than truthful.
So, Day 1 has begun, my Mods, my parents, Mike and I start to take the boxes upon boxes, suitcases upon suitcases and elevator trip after elevator trip (thank the Vegas gods for elevators, if it had been stairs, I think I would have been finished before StaceyCon even opened its doors!) of gear and supplies to the suite. But why start with Nerdy Bartender LIVE on the first night? Isn't the main event supposed to be at the end? Why not save the best for last? Well, there are a few reasons for it! Let me tell you my secrets:
Most of the people coming didn't know each other in real life, so by bringing people together to something already familiar to them was a great way to make everyone feel comfortable. Plus, we had the ever-charming (and very handsomely dressed, might I add) Clasicmac and Soleman greeting the new faces as they came through the doors, and were immediately branded with Whabam temporary tattoos. Then right on their tails were Mama and Papa Roy welcoming them and offering up food and drink in typical Roy fashion. So, right away, we have a familiar event, familiar faces, and hospitality to shake off any jitters that may have arisen.
The event sets the tone for the weekend (this was a three-day event, after all, because Vegas, obviously.) I knew that the show would be fun, and the memories and bonds that were formed that night would not only last the weekend but possibly for months and years to come! (Spoiler alert: I was right.)
Those Whabammers who couldn't be there in person would be there in Chatland. This also would help bring the community together, as they shared their experiences with the Chat. And of course, they would be able to say “Hi” on the stream itself, since everyone got to be on the show and have a part in creating the infamous “GaryGotBlended” Mudslide. So, people were able to feel like they were a part of something special (which they were!), and that makes everyone feel good.
Have you hugged your Mods today?
If I had made Nerdy Bartender last, not only would everyone have been exhausted, but we wouldn’t have had all the stories to talk about throughout the weekend. And trust me, there were stories… I can confirm that at no point was there a loose tiger in the room, though there may have been a unicorn, whatever else you heard cannot be confirmed nor denied… because Vegas. For instance, StaceyCon’ers, remember when ZeroPointProps broke the chair? When spinning for Whip Cream? What about performing Rock calls with random Blackjack tables? Ziplining over a crowded street yelling “WHABAM!”? Yeah! Vegas, baby!
But I digress. I officially started off StaceyCon with a toast to you, the Whabammers, to my parents, mods, and MikeItSo. Everything I do and have is because of you. The ability to throw an event like this, is because of you. I will forever be grateful and forever be humbled by you. Stacey Chat is Best Chat. And with that, StaceyCon had begun, and the "Start Streaming" button had been pushed! What came next was one of the greatest weekends of my life.
The show was an absolute blast! I've never done a Nerdy Bartender LIVE in front of this many people, so it was beyond exhilarating! As new subs came in, every single person in the room would shout our sub call at the top of their lungs! I was CERTAIN we would get noise complaints, but they never came! Naturally, we played the Odds vs Evens game where we split the Whabammers into two teams, and with every donation adjusting the total to an odd or even number, different alcoholic ingredients were polled by the Chatland to eventually create a shooter... or should I say shooter'S'! This was the longest row of shots I have ever seen, and because the Internet is a cruel beast- MY team, Team Odd, had to take the shot at the end of the show. But we were brave and proud, and we took it with dignity and finesse... Hey, this is how I choose to remember this story and I'm sticking to it! (It was NOT good.)
After the show, those who were still up for it (and not jetlagged or exhausted from partying), joined me in hitting the old Vegas strip. We explored the sights, saw some amazing performances, took plenty of photos and selfies, and took full advantage of the open alcohol laws. A yardstick of slushie-booze to walk down the street with? Don't mind if I do! As the night grew late, one by one, the Whabammers headed back to the hotel, and by 5 am, Day 1 had wrapped.
It was a massive success.
Day 2 started at 8 am (yes, just 3 hours later) for me because we had to prepare a feast for our famished! After cleaning up the aftermath of Nerdy Bartender (MASSIVE thank you to my parents!), we set up for "Brunch by Mama and Papa Roy." They not only made a spread that would make a Vegas buffet blush, but without them, StaceyCon would never have happened. They worked SO hard to make it all come together! Staceys Parents Are Best Parents!
There were eggs, bacon, bagels, waffles, sausages, and enough maple syrup to turn everyone in the room into a Canadian. If that wasn't enough, the famous Papa Roy caesar was there too Canadianize and de-hangover those who were moving a little slower from the night before. But we didn't stop there: in true Nerdy Bartender fashion, there were bottles of champagne that I sabred with Dayne Cody from Geekoholics, who somehow managed to screw this up but without shattering the bottle… I am still amazed by how this feat was possible... anyway, bottomless mimosas for everyone! Well, “everyone” is relative. Bottomless mimosa for everyone who could wake up and be at the suite by 11 am! Once the dedicated had had their fill, we packed up and checked out of the suite for noon...-ish.
