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Our Kansas City Revels

Forty years ago, at the first MidAmericon in 1976, the very first Hugo Losers Party was held in my room at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City.

The night before, at the awards ceremony, I had lost two rockets (one to Larry Niven, one to Roger Zelazny, fwiw). The affair began as a modest little party in a modest little room, with some peanuts and cheese curls and whatever booze we had been able to scrounge from other parties. But as fate would have it, my room was next to the pool deck, which allowed us to overflow the confines of my double, which we soon did, to become the loudest, largest, and most memorable party of the con. Gardner Dozois was our 'herald,' announcing each guest as they appeared, and naming them either a winner or a loser. Losers were cheered and welcomed, winners were booed and cursed and pelted with peanuts... unless they told a good story about they were really losers. (Which Alfie Bester did most memorably). Thus did that first Losers Party pass into fannish legend.

In the decades that followed, the Hugo Losers Party became a worldcon tradition. Many more great parties were thrown (most notably, I think, the 1981 party in Rusty Hevelin's suite at Denvention), and eventually the party became somehow 'official' and a tradition arose whereby the following year's worldcon concom threw the bash after every Hugo ceremony. That worked for a while, but gradually the original spirit of the party was lost, as the event became stuffier and duller and more institutional, finally even abandoning the name 'Hugo Losers Party' because some sensitive (and irony-impaired) souls did not like being called losers. (Hey, we're all losers, boys and girls). The nadir was the 'party' the Sasquan concom threw at Loncon, which was truly a dismal affair. So last year, at Sasquan, I decided to reclaim the party that Gardner and I had started... but since life (and fandom) have been good to me, I was able to do a little more than we'd been able to do in 1976.

The Sasquan party was a great success, I think. But of course that meant I had to do it again. I mean, how not? This was fortieth anniversary, and we were returning to Kansas City. I did toy for a moment with the idea of trying to book my original 1976 hotel room... and the adjoining pool deck... but, alas, the room, the deck, and the pool itself are all gone, demolished in one of the hotel's numerous renovations over the past forty years. (The old gorgeous historic Muehlebach still stands, but alas, remained dark and unused throughout Big Mac II, with the con confined to the newer Marriott wing, and the even newer Marriott across the skybridge).

Instead we went two blocks away and rented out the Midland, a gorgeous old 1930s movie palace. I mean, how could I resist? I LOVE old movie theatres, especially the art deco palaces of the 30s and 20s, and the vaudeville houses that preceded them. And the Midland was stunning, as I think all our guests agreed.





Drinks were drunk, barbeque was eated, losers were feted, winners were mocked, Alfies were given (more on those next rock). And when two in the morning rolled round, the band played "Teen Angel" and we all remembered Dave Hartwell, who was sorely missed.

What more is there to say? It was a party to remember, I think. Just like 1976.

Comments

( 45 comments )
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mikzey
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:42 pm (UTC)
Nothing like a good old fashioned tradition ! Do you have any other routines or traditions ?
jimmy_hollaman
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:42 pm (UTC)
That was a wonderful party, so glad i got to come and be part of it. (I'm getting that invite framed, it was so beautiful) you did a wonderful job
joseirizarry
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:48 pm (UTC)
Losers Party Guests
Hi George,

I saw Stephen King was nominated for a Hugo, did he attend? Do you invite every nominee that lost or just the ones you know?
grrm
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Losers Party Guests
Steve was not at the convention. He almost never attends cons these days.

We invited all the losers we could find... (and the winners, though we warned them they'd be mocked)... but it was a big con and we did not find everyone. Oh, and we had a "no assholes" rule. But I believe we had something like four hundred people there, so I don't think we missed many.
ericcoleman
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:49 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, we stayed in the Muehlebach.
grrm
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:57 pm (UTC)
Really? I don't think so. You probably stayed in the "Muehlebach Towers" wing of the Marriott, like I did. The original old Muehlebach rooms, accessible from the elevators off the original lobby, are all closed.
(no subject) - ericcoleman - Sep. 8th, 2016 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
nasolini
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:49 pm (UTC)
Very interesting to see you in 1976 (userpic?)
grrm
Sep. 8th, 2016 06:58 pm (UTC)
Actually, that's me in 1973, at Torcon 2 in Toronto. I don't have a 1976 userpic.
(no subject) - nasolini - Sep. 8th, 2016 07:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Tanmay Kulkarni - Sep. 9th, 2016 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 9th, 2016 03:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Chris Huggins - Sep. 9th, 2016 09:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - werthead - Sep. 9th, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Erin Underwood
Sep. 8th, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank You!
George, the theater was beyond beautiful. It was such a treat to go inside and visit with all of my friends (new and old!) after the Hugo festivities were over.

