The Guide to IAGSDC Convention Chapter 22
Fun Badge Tours
Why are badges considered "fun", and why is there a tour for them? No, it's not the badges that are fun – it's what you have to do to get them. A Fun Badge Tour is an optional event at each Convention, in which you are shuttled around the local area (by bus, on foot, by boat, or other local transit method) to dance at various unusual locations. You sign up for fun badge tours when you register for convention. Space is usually limited to a few hundred people.
Each dance location can fall into one or more categories: scenic, entertaining, historical, practical, and just-because-we-can. (See if you can figure out which category applies to each of the examples below.)
At the end of the fun badge tour, you receive a packet of special badge dangles, containing one dangle for each dance stop. These are typically referred to as "fun badges", because you get them just for having fun. Hence the name, "Fun Badge Tour".
Fun badge tour itineraries are carefully held secrets! Often, the drivers and bus guides don’t know where they're going until the start of the tour. (Occasionally, the drivers or guides get lost – but that’s one of the occasional surprises.) You won't be told where you're going until you've started your journey – and even then, you’ll only find out what's planned one stop at a time.
A sampling of Fun Badge Tour stops from previous conventions:
- At the historical site of a former brickworks in Toronto, ON.
- In front of the Public Library in Vancouver, BC.
- The entrance plaza of the Baltimore Zoo.
- A studio back lot in Hollywood where the movie "Wild, Wild West" was filmed.
- Around the computer-controlled fountain in front of Portland's Rose Garden stadium. (And a wet dance for some in the middle.)
- In the desert garden of the Ethel M Chocolates factory in Las Vegas.
- In the middle of Castro Street in San Francisco.
- In front of a baseball stadium in Phoenix.
Fun Badge stops are (usually) scheduled in advance, with suitable permits obtained from the local authorities. There are rumors that every so often, a fun badge tour makes a "guerrilla" stop at a tourist venue that's not expecting us. We've never been able to either substantiate or eliminate this rumor.
Unsurprisingly, several hundred gay square dancers have a tendency to attract onlookers. To minimize traffic problems, fun badge tours are usually held early on Sunday mornings. It's not unusual to start at 7:30 AM. (During the 1999 Fun Badge Tour in Hollywood, Paul Waters, on-mic between calling tips, solemnly assured throngs of astonished tourists in front of the Chinese Theatre that "we do this EVERY Sunday morning".)
Sometimes there's a local police or law enforcement escort that follows the buses from site to site, clearing traffic ahead, and tantalizing the dancers in the buses. (Talk about Officer Friendly!)
What about Fun Badge food? Sometimes, the first or second stop on a fun badge tour doubles as a continental breakfast break. Sometimes you're handed a boxed or paper-bagged breakfast as you get onto the bus. Water or juice is usually available on each bus.
Experienced fun badge tour attendees usually bring a bottle of water with them, just in case. Don't forget to bring sunscreen. You may also want to bring a camera, since you never know where you'll be dancing until you get there...and it could be some place pretty special!