Before I get into the rest of Day 2, I need to go back to the unsung heroes of Day 1. ZeroPointProps, SirGforce, and MikeItSo deserve medals of honour, or statues, or at least a bottle of whiskey each, for pulling off the stream. It wasn’t easy! Not only did we have to fly much of our gear from up here in Canada, but ZeroPointProps also had to bring a ton of gear from down in Texas. And of course, tech equipment is notorious for becoming fussy and fickle when introduced to a new environment (much like traveling with a cat), so after several hours, MikeItSo and Zero were able to get the microphones, cameras, and computers talking, only to have the computer ignore the premium-paid Internet signal. The funny thing about live streaming: you need the Internet! Enter: Sir_Gforce. He sat down and starting pushing buttons that caused screens to appear that I have never seen before, Windows of text, sounds of cursing, and many whiskeys later, he solved the Internet issue, and the stream was saved!
Have you hugged your Mods today?
After this, the Mods took out their pre-assigned teams on a photo scavenger hunt down Fremont St using cans of Brewdog PunkIPA as props. Their mission? Bring attention to The Nerdy Bartender TV show, and The Brewdog Network by being, what would later be coined as, Wha-bassadors. These are just a few of the many photos that were captured on this task! (Search #staceycon on Instagram to find more!) But this was also a delay tactic for a big surprise I had planned...
At 5:30, everyone showed up exactly on time, well, almost everyone- I’m looking at you JackJack, and we boarded a HUGE stretch-limo that drove us down the Main Strip to the Las Vegas sign where we got a big group photo! It was so much fun, we shouted “WHABAM!” out the windows and drank champagne. With the disco lights flashing, and the music bumping, we even got to see TheSoleMan rock out harder than anyone to “Seagulls”- it was the best! For many Whabammers, it was their first time in a limo!
After the photos, we got dropped off in the heart of sin city. A huge thank you to VegasVIP for being so accommodating and professional with our drive, we will definitely call you for next time! Speaking of professional, this is when we officially made the largest single order of chicken nuggets that this Vegas McDonalds had ever had: 260! I’ve never been so excited to order food as I was at this moment. And the manager was absolutely wonderful, she even made sure all the fries that came with the orders were fresh!
After filling our bellies, it was time to take on the Strip! We explored several of the most impressive hotels like the gorgeous Venetian with its painted ceiling, sculptures, and gondolas. We marveled at the magnificent Volcano Show in front of The Mirage, followed by the magical Bellagio lights from both behind the fountains and then the front. It was at this point that I finally admitted that both heels and flip-flops were a poor choice of footwear, and Sevrahn (who drove 34 hours just to attend StaceyCon) put me on his shoulders and carried me.
Who am I to say no to such an offer?
The night was not short of shenanigans. With almost everyone wearing our swag, we couldn't go far without someone asking what Whabam was, or having people shout "Whabam!" at us. And when asked, the Whabammers were quick to educate them on StaceyCon, Nerdy Bartender, Whabam, and more- we even had people at card tables asking us to shout our sub call in the middle of the casino for good luck! Vegas knew that the Whabammers were in town!
Day 3 started later because it was a pool day! It was time to take a break from the go-go-go of the weekend, so we grabbed a big section, spread out our WHABAM towels, relaxed beside the giant shark tank, and literally ran the bar out of jello-shot-syringes! By the way, whoever decided to put hot tubs in the desert is a genius; it felt SOOOOOO good on our aching feet! But just because we were taking it easy, doesn’t mean we weren’t racing upstairs to zoom down the waterslide that goes THROUGH A GIANT TANK OF SHARKS WITH FRICKIN’ LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS. Believe it or not, only a part of that sentence isn’t true.
After working up an appetite, we treated ourselves to a "fabulous" all-you-can-eat buffet (it was okay) before heading out to Fremont St for one last stroll. In some sort of weird, poetic, Ocean’s 11 way, we wanted to watch the lights to close down the weekend, but since we weren’t near the Bellagio, we settled for the Fremont Light Show that happens on the ceiling. As we wandered, a promoter approached us and invited us to their bar. We decided to check it out, and while we expected the place to be dead, no one expected to walk into a place that had two people dancing by themselves on the dance floor surrounded by absolutely nobody. It was laughable, but I knew right away that this meant they were desperate, so we talked them into giving us their VIP balcony for free! A balcony that overlooked the street below, and gave an unobstructed view of the light show. It could not have been more perfect, and it summed up StaceyCon in a way I could never have dreamed.
By this point, several people had to leave to catch their flights, and it was so sad to say goodbyes, but at the same time, it was heartwarming to see Whabammers who only met each other just days before, hugging and wishing each other safe journeys. Most of you arrived as Internet acquaintances, but after the adventures, the nuggets, and a little Nerdy Bartender action, you left as friends, and in some cases, family. And while there were a few more adventures and stories that happened after the Light Show, this is where everything officially came to a close in my mind. To me, this was more than a convention, more than a meetup; it was a firm reminder of how I want to live my life, how I want to build my career, how I want to grow relationships with my fans, friends, and family.
This was more than the sum of its parts.
This was StaceyCon.
Now, who wants StaceyCon 2.020? (2020, get it?)
Photo Credits to Dragonflight Photography, Kurtis Roy, ZeroPointProps, Clasicmac, Mike Parkerson