subcultures

The Parking Lot Parties of an Anime Convention After Dark

In which anime nerds attempt to prove that they're cooler than you.

by Allison Tierney; photos by Hayley Stewart
May 30 2017, 3:44pm

Fandom conventions can be monotonous: panels, merch, a sea of people in cosplay. But Anime North, Canada's largest con of its kind, has something more rarely found: nightlife.

That nightlife at the Toronto convention includes official indoor and outdoor "raves" (as most refer to them), but as photographer Hayley Stewart and I found this year, the soul of Anime North can be found in the DIY gatherings in the parking lot after dark.

"Coming to an environment where it naturally feels so comfortable and everyone has similar interests lets you open up," Austin, 22, told me. Austin, like many people I talked to in the parking lot, had met friends at Anime North (AN) years ago and became close to them. He started going to the con seven years ago. "Anime is something we absolutely love, so having a shared, close connection over that is fantastic."

Earlier that day, the Conservative Party of Canada held its leadership convention at the same spot and elected Andrew Scheer; as I hung out with Austin and his friends in a pickup truck, suits were still walking by occasionally and cops in golf carts patrolled between the rows of cars.

Around 12:30 AM after a lap around the parking lot and meeting an intimidating bunch of 4chan kids wearing matching black-and-white Adidas tracksuits, I went to a renegade dance party happening near the con entrance. The host, Louis (pictured above holding Canadian cash), who had a customized white stereo, told me he has now dubbed his unofficial jam "Trap North."

"I'm just a guy who likes playing loud music," he told me. "To be honest, I'm not a fan [of anime], I'm just here to hang out with people!"

"We're here to smoke cigarettes and weed," one of the guys from this group of partiers (not pictured) told us.

Members of the 4chan group "#/a/torontofinancial" squat beside U-Haul. When I asked them what was with the U-Haul and what they were doing, one said, "Just don't worry about it."

"Irony: the spice of life," this dude, who cosplayed as a Trump supporter, said.

At renegade dance circle Trap North, a dancer goes off to "Panoramic" by Dmac (aka Mac Dre)

"I'm trained in Filipino stick fighting, escrima," the guy twirling this axe around told me. Just minutes before, a friend of this group's left the parking lot by drifting in his car.

"The line is too long for the rave, and we're scared of furries," the girl with the glowsticks in her hair told me.

The guy on the left told us he was a professional 'Super Smash Bros' player sponsored by hentai publisher FAKKU

Just behind this catgirl, a cage blocks off the Conservatives' convention from the anime fans'

Austin's friends hang out as Blink-182 blasts out of their pickup truck

The catgirl on the left showed me her anime tattoos, of which she had many, as planes from the nearby airport flew overhead.

Anime trash, or what we all are in our hearts

Follow Allison Tierney on Twitter and Hayley Stewart on Instagram.