I am very privileged to be invited again to spend three days with the wonderful mix that is Dark Side Con - a show/convention for fans by fans, that covers all aspects of fandom in one intimate show!
The guests this time include Pam Rose (Leesub Serln - The Weird Girl from the Cantina in ANH and Alpha Base technician in Space 1999), Peter Roy, who played a variety of characters in ANH and ROTJ, as well as being '006' in Thunderball and many more films beside. We have also Trevor Butterfield, who played a Stormtrooper and Imperial Officer, Rankor Keeper and the Rebel Officer- Lieutenant Blount in Star Wars. Like me, he left screen appearances for a new career behind the camera after 1982. In his case, it was to work in Special Effects and his talents have been evidenced by his work not only in Star Wars, but Alien, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter films. In addition, there is a list of celebrities known more to German audiences as writers, musicians, anime enthusiasts and all sorts.................Oh! And me....! LOL :)
So here we are! Safely arrived in Germany and already reeling from the wonderful hospitality and friendly reception offered freely by Markus Tschentschel, Rolf Prippenow and Alex, who met us from the airport. Heavy traffic and diversions made a half-hour journey into two hours, but we had an hour still to relax and settled again into the comfortable family Hotel Specht (Woodpecker), where I had stayed the last two visits.
|Das Hotel Specht, Bochum-Werne, Dortmund.|
We assembled in the bar (you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! LOL) and were taken out to a very nice Greek/fusion restaurant called ‘Arli’. I had eaten there before with Derek Lyons and knew how charming and extrovert the owner is, but my fellow guests had still to find this out, as he warned us it was useless to look at the menu as he had some old fish he had to get rid of and that would be his surprise for us – needless to say, even the production of three beautifully fresh and uncooked fish on a platter left us all reaching for the a la carte menu! Clever man that restaurateur! :) The meal was, of course, delicious and our friend returned with ouzo for all! As I was genteely sipping a gin and tonic, I managed to escape and Pam was very happy with her white wine. But everyone else enjoyed the treat and we were finally sated and out of there!
Whilst waiting for the cars to be fetched from the underground car park, Pam and I staggered gently (cough, cough!!!) across the road, drawn by a shop window display, pictured below!
|H.M. The Queen flanked by Kate and Posh Spice!!!|
So, onwards into the first day, starting with the pick up at 2 pm. Very civilized! As I look out of my hotel window this morning, I can see the Christmas decorations starting to go up in the market square! Seems Christmas comes earlier and earlier these days…
... so we arrived at 2 pm to find the opening ceremony for the show was scheduled for 7 pm, giving us plenty of time to meet and mingle. So many people I had met in previous years – it was like a family reunion and all made Pam, Peter and Trevor most welcome. Trevor even found four of his action figures, which are on re-issue and grabbed them eagerly. Pam, once again, found her figure a rarity and as she had only brought two with her from England, I could imagine they would be snapped up immediately on the morrow!
The opening ceremony was compered again by Freddy Bee, the gifted young German comedian, and more or less everyone was called to the stage at some point and introduced – a great idea as it’s always nice to put faces to names and we were about to share the convention for the next few days. Once again it is important to note that this convention is a true fan-led meeting embracing all sci-fi interests. There were as many dressed for Star Gate, as Star Trek, and many, many more! And that is another thing, those not in costume are the exceptions and this show is modelled around role-play, skits, plays and fan films with presentations by authors, costumiers and the Rebel Legion, this year. Downstairs in the smaller function rooms there were banks of laptops with gamers, anime and manga fans. Software builders are also taken care of with their own rooms. On arrival back at the hotel, we sat down to a delicious meal and retired to bed, quite exhausted!
|The Outdoor Market which set up in the middle of the night!|
|Anyone fancy rollmop sandwiches and smoked eels?|
The next day, having met for breakfast and the others having walked around the outdoor market in the town square, we awaited pick up for the first full day of the convention proper at 10.45 am. It proved to be a relatively busy one all round. No sooner had we arrived than we were drawn into a ‘breakfast with the guests’, which started slowly but eventually became a cacophony of sound as we were all talking non-stop around the table! From there we went to set up our photographs and ephemera and were immediately busy with a constant stream of visitors and exhibitors wanting signings. I met some old friends again and we had a great time catching up. I was especially pleased to see the lovely Inge Meiercord with her son, Marcel, whom I had met the first time I went to Germany for this convention, when we hit it off straight away! Lovely, lovely lady!!!
Later in the day, Pam and I conducted a Q & A in the main auditorium, which was at times lively and I was asked to sing something, so I gave the poor audience a shortened rendition of Hallelujah, a capella. The questions ranged from how did we start to what were some of the strangest things that happened during our careers. It was fun going back to the beginning and a marked change from talking of only Star Wars. The day became quieter towards 6 pm, though we were obliged to be there until 9. So, we packed up and joined the throng and enjoyed a performance on stage by my friend 'Der Klingolaus' - the Klingon Santa Claus - and then we were all roped into judging the costume competition, in all categories. We had a lot of fun with that, as the costumes were some of them quite spectacular and some were…less so :).
|Der Klingolaus with Pam and a Shaman!|
|The costume competition competitors.|
In any event, the time slipped away in pleasant company and we finally returned to the hotel for another fine meal. I must say that the Hotel Specht does serve some incredibly good meals! Our compliments to Christoph and his wife!!!!
Sunday we arrived the same time as the day before and Trevor and I immediately set to on a Q & A session,which was fun! Peter and Pam followed on and had a very cosy chat going when I peered in! Expecting this day to be slower, I was amazed how many people arrived. I met a lovely group of guys and a girl from Paris and had the chance to brush up on my French, a nice Swedish couple, my old friend Ettore Holle from the Netherlands and lots more Germans! :). My brain was fairly frazzled by the end of the day as we came to attend the closing ceremony. Freddy was great and made the mistake of being caught out and being obliged to sing – now on Facebook with his permission. He also had to tell the audience that the film they had seen of Pam’s life contained the Country & Western singer Pam Rose, from the States, and not our Pam at all. A huge laugh was gained at his expense for that confession!!!
|I love the look of disbelief as Pam tells Freddy that that wasn't her singing!!! LOL|
Markus made a very gracious speech of thanks to all concerned and we each replied with our really heartfelt thanks for the amazing hospitality and wonderfully friendly reception and care afforded us. Oh, how we wish more conventions were like this! I have been exceptionally lucky to have been befriended by such nice people and look forward to another trip in the future! Back to the hotel and time for a quick drink before the packed streets outside had their procession and ceremony in honour of St. Martin.
|Crowds assembling for the Heiliger Martin's parade and play.|
|Pam checks out a friendly wolverine! Beauty and the Beast!)|
Here is the link to the closing song of the convention, when Freddy Bee was put on the spot to sing it again, alone!