Truly, after months and months of planning the Program for MidAmeriCon II followed by some very long days in Program Ops, that party was the icing on the cake. There were times during the program planning process that we laughed, and cried, and laughed again. :-) Then, at the Losers Party, we toasted you for throwing one hell of a bloody good bash. Thank you so much for a very GRRM time. Hugs!

...and I do miss David's friendly smiling face...and those ties!
kurtdbusiek
Sep. 8th, 2016 07:20 pm (UTC)
Losers Party
It was a great party -- and that theater was a wonderful space for it!

Glad I could actually be there this year!
missmatchedeyes
Sep. 8th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
The bar in that theatre is too cool! Glad you had fun, George.
R2SO4
Sep. 8th, 2016 09:19 pm (UTC)
wow
Is that Michael Swanwick? It'd be nice if my two favorite SFF writers were friends.

And speaking of the greats...was Gene Wolfe at the con? I think it's high time he won a Hugo.
grrm
Sep. 8th, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
Re: wow
Agree about Gene. A fine man, and a true artist. One of our greats.

Alas, no, so far as I know he was not in Kansas City.
naomikritzer
Sep. 8th, 2016 09:25 pm (UTC)
This party was AMAZING.
parsleigh
Sep. 8th, 2016 09:30 pm (UTC)
It was a grand party!
ladybird97
Sep. 8th, 2016 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being a gracious and generous host, and for giving back to the community of fans and authors in such a wonderful way!

(And thank you for those chocolate milkshakes and lemon cakes. Yum :)
Frances Marion Platt
Sep. 8th, 2016 10:30 pm (UTC)
Just desserts
THERE WERE LEMONCAKES? Dang. I need to start writing some stories that are good enough to get nominated for Hugos, but not good enough to win.

Speaking of confections, a couple of us regulars over at Watchers on the Wall think that we have figured out what the literally 'bittersweet' ending of ASoIaF is: dark chocolate. Arya sails off into the sunset to find out what is west of Westeros, discovers the New World, comes back with chocolate (to universal acclaim).

Re: Just desserts - ladybird97 - Sep. 9th, 2016 11:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Kelly Kluthe
Sep. 8th, 2016 11:11 pm (UTC)
BBQ
Where did you end up getting BBQ?
grrm
Sep. 9th, 2016 03:51 am (UTC)
Re: BBQ
I had bbq at several places in KC, but the bbq at the party was provided by the caterer.
caravaggio2012
Sep. 8th, 2016 11:14 pm (UTC)
Theaters
Do you think with the rise in quality of televisions and more and more people forgoing the movies and waiting to watch at home that there could be a revival in theaters for the kind of majesty these older theaters had?
grrm
Sep. 9th, 2016 03:51 am (UTC)
Re: Theaters
Sadly, no. I wish.
Re: Theaters - caravaggio2012 - Sep. 9th, 2016 04:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Theaters - vikjha - Sep. 9th, 2016 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Theaters - grrm - Sep. 9th, 2016 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
leslielibrarian
Sep. 9th, 2016 02:40 am (UTC)
Party!
Hi George:

It was a lovely party in a great venue. Do you know who created the themed drinks? I really enjoyed the tiny alcoholic milkshakes, esp. the ?Castle Black? (Guinness stout, chocolate ice cream, and raspberry syrup). The other one, ?White Wolf? was good too, with curacao, white chocolate, and, and, and (I forget).

Thanks for the invite!

Leslie (and Ivan)
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