Summer In The City 2015 #SitC2015
Summer In The City is an event which is currently in progress at ExCeL in London.
Described by organisers as “The UK’s largest YouTube convention bringing together creators, fans and brands together for a weekend”, it has been going for years and this year I have been dragged along with my eldest daughter, who desperately wanted to go.
This is a live-blog of the events.
10.17am: There’s the unmistakable sound of teenage chatter, a strange mix of excitement and slightly squeaky sounds as we sit in the cavernous entrance hangar, waiting to be allowed in.
We’re an hour early. This was partly by design and partly by the sheer lack of traffic on the Sunday morning roads.
Charisma, my 14-year-old hasn’t stopped chatting excitedly since I picked her up around 9 am. It’s now 10.10am and her excitement shows no signs of abating. She’s currently sat to my left singing “What you waiting for” in the same slightly out of tune manner that I do when I sing.
I would estimate that there are a few hundred here already though the size of the hangar allows for seemingly infinite amounts of people. I must be the only adult here that has a wristband on. Anyone else that has passed their teens is either working here or has dropped someone off.
Charisma is here solely to see Niki and Sammy. YouTubers extraordinaire. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them. The only reason I know them is because they are constantly being Chromecasted in my flat when the kids are over. I have a wristband that allows me access to a meet and greet with Jaackmate. This name means nothing to me, and Charisma isn’t overly enthusiastic when I press her for details on who it is and why they have a double-a in their name.
10.28am: There appears to be no queuing system here. This makes my brain itch.
My heart swells slightly as I notice a couple of other adults with wristbands. Part of me wants to catch their eye to exchange that knowing look. “Oh. You’ve been dragged along too?” I imagine this would be inferred by a simple nod of the head, perhaps a roll of the eyes. It doesn’t happen, though. The other adults seem to be looking around blankly as if they know that there is their fate for most of the day and that there is no way out.
A guy in his mid- to late-teens stands up about twenty feet away. He starts strumming a guitar. I can’t work out if I’m more annoyed by his guitar playing in public or by the fact he is wearing a beanie hat indoors when it’s not cold. I simply take this as a stark reminder of how old I am.
10.33am: We’ve moved. We’re now closer to Guitar Boy. He has a red and white lumberjack shirt on and is thin enough that I fear he will disappear from view if he turns sideways. The mop of hair poking out from under his beanie hat is a faded green.
The hat comes off and I suddenly wonder if it is, in fact, a girl. I ask Charisma, who takes a cursory look and mutters something about not knowing and why have I asked her, before turning her attention back to the photos on her phone.
10.38am: The guitar player continually plays the same chords over and over to the people that are with her. One is wheelchair-bound. I wonder if this was caused after a previous guitar playing incident which caused someone to snap. I decide not to share this horrible thought for fear that my daughter may disown me for being an arsehole. Let’s be honest, who’d blame her. Instead, I just post it on the blog and will wince anytime someone with green hair and a guitar comes near me for fear that they may whack me.
10.41am: We’ve moved forward. I’m not sure what happened, but there was a sudden increase in volume and the whole floor of people who had been sitting down collectively rose to their feet, like a set of dominoes falling in reverse.
Everyone moved forward - we must have moved about 30 feet - and then stopped. There’s still 30 minutes until the doors open and the consensus after a couple of minutes is that they were merely making room for the new arrivals. I sit down again and scan the room for the guitar player who, in the rush, has stopped playing.
11 am: The doors open! We know this simply from the sudden excited squeal from the throng of people at the front. There seems to be one man controlling the hundreds in the crowd. He has both hands in the air and is motioning for the crowd to calm down.
I want to shout “We’re not worthy!” but know that there are approximately six people in the thousand or so present that would understand the reference. I feel old again.
Somehow this man seems to single-handedly guide the excited group of impatient teenagers across a busy corridor and into another hangar where the event is taking place. We enter and immediately head for the meet and greet section. A wrong turn - left, instead of right - means that by the time we get to the meet and greet section, we are some way behind where we would have been. It’s annoying, but by no means the end of the world.
