Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tips for Surviving Convention Week

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

"Ladies and gentlemen of the delegate class of 2008:

"Wear comfortable shoes.

"If I could offer you only one tip for the convention, comfortable shoes would be it. The long-term benefits of cushy shoes with solid arch support have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now."

As you probably know, the original text says "wear sunscreen" but it's a decent intro for an entry about what you can expect your day at convention to be like. Here is a preview:

1. Convention hall seats are unassigned. Unless you are a mayor or some distinguished member of your state delegation, delegates are assigned by section but not by seat. Veterans will send minions into the hall early in the day to save a section of seats.

2. Not much happens on the floor of the convention early in the day.
Could be different this year, but in the past the daytime program is typically slow without big name speeches. This is the best time to explore the city or take in the various convention events while walking around town.

3. You will do a lot of walking - wear good shoes. During the last two conventions, most convention goers had to walk about a mile just to get through the security perimeter which grants you access to the convention. Once inside, those concrete floors are not forgiving on your feet when you're in there for 8 hours at a time. Invest in some Dr. Scholl's!

4. Travel light. You probably will not make it back to your hotel room once you leave in the morning, but you also don't want to lug everything around with you all day.

5. Arrive to events early. The most popular events at conventions will have long lines and not everyone always gets in. And there is always the unexpected - so plan ahead! In Boston, a lot of delegates could not get in to see the Black Eyed Peas because of fire codes limiting the crowd (always a sign of a good party). During the LA convention, I was on a bus that was supposed to take the North Carolina delegation to Beverly Hills for a party, and almost ended up heading for San Diego. So whether you want to be at the front of the line or have time to correct a wrong turn, give yourself some extra time.

Hope these nuggets of info help!