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Dhaka Summer Con 2023, an event that came like thunder and made an example for the pop culture scene whether good or bad can be debated. As for me, I may have witnessed a jumbled-up mess in the setting of a supposed groundbreaking convention.     

They promised to deliver the biggest pop culture event of the country thus far and they lived up to it in terms of sheer size and spectacle. Spanning across two halls of Bashundhara Group’s ICCB and three days of mid-July from its 13th till the 15th, MediaQuest’s Dhaka Summer Con 2023 was truly a momentous occasion. However, could its scale have also been a detriment to its success?

Dhaka Summer Con 2023 – Grandest Stage To Date?

A rumored sixty lakh taka budget with sponsorships from current market heavy hitters of the local food and beverages industry Polar and Brüvana as well as partnerships with Texcent, Codixel, Get Set Rock, Mobile Legends Bang Bang and Battle Knights, Dhaka Summer Con 2023 was certainly a massive affair, conducting cosplay competitions in three separate categories – kids, group and solo – with a total prize pool of five lakhs, boasting over a hundred participants! Nonetheless, they would be performing for an audience of a scanty few.

The first-ever multi-day pop culture event of the nation following the COVID lockdowns – Dhaka POP and Cosplay Fest – was undoubtedly a major bust. Dhaka Summer Con was the second to make the category and compared to the aforementioned, did remarkably better, but one could be ordering shots of piss and tonic during happy hour because that bar is in the goddamn toilet!

For all the talk of elevating the platform going around among the leaders of the community, Dhaka Summer Con, to its credit, managed to pull off the feat in quite the literal sense. Unfortunately, for the bulk of its duration, that platform was virtually abandoned as an afterthought.

Dhaka Summer Con 2023 Theme Song ‘Escape’

Dhaka Summer Con 2023 – Breaking the Mold

“The stage should never be left empty” is somewhat of an unspoken rule for any event featuring one and yet, it seems the management of Dhaka Summer Con 2023 opted to really push the envelope, playing by their own rules: “The stage should seldom be occupied unless absolutely unnecessary.” Therefore, for the most part, the audience was compelled to be entertained by an assemblage of titanic speakers and screens broadcasting advertisements on a loop.

Wait a minute! Was this a ploy by the higher-ups to assure none of the attention would be taken away from their brands and products? I know I definitely was tempted after the umpteenth commercial for Active Ice Lolly to grab a stick from the nearby stall until the lady tending it recommended, I should go for a Robusto instead.

My suggestion? Try them both out and let us know what you think in the comments. I would also like to give a shoutout to the wonderful folks in catering who contributed alongside the ice cream crew as the only interactive experience the event had to offer. The remainder of it was just… not much.

Let us return to Dhaka POP and Cosplay Fest for a second. Yes, I get you don’t want to. I don’t either, but humor me kindly: the stage was broken and smelled of sewage, the décor was unfinished and amenities were utterly nonexistent. Despite all of that, at least they still had Red Hood’s Revenge, the shooting game with Gotham’s rogues gallery.

Moving on to AnimeCon, they always have their mainstays such as goldfish scooping and the fighting game tournament which was a part of Spooky Halloween Night at Chef’s Table Courtside 2022’s catalogue of attractions as well, coupled with the inspired Fortune Telling table. So even if nothing was occurring on-stage, attendants still had a lot to do beyond loitering about, browsing shops peddling merchandise until digging themselves into debt for the next three months; Summer Con was relatively lacking.

Day 2, for instance, opened with a special rendition of DC’s Elseworld: Injustice saga, authored and performed by Fahim Alam, supported by a star-studded cast of recurring popular names such as Zunaid Mashrafee, Nawshin Nawmee, Ahmed Zidan Chowdhury, Jannatul Adhon Chika, Kh Hamza, Ridhwan Parvez Shayokh, Sazzad Royale, Samira Jahan and Faitshha Tumassba. Then, they were followed by… dead air for the next two hours.

It is mind-boggling that pioneers of Bangladesh’s manga creator scene, Shantona and Shantuma – founders of Manga Stage – were invited but not given their due fanfare, quietly pushed aside to a corner amid t-shirt stands. Prominent K-pop dancers Monishi Chakma and Nayeem Rahman, too, voiced complaints regarding the maladministration of their schedules. The absence of a host to rile up the crowd and act as a moderator for panel discussions further dampened the vibe.

Somebody better call Mr Ariful Haque for Dhaka Winter Con 2023!

Dhaka Summer Con 2023
Dhaka Summer Con 2023

Dhaka Summer Con 2023 Spirals Into SummerSlam!

Alas, I’d be wary to answer the phone if I were him with videos of the now infamous riot going viral. Catching a break with – as of me writing this – the champions of the group cosplay competition Edriko Rickson, AkiraCos and Samio Ahmed Sahil, I had the unnerving opportunity of watching it live, narrowly making our way back into the building before security shut all the gates, averting disaster.

What happened? Well, before I issue my reply to that question, allow me to ask one myself: how many of you, like me, thought the concert and the convention were collectively a singular event? I can tell there were enough to rally a mob and topple a few barricades. Bouncers were hurt and batons were swung.

The situation was dire. Some even fetched bricks and bamboo to shatter through the glass walls. Why? Because they had been sold tickets to the convention when they wanted to purchase tickets to the concert. I guess requesting a refund was beyond the scope of possibilities.

The resulting chaos was solely the fault of the aggressors, yes, but event promoters could have arguably done a better job of clarifying the matter in the weeks preceding it. The ticket price for being able to visit both the concert and the convention together could have been lower than the prices of separate tickets for each combined. Alternatively, band performances could have simply been slotted in between the other stage segments to eliminate the prolonged idle intervals.

Overall, a commendable debut leaving much to be desired a week prior to that of AniManga Carnival who might capitalize on Dhaka Summer Con’s shortcomings to steal their thunder. Meanwhile, we have AnimeCon vying for a revival in Chittagong this August and that of Mazecon coming in September.

Gauntlets are being thrown and the game is heating up. Will Anime Expo soon join the fray? Could DHAKA COMICON make a surprise resurgence? Stay tuned and find out, because you can bet we will have the latest blow-by-blow coverage here at Deshi Geek! And, on that note check out my feature on the upcoming AnimeCon Chattogram 2023!



Just another cluster of stardust tracing footprints upon the sand in the hourglass, a vain reach to grasp eternity. “We’re all stories in the end… Stories are where memories go when they’re forgotten.” — Doctor Who

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