We’re immediately told to start queuing again. Fortunately, this isn’t a surprise as we knew this section didn’t start until midday. Although being British, queuing is in my blood, I’m beginning to get bored of it now.
Charisma’s excitement has worn off slightly though she is still keen to get in to see Niki and Sammy. She’s just less animated than she was an hour ago.
11.37am: The WiFi here is atrocious. So much so that I’ve chosen to open up my phone for others to tether to. The password is clearly labelled in the WiFi name but ten minutes in and nobody has chosen to connect to it.
A woman walks past the queue with two illuminous green wristbands in her hand. “does anybody want these meet and greet tickets for…” the name of the YouTuber is unremarkable to me and therefore instantly forgettable. The fact that the poor woman went almost the entire length of the queue before giving them away is indicative of the popularity of whoever it was.
The only other brief moment of excitement as we queue is when Charisma suddenly gasped. Niki and Sammy were walking past, deep in conversation with a security guard. They went fairly undetected, and though I told Charisma she should say hi as they went past, she could barely muster the word “Guys!” which came out as a weird excited whisper before the moment was gone and the twins were out of sight.
There is a massive, empty space in front of us where they are going to process the people who won the ballots to gain meet and greet tickets. This is a stark contrast to the sheer volume of people behind us in the queue.
11.50am: They’re letting people in! It hadn’t occurred to me that with the meet and greets starting at midday, they’d have to start processing the queue earlier to get things underway. I bid goodbye to Charisma as we only had one ticket to see Niki and Sammy and I make my way to the main hangar.
12.40pm: The meet and greet goes on until 2pm, but in the 45 minutes or so since I left her, Charisma has been surprisingly quiet on Twitter. I was expecting a stream of thoughts and comments to be tweeted as she waited, but instead there’s been just a couple of tweets, mainly to people that she knows through Twitter. Otherwise it’s very quiet.
I’ve managed to draw some money out, grab a cup of tea and get a seat near the entrance. I have a clear view of… actually, I don’t know what you would call it. Some kind of elasticated trampoline jump thing. Whatever it is, it looks fun, though I can’t help but notice those going on it all look rather bored by the whole experience.
12.48pm: I’ve no idea who the band are, if they are famous, or how it all ties in with the event, but they are currently murdering Bohemian Rhapsody so badly, I can only assume they are trying to wake the very ghost of Freddie Mercury in anger.
12.54pm: Charisma has texted me to say that she should be meeting Niki and Sammy soon. It’s hard to tell via text just how excited she is though I can only imagine she is almost delirious with excitement now.
12.59pm: In amongst the throng of teenagers there have been a couple of adults wandering around filming themselves. I’m not sure what the correct term for a video selfie is? Maybe a velfie? I’ve been surprised that there aren’t more people documenting their day this way, given that the event is based around YouTubers. Part of me fully expected there to be groups of YouTube wannabes here, but I think I’ve seen more cameras at football games and concerts than I have here.
I vaguely recognised one of the guys who was velfieing (that word looks horrible, doesn’t it?) as someone that the kids watch on YouTube, but I think I may have mistaken him for someone else. The YouTuber I am thinking of is an Irish guy that always seems to have his wife and kids with him. This guy was alone.
1.20pm: Charisma is back. She cried when she met the twins, apparently. Tears of joy, thankfully. They recognised her, which she was over the moon about, and gave her some sweets. Someone has filmed it for her, and she got a photo taken, so she is over the moon.
Now we are hunting for someone else I don’t know. I appreciate this means as much to the people reading this as it does to me. Sorry.
2.15pm: This is what we came for! Charisma has finally met Niki and Sammy (and Chai!), and we have the photographic evidence to prove it. Check out the matching footwear going on!
2.22pm: Well, we’ve done what we set out to do. We’ve also been to the merchandise stands and spent actual money on Niki and Sammy posters. I thought that may be the end of our day, but it seems that the duo are set to sign posters and the likes around 3.30pm, so I dare say we will be here until then, at least.
