The Klingons Next Door: Inside the Vancouver Trekkie Convention

Photo Credit: Remy Scalza

Watch out Kitsilano:  There’s a Klingon in your midst.  Gwynyth Walsh, who played the nasty Klingon B’Etor in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series currently calls Kits home.   And her partner in crime on the TV show, sister Lursa, is played by another longtime Vancouver resident, Barbara March.  Who knew BC was so Klingon friendly?

These bits of trivia and more I learned after popping into the Vancouver Star Trek convention, held downtown over the weekend.   The ritzy ballrooms of the Sheraton Wall Centre were infested with Klingons, Vulcans and Orion slave girls.  If you’ve ever seen the documentary Trekkies, you probably know what I’m talking about: lots of really obsessed (and really nice and maybe a bit nerdy) people playing out their inner Star Trek fantasies.

Here’s a short video I made to give you a glimpse inside:

The weekend featured plenty of highlights.  There were autograph sessions with George Takei, the actor who played Sulu on Star Trek and who is also a staunch advocate for gay marriage.  There were cosmetic tips from a real Star Trek make-up artist; photo-ops with Star Trek celebs like sultry Nichelle Nichols (Uhuru for you fans out there); and a whole room filled with Star Trek memorabilia for sale.  But the absolute, hands-down highlight of the event was the fans themselves.

I started my day by sitting in on a Q&A session in the Sheraton’s Grand Ballroom with the Duras Sisters, the two local Klingons who call Vancouver home.  Several hundred fans sat enthralled as the sisters shared behind-the-scenes stories of life on the Star Trek set.  Among other interesting tidbits, I learned that there’s now a Klingon-English dictionary iPhone app, for those times when you’re on the road and really need to communicate with a Klingon.

Photo Credit: Remy Scalza

Afterward, members of the audience were invited onstage to partake in a Star Trek inspired quiz show.   Questions tested their knowledge of ridiculously arcane facts from 40-plus years of Star Trek.   For instance, can you name the only Canadian city ever mentioned in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode?  Stumped?  Couldn’t care less?  Well, in any case, it’s Calgary.

Photo Credit: Remy Scalza

Lots of fans at the event sported pairs of Spock ears and flashed the famous Vulcan salute.  But the real die-hards showed up in full regalia.  I had a chance to talk with two of them, 19-year-old Alice from New Westminster and 29-year-old Scott from Port Moody.  Alice, in a slinky, futuristic blue dress, was portraying a member of the crew’s science and medical department.  Scott, in his bright red uniform, was a Starfleet officer (“rank commander,” he made sure to point out, motioning to a set of gold “pips” on his collar).

Photo Credit: Remy Scalza

“Most science fiction is at its core social commentary,” said Scott, who got hooked on Star Trek at age six and watched religiously for the next 18 years until the show went off the air.  “It showed such a promising future where we had transcended violence and bigotry,” Alice said.

There were a few times during our conversation when I thought Alice and Scott had clearly lost the plot (like when they insisted that Star Trek’s sexy portrayal of women was “progressive” instead of just plain sexist).  But they made a lot of good points.   As I left the fantasy-world of the convention and walked out into a sunny Vancouver afternoon, I noticed a big group of guys all dressed up in Canucks jerseys and carrying a Canucks flag.  Hmm . . . maybe we all have our fantasies.

Any Star Trek fans out there?  What did you think of the convention?

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2 Responses to The Klingons Next Door: Inside the Vancouver Trekkie Convention

  1. Mauricio

    I didn’t see any klingons there, apart from the guy that was the target in the make-up, and the vendor who was like a TOS klingon in the first day.
    The convention was great. :-) I hope they come back again… I have some pictures of the costume contest winners to share, if you or anyone else is interested in. msb.ptr@gmail.com

  2. LT

    Sad… the person writing the article can’t even get Star Trek and Star Wars straight…

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