Youmacon Hosts and Fans Criticze Ren Cen Ban on Masks, Mock Weapons

October 25, 2014, 1:51 PM by  Alan Stamm

Attention, scary guests coming to a 10th annual Detroit event:

Masks and mock weapons aren't allowed in the front lobby, food court or Winter Garden of GM's headquarters, Renaissance Center managers say.

The heads-up is for participants in Youmacon, a celebration of Japanese pop culture at the adjacent Marriott Hotel. The event, which also uses Cobo Center, runs Thursday night through Sunday. "The event is one of the fastest-growing fan conventions in the United States," the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau says in a blog post. .

Tighter-than-usual restrictions on costumes come as a surprise to conference administrators, they say at the event website:

We are disappointed that the management of the GM Renaissance Center has chosen to enforce this policy, which impacts many of the 15,000+ international, out-of-state and local visitors Youmacon brings to the city of Detroit – without having a dialogue with us to express and address any concerns they may have regarding our event. . . .

We had questions and asked for clarification several times. Unfortunately we have not received any clarification on these new policies, nor any official communication from the GM Renaissance Center management -- outside of a post on Twitter a few days ago. We can only assume what the scope of this policy is.

Ren Cen and GM guards will keep people with mock guns and facemask helmets from public areas beyond the Marriott hotel during a  four-day event next week.

It's a big deal because some attendees dress as Star Wars storm troopers, masked ninjas, galactic warriors and other characters with replica swords, sabers or laser guns. The event's main hotel relayed this policy covering areas past the Marriott:

The building code of conduct is no facial mask covering the entire face and no simulated weapons that can be construed as real by an employee or tenant.

These guidelines are for all GM and public areas of the facility and does not have jurisdiction in the hotel domain”. 

That essentially means meal breaks can be taken only at the hotel or Cobo, unless those with banned costumes stash ersatz weapons and masks to visit Ren Cen restaurants. "Really don't want to have to trek to my car and back just to get a damn cheeseburger or some General Tso's chicken," Justin Jolliff of Sterrling Heights, who plans to dress as a soldier. gripes on Facebook.    

Hosts learned of the ban just over a week ago via this tweet from the hotel, they say:

An Oct., 17 reply to a critic at the GM Ren Cen page on Facebook says the ban is "in the interest of preventing false concerns and for the safety of all in the Renaissance Center."  

Steven Reed, who's coming from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, previewed his look Friday at Youmacon group on Facebook.

That's a change from policies toward Youmacon guests at other places, the group's site notes:

For a decade we’ve worked closely with our venues, contractors, unions, sponsors, cities and various businesses around our events to ensure a fun and safe weekend for everyone involved. ...

Youmacon already has strict guidelines on what is and is not acceptable for cosplay accessories, such as no “live steel” as an example. 

Participants, who'll pay $60 for a three-day pass, express annoyance at an event Facebook group and at the GM Ren Cen page on that social media site, These are among reactions:

  • If I dress up like a character from -- let's say -- steetfight,.would my fist be considered weapons? -- Dixie Boggess​, Auburn Hills
  • We can't even take our props to the food court? That's BULLSHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT. -- Justin Jolliff, Sterling Heights
  • This just gives me another reason not to like GM. -- Todd Wright, Madison Heights 
  • That's kind of ridiculous. They've hosted the con in past years and should know . . . by now that masks and weapons are integral to most cosplays. -- Kara Blair, Troy
  • Will you also be enforcing it upon Muslim women who wear burqas? They scare me much more than some people in costumes. -- Matthew Wells
  • I am disappointed with the staff of GM Ren Cen. . . .  For you to create rules, tweet about it and not discuss it with Youmacon is childish. . . . There are passionate people who take months or years creating art pieces to share, and for these rules to be announced just weeks before the even is outrageous. -- Floyd Willis

Earlier coverage at Deadline:

Let The Games Begin: Youmacon Convention Marks 10th Year in Detroit, Oct. 9 

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