Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend Summer In The City with Sara from Pretty In Pink. I want to make it clear I had a great weekend and am really glad I went! Sara got the tickets through a ballot, which I don't know about as I didn't apply, she was lucky to get them as thousands of people applied!
Summer In The City is the UK answer to Playlist Live or Vidcon. It's a two day YouTube convention/meet up that took place at Alexandra Palace in London. I haven't been to SITC before, this was it's fifth year and first time that it was ticketed. SITC previously has been held in Hyde Park and Jubilee Gardens and was free, it cost £12 for the ticket. I didn't see a problem paying that (if it goes up a lot next year though I might). I understood they need to pay for the venue and security etc as it's not safe or legal to hold an event like this in a public space. This year over 7,000 people went to SITC!
I had no idea what to expect at SITC. We were in the older side of attendees, it was mostly girls about 14-16, obviously not a problem at all. There was a few rooms and halls with different things happening, but pretty much everywhere had a really long queue. Sara and I watch different sides of YouTube, she knew pretty much all the 'Content Creators' (the name for YouTuber's), I only really knew the Louise/Zoe/Tanya/Jim/Alfie/Joe etc group - but I have subscribed to about 30 new channels from all the people I saw!
When we got to SITC on Saturday Sara really wanted to meet Dan and Phil, we joined a really long queue and waited for ten minutes without moving, I learnt there was no guarantee of us getting anywhere near the front unless we were prepared to wait 3 hours+, deal with lots of queue jumpers and just chaotic madness. We gave up as it was not worth it just to get a photo. I didn't go to any of the scheduled meet&greets over the weekend as I personally didn't like the idea of queuing for hours for a three second picture with someone. Fair enough to the people who did, but in my eyes the Content Creators are just other people like us and I find it a weird concept to get my head around the whole meet and greet thing when as mad as that.
This brings me to "fan girls". I have nothing against them, if you're passionate about something that's fab, I'd have a meltdown if Harry Styles walked past, but some things we saw girls (it was pretty much 80% teen girls) doing was bad. When a YouTuber like Alfie from PointlessBlogTV would be trying to walk to the Green Room and would literally have hundreds of girls screaming and chasing him, making it impossible to get anywhere. That sort of thing happened lote, there was constant screaming. I think fan girls" did ruin some of SITC for attendees and definitely for YouTubers. They couldn't walk around without being mobbed, bigger YouTubers were always in the Green Room unless doing something scheduled or they had security to help them have impromptu meetups (which of course involved more long queues). I did have to tell a few girls how a queue works, they seemed to think to get in a Panel it was okay to shove in front of people that had been waiting ages.
If you weren't queuing for a meet and greet there wasn't a great deal to do apart from watch the Main Stage or two other rooms that would have a panel on (but again you have to queue for a long time to make sure you got in). We watched a few great panels with a variety of different YouTubers and I really learnt a lot. My favourite was the Jack and Finn panel as I have a huge soft spot for them. They talked about running JacksGap, their future plans as well as answering questions (nobody asked for their numbers!) Sara loved the Collaboration Panel with Tyler Oakley, a.k.a the Queen, Marcus Butler, Troye and a few others. The best panel I saw was 'Becoming YouTube' where Content Creators debated issues that are found on YouTube such as the gender gap, how much someone should share and other topics. It was really interesting to watch and is here if you have some time to kill!
I was really lucky to briefly meet Louise from Sprinkle Of Glitter when she was coming out of the Green Room, Louise was the only person I said I really wanted to meet! We had a quick chat about my infamous Zara City Bag. She was so lovely and I really want to be her friend! I wish I had longer to chat with her as she inspired me to start my blog. Unfortunately by the time we were talking I was getting crushed by people trying to shove through to get to her and I think Louise may have been a bit overwhelmed by people screaming at her. I also met Baby Glitter who is the cutest child I have ever seen! We also met a few Content Creators that were hanging around the Main Hall over the weekend, which was great.
It probably sounds negative but I really did have a brilliant time. I'd most probably go back next year but I can only see the things that weren't that good getting worse. The amount of people will increase and I'm sure there will be bigger queues and lots more screaming! The SITC organisers mentioned it might end up similar to a festival in the way it is organised over the next five years because of how YouTube growth is happening, which is quite a weird thing to get your head around!
I love the concept of SITC, it's great to give people the opportunity to meet some of their favourite YouTubers, the chance to learn a lot from the panels and to meet other people with the same interests. However I really do find the whole YouTuber celebrity thing quite weird and the fan girls do make it a lot more intense for everyone. I came home from SITC feeling motivated to start my own channel (tiniest possibility it may happen), having found lots of new YouTubers to watch, having been in the same room as my loveeees Jack and Finn and generally having a great time. If you love YouTube definitely consider going next year!
What do you think of events like Summer In The City and the whole concept of the YouTube Celebrity?