Over the past years, geeky expressions have risen from the underground and hidden realm to the mainstreams. From merchandise to the simple pleasure of discussing your favorite leisure activity ranging from extreme outdoor sport, to fantasy literature; the geeky culture is thriving. In Colombia, is it’s happening rather fast and with events like SOFA many people, not only young adults but also entire families, are embracing and exteriorizing their inner ego. With a plethora of personal expressions in a tolerant jumping around, SOFA was a mouthful of freshness in an already rather depressing and dark reality in which most of us live. With spaces dedicated to fashion, fantasy merchandise, technology, art, and sports; every single attendant to SOFA could get exactly what they wanted to see which was to be able to express themselves.
SOFA contained several activities that were particular for each day that included fashion runaways, K-pop karaoke, and BMX exhibitions, but one of the events that gather more attention were those related to fashion and cosplay runaways. I must say that most of the costumes I saw were otaku related or DC Marvel related, with just a few exceptions. There was a runaway that involved a couple of models and pole, to which a lot of people had great expectations to see some risky costumes in a pole dance manner. Unfortunately reality did not meet the expectation, because the show was relatively early and because SOFA is family oriented, many people in the audience felt that the show was on the prudence side. However, it is worth noting that the models did their best to give a good show, despite the lack of stability that a portable pole can give. Another down point as that the costumes they wore were dismay related, perhaps to give it a kinky twist, but in reality that feeling was not there.
In the consumerism and capitalistic world that we are living, it is only fair that in an expo that promotes geeky culture you will find the stores that want to give you what you need. In a cornucopia of small stores, you could find anything you wanted to have. From classic comic book of the DC universe like Batman the Dark night, to independent artist that not only create their own comic books, but also all the merchandise related to it, that was the case for Jours de Papier, an initiative that created an entire universe based on two characters; first, the couple of creators promote their work through Facebook, and they were invited to participate in SOFA. Also, there was plenty of space to explore different aspects of the geeky universe, with a great contribution of graphic designers who were selling stickers, caricatures made live at the Expo. One of the places that stand out the most in my memory was a stand where a couple of artist where sculpting figure related to the Marvel universe and Dead Note. The skill those two guys had was impressive, and of course, everything been for sale, so you could leave with an impressive piece of art to take to your lovely home in case you need an extra grind.
In the exhibition department, there were three arenas within the SOFA expo. BMX exhibitions were a great attraction for those really into it. Ramps built to have not only BMX but also skaters to show to those that are not familiar with their skills, and I must say it is very appealing. Seeing these guys on bikes or skateboards just flying over the sky is quite effective to get one’s attention. Side to the flying BMX guys, there were several stores that promote and sell products for that demographic, which I found very interesting since most of the products they sell are made in Colombia rather than imported. Once you have crossed all the other stores, you may understand why the fact that they fabricate those items makes it a special thing. Besides the BMX spectacle, there was also a convention for circus activities, since, as well as anything inside of SOFA, is a subculture on the rising. Not clowns, however, but acrobats and jugglers playing around while the sound of the landing wheels served as soundtrack of the evening. I was impressed to see such thing mingle with a modern approach to acrobatics such as BMX enthusiasts.
Not all in SOFA was related to comic books. Perhaps a bit too hidden, there were several art exhibitions among the stores and exhibitions. One of those hidden treasures was an exhibition of black and white photographs from artist Ruven Afanador, well known for high scale portraits that were not exhibited properly in my opinion. Another exhibition hidden in the SOFA universe was held by Bakanica, a magazine that promotes a modern urban culture with all that implies; in this case was through a call to graphic and plastic designers to participate in a small exhibition. Once again, despite the interesting images that were at the Bakanica stand, they were ignored by most SOFA goers due to their location (next the fashion runway).
Moving around from stand to stand there were so many things to look at, but most important than the flamboyant aesthetics of the event was the kind of attitude that cross-dressing were displaying. At the entrance, without the makeup or the costume they were very regular and ordinary people, but once the full transformation occurred one could see that many of those cosplayers transformed themselves in body and mind. Many of them became the character they were portraying at the moment, and there was some sense of freedom. All this was captured by the lens of Angelica Vargas, who took the photos for this event.
The overall impression I got from SOFA was that it is an event growing almost exponentially not only regarding attendance but also in what the convention can gather. It was born from the otaku subculture, and it has grown to something more complex were many activities considered leisure take a whole new level of passion among cosplayers as well as muggles like me. Perhaps in the next edition I’ll gather some courage and decide to go wearing my inner ego out.