Get Ready for BlerDCon

The multicultural cosplay, sci-fi, gaming and geekfest returns to Crystal City July 12-14.

There will be cosplay contests, gaming tournaments and anime screenings; a food truck rally and “Find My Geekquel” speed dating. And don’t be surprised if you see a few manga characters, Wakanda warriors and Mortal Kombat heroes flossing on the streets of what’s soon to become Amazon’s National Landing.

BlerDCon returns to the Hyatt Regency Crystal City July 12-14.

“Blerd”—a portmanteau of “black” and “nerd”—culture will be in full force at the three-day conference, which promises workshops on everything from cosplay costume thrifting and body positivity to queer, black and trans representation in pop culture and comics.


The event is the brainchild of founder Hilton George, an avowed comic book aficionado who works in the local nonprofit sector and originally got into the convention scene as a cosplayer. “It’s not just about wearing a costume but becoming the character for the entire time I’m in the suit,” explains George, whose past personas of choice have included Lord Raiden (Mortal Kombat) and Deadpool.

Though he never found the sci-fi and gaming communities unwelcoming, George says he always felt the speaker rosters at gaming and cosplay events could use more diversity. So he decided to launch his own show. The first Blerdcon was held in 2017.

Blerdcon’s celebrity headliners are people of color and members of other marginalized groups—including people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community—though organizers say it’s all about inclusivity. Anyone who loves “the same nerddom” is welcome to attend.

This year’s headliners include Star Trek and anime voice actor Beau Billingslea (of Digimon and Cowboy Bebop fame); actress Rachel True (Half Baked, The Craft); Martial artist Shaina “Samuraider” West; and Grammy-winning singer Estelle (known for the 2011 hit single “American Boy”), who has also gained fans for her voiceover work on the animated show Stephen Universe on Cartoon Network.

Social media, George says, has made it easier for members of the blerd world to find each other. “You used to be able to only connect with your neighborhood and that rule applies for black and brown people too,” he says. Now, “more blerds are sharing online and at conventions. We’ve been communicating our interests so there’s been a real change. The idea is that any individual who feels marginalized and underrepresented sees what we do and feels more comfortable and more hopeful about their own visibility.”

Tickets can be purchased as full weekend passes, or a la carte for specific events. For details visit


Categories: Arts & Entertainment