Memorial Day weekend 1997, Disclave, a venerable and, some would say, dilapidated East Coast convention, took place at the New Carrollton Ramada Inn, a not so venerable and, all would say, dilapidated suburban Washington hotel. Dilapidation is mentioned only for the record. Human idiocy, not structural fault, was responsible for the weekend's memorable events.
Shortly after 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning, a guest in a fourth floor room, in the course of activities of dubious decency -- the convention had allowed a bondage group to share its space -- broke the ceiling fire sprinkler. It seems it had not occurred to them that a sprinkler head did not make a good place to attach restraints to. Water gushed forth, alarms sounded, and a flood poured across the floor and down the elevator shafts. Many guest rooms, the hotel lobby, the General manager's office, and the con's Green Room were soaked.
As reported in the WSFA Journal, June 1997, "The convention and hotel staffs responded well to the emergency. Disclave encouraged fans who were rousted from their beds to head to the DisCave, Disclave's con suite, which was quickly replenished with additional refreshments. Disclave also reopened the film room and began showing videos. The hotel brought in additional staff to clean up the mess and provided complimentary breakfast pastries, coffee and drinks in the lobby for guests who were inconvenienced by the flood." John Pomeranz, the president of WSFA that year, very ably led the mitigation effort.
With some changes of location, convention activities continued for the day. There were no injuries and only minor damage to personal property. The hotel ascertained that the --idiot-- person responsible for the incident was not a Disclave member, and it did not attempt to hold the convention financially liable for losses. Within a few hours, the first commemorative songs, buttons and t-shirts started to appear.
So far, it was stupidity. Now came the bad luck: That evening torrential thunderstorms swept through Washington and around 3 inches of rain fell at the hotel in a relatively brief period. The roof backed up and water leaked into the top floor rooms, and the floor of the sunken exhibit hall ("the bunker") holding the huckster room was filled with up to several inches of water as the committee and volunteers raced to move books and other stock off the floors. (The hotel did not blame the convention for the thunderstorm, but it undoubtedly added to the stress everyone felt.)
The long-term effects were more serious. Disclave 42, booked at a different hotel, was canceled just a few weeks before it was scheduled to begin. According to reliable rumor, the hotel abruptly demanded a huge security deposit after hearing distorted reports about the Flood. After that, WSFA discontinued Disclave. In 2001 it began running a new convention, Capclave.
Disclave 41 is often referred to as "Dripclave."
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