I’m grateful that Charisma isn’t a Dan and Phil fan, as their queue for merchandising has been massively long all day.
I’ve taken this time to grab another cuppa. We’ve scoffed down some lunch (the most expensive burrito I’ve ever seen served in tin foil) and Charisma has disappeared because somebody was over by the YouTube section. I didn’t quite catch who it was as she rushed off, but she’s been gone for about ten minutes now and I can’t see her, despite the YouTube booth being directly in my line of vision.
I’m surprised at the amount of visitors here that have brightly coloured hair. I’ve seen red, green, dark and light blue, pink as well as some people with a range of the above and more. There are some odd stands here, such as Disney and The University of Lincoln, but for future reference, marketing and PR people, you should get some kind of coloured hair care product here for next year. You’d be hitting your target audience.
2.38pm: She’s back… and she’s off again. This time to go and find Ollie Martin who is - according to his last tweet - looking like a crack whore. Nicely put. She also took a tenner from me to but a Niki and Sammy wristband for her and her sister, Brooke.
3.17pm: More queuing. We’ve gone round the hall a few times and not seen anything (or anyone) that has taken our interest, so we’ve decided to queue at the Niki and Sammy merchandise stall. We’ve been told that they will be there at 3.30pm, so not too long to wait. A small queue has formed in anticipation, though it’s nothing compared to some of the ones nearby.
My back is killing me. Another reminder of my age, as if being surrounded by teens wasn’t enough to drive it home. Someone pass me some painkillers…
Charisma is flagging slightly too, judging by the big yawn she has just let out. Still, we wait…
3.19pm: Charisma has just pointed out that the YouTuber with a massive queue to our left (Bry? I can’t quite see his sign from here) went to the local school in Chelmsford. When I think back to famous alumni of where I went to school, I think it peaks out at a semi-professional footballer who played for Welling United, our local team.
Mind you, we didn’t have YouTube back then. Not that I suppose that would have made a difference.
3.31pm: I’ve been told that I can “go and sit down somewhere” if I want to. I’m not sure if this is teenage-speak for “Dad, go away before you embarrass me.” or “Dad, you looked bored and in pain, go and sit down.” Either way, I made the right noises (‘are you sure? You’ll be ok on your own?’) before quickly extracting myself from the queue and finding a seat. I’ve also necked a couple of paracetamol.
I’m hoping that Charisma manages to meet her idols without sobbing this time. Or maybe that’s just a ploy to get a cuddle. She’s a smart girl, after all.
3.40pm: She’s back, this time armed with signed posters and a claim that she didn’t cry this time. She’s also got some video footage of the twins saying hi to her sister.
3.41pm: And she’s off again. The words “I’m just going to leave this poster here as I want to go off and… actually, I’ll take the posters with me…” left hanging in the air.
3.43pm: I’ve taken to Googling my old school, Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar, to find our famous alumni. There’s a long list of names, most of which I don’t recognise. A couple of names stand out, though: Quentin Blake and Will Hutton. Nobody too recent, though.
Charisma has returned now, having had her photo taken with YouTuber Gary C. I’ve posed the question about anything else she wants to do and it looks like we’ve done everything we came to do.
3.59pm: The second photo has gone up on Twitter. Am I the only one that just see a bit of the Proclaimers here?
4.46pm: Charisma has just taken a selfie with Grace Mandeville. Apparently, as she was trying to take the photo, her phone freaked out and basically refused to work. Grace was graceful (pun intended) enough to wait and eventually Charisma managed to get her picture, and also one with OohGaryC, who was nearby.
5.43pm: That’s it. Summer In The City 2015 is all over for us. I’ve just dropped Charisma home and she was excitedly chatting all the way home so I think she’s had a good day. We even found time to record your own YouTube video on the way back. I will put that video up later on today or tomorrow.
I was sceptical about going, though now I’ve seen how much she enjoyed going, I’m glad that Charisma got to go. It was definitely worth going to.
I suppose I should leave one last thing here, which is a link to my own YouTube channel. Hope some of you have a look! DannyUK YouTube.