To begin with, Pantheacon was first organized nearly 30 years ago by Glenna Turner, proprietor of Ancient Ways. This makes her a pioneer in more than one sense; AFAIK Ancient Ways was the first blatantly Pagan (as versus "New Age" or generally "Occult") book-and-gift store in northern California, and Pantheacon was the first regular annual Pagan convention. Council of the Goddess had held conventions before then -- in the midwest as well as the west coast -- but they were irregular and occasional affairs. Since Pantheacon proved its success, the number of Pagan cons around the country has grown by leaps and bounds. I was amazed at the number of announcements for different Pagan cons on the flyers table. At least one of them was for a music-and-arts convention, which I'm definitely interested in.
I also noticed that the Depression hasn't hurt the convention too badly. It had enough members, for the full four days of the protracted weekend, to fill not only the convention hotel but an overflow hotel too. True, most of the members came from the San Francisco Bay area, and the rest from points north (fewer than half a dozen came from the southern part of the state, and I think I was the only one there from Phoenix), but that was still enough to support 10 programming tracks and 20 hospitality suites.
The subjects of the programming tracks were all over the spectrum: feminism, GLBT spirituality, philosophical bridge-building between the Pagan and Judeo-Christian communities, similarities of western Paganism and Hinduism, assorted art and literature panels, various concerts, several rituals by wildly different groups, and of course my panel on Bardic Magick. The dealers' room was enormous -- and tightly crowded, with half a dozen more merchants spilling out into the corridor -- and I never even made it to the art show.
As for the consuite and hospitality suites, well let's just say that I had to buy only two meals (overpriced, but what do you expect from a big hotel?) all the time I was there. I must admit, the CAW suite serves the best food, but the OTO has far and away the best bar. I'm afraid I didn't do much singing there; most of them had their own music, I was fighting off the usual convention cold that wiped out my upper range, and I mostly spent my time asking for rides back to LA, where my bus-ticket picked up (long story).
Anyway, my panel -- "Basics of Bardic Magic" -- was scheduled for 11PM on Sunday night, if you please, in the hotel bar. It still managed to draw an audience of about 50, so either I still have a lot of fans in the Bay Area or there's considerable interest in the magic of music. With my upper range gone I had to do my songs in Gm-Am, which is not the frequency most likely to arouse psychic talent, but perhaps that was all for the best. There was enough loose psychic energy flying around the convention hotel to create an army of gremlins. The pesky things stole away one of my star-pendant earrings, my good copper ring, and one of my smokeless/electric cigarettes -- no small loss in California, where the law forbids smoking
Altogether, a good time was had by all -- stupid Californian laws (against nudity as well as smoking, thank you) or no. If you can at all afford it, I'd strongly recommend going to Pantheacon at least once.