I’m a Cosplay addict. I love dressing up and creating new costumes but that wasn’t always the case. Before my first con that I “suited up” at the main draw for me at a convention was to see other people there dressed in costume, but I really never had the desire to cosplay personally.
Fast forward to now and I look for about any excuse to “suit up”, but that’s story for another time. The point is now that I enjoy cosplay and the cosplay culture it got me thinking how all this came about.
Going in I figured cosplay originated in Japan. Don’t ask me why I thought that, but for some reason my brain made that connection totally logical.
I also figured costuming for conventions was a relatively new tradition.
I was wrong on both accounts.
It looks like Worldcon is where we need to look if we want to see the origin of the modern convention.
The World Science Fiction Convention or Worldcon has been held every year since 1939 except for the years 1942 to 1945 due to World War II.
It was at Worldcon NY in 1939 that Forry Ackerman attended the convention in a “space military” styled uniform (seen above) of his own creation thus being the first documented “hall costume”. A “hall costume” is a costume that you just wear for the hell of it with no particular purpose in mind.
This started a trend that has lived up until today.
At the 1950 Worldcon the first documented “formal” contest costume masquerade took place.
It wasn’t until Worldcon 1984 in Los Angeles CA that a Japanese reporter by the name of Nov Takahashi coined the term “cosplay” by combining the words costume and play to describe all the crazy Americans in costumes.
So in truth costuming, as a hobby, has been around since at least 1939 and has evolved into what we consider the modern “cosplay” of today.
That is my history lesson for today boys and girls. So next time you “suit up” just know you are a member of a long running tradition that seems to be limited only by the imagination.
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