To be honest I wasn’t going to write about my trip to Birmingham and the Vaper Expo, but having now had a chance to reflect and sleep on the occasion I’ve changed my mind. There are few things I want to go over, most of it good and some of it not so good, all my opinion of course!
When my alarm went off at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, I wasn’t quite sure what to feel. Nervous, excited, dread, a combination of all? Whilst I had made the effort to get to Harrogate a few weeks ago, Vaper Expo had far more publicity in comparison and many folks on all social media platforms had been discussing the event for weeks.
Compared to the E-Cigarette Expo, this one was huge.
Two and half hours after the dreaded “beep beep, beep beep” of my hellish alarm clock I found myself, and my friend who set me on the path of vaping, standing in the queue waiting to get in. There were already a fair number of folks waiting an hour before the doors officially opened at 10 AM. The queue in the picture was those wise enough to have pre-booked their tickets, just around the corner was a much shorter queue for those that just turned up on the day.
This is kind of where the dread set in, I can be patient when I need to be, but I really hate waiting in queues which is typically un-British of me. My friend had been tasked with delivering some t-shirts, caps and some other vaping supplies to others and so we were laden with boxes and bags naturally, until my friend received a phone call. I’ll admit, we queue jumped from around the corner to approximately 10-20 metres from the front door, but no-one seemed to mind.
It is always nice meeting other vapers, and the few that I met through my friend were really friendly. In fact everybody I met during the day were brilliant and really friendly. I have no idea if that is because we are all united by vaping, or whether vaping attracts a certain kind of personality; bears further study or not!
I’ll be honest, I was tempted to chuckle at those on the right as they hadn’t pre-booked tickets, but then that would have been thoroughly mean of me. The overall feeling whilst waiting outside was more like an extended family reunion rather than a large group of widely varied folks with a single common interest.
Saw this guy a lot on my meanderings around the show, I did kind of feel sorry for him later in the day as the hall did get pretty warm despite the organisers having all the exit doors wide open.
Having this guy suddenly appear behind you when you least expect it is definitely unnerving, but also kind of fun in a weird way. The whole vaping robot thing did just add a finishing touch to the event.
There is plenty to talk about from the show, and it was great to see that Totally Wicked had made the effort not just to have a stand to sell stuff, but to also devote a lot of their stand to the Article 20 Legal Challenge. I didn’t see anyone actually signing to support the challenge, but I have been reliably informed from the chaps from Vapourtrails.tv that they had some sign on their stand which is always good.
I did spot Fraser Cropper talking to Dave Dorn on my first tour of the event but didn’t want to interrupt the intense discussion they were having, but it was good to see Fraser there and talking with many vapers both about sales and about the legal challenge being brought about by Totally Wicked.
I was a little green with envy seeing that TW had the Evolution VT60 (Evic VT) on sale for 50% off the TW web price having bought one myself ahead of the E-Cigarette Expo in Harrogate, oh well you win some and you lose some.
I had already decided to not visit the VTTV stand as often as I had at ECE, mainly because I didn’t want my ugly mug to be featured too heavily in any videos they put together but I also wanted to get my hands dirty and actually talk to vendors as well as meeting members of my Twitter #VapeFam that were going to be there.
As I’m normally a shy type of person, getting involved in an advocacy discussion whilst at an event like this is pretty difficult, not to mention nerve-wracking. Sadly one vendor, and I can’t remember who it was now, turned a little hostile towards me when I started talking about the TPD which was hugely disappointing, especially as most of them were more than happy to talk and exchange details. Compared with reports of others from ECE, the number of vendors that were aware of the TPD at the Vaper Expo was pleasing, not only that but a number of them had already added their support to the TW Challenge! Bonus!
I do need to have a little moan though. Why for the love of the Gods did there need to be scantily clad women wondering around? Admittedly it was far less than VapeJam but even so it isn’t needed. I absolutely abhor that vendors use sex to sell their product, as such I won’t buy anything from those vendors. But to see it at a show? Just stop it. It’s not needed, it reflects badly on the community as a whole and even worse it reflects badly on the women that advocate for us. I do appreciate that sex sells, and it is a draw for most men but really? Do you think that because a device is being held or presented alongside female flesh that I’m going to buy it? I stayed well away from the one stand that had these ladies, not out of some high minded idealism but because it made me uncomfortable. It’s not that I’m adverse to seeing women like that, I’m not, I appreciate all female forms, I just don’t like the impression that this kind of thing gives, especially in this community.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against women that want to do that kind of work it is after all what they want to do, but I do take issue with it where it is most definitely not needed, and an exhibition for vaping is definitely not it.
There were a few other non-advocacy related highlights, aside from nearly bowling VapeMeStoopid over a few minutes after the doors opened, it was only because I was so excited to finally meet her and give her the big hug I’d been promising for months, I got to meet Mark & Rose, Jill (briefly), Judy (omg you are lovely!), Simon (you really are quiet and reserved!), I saw (but didn’t get to say hello to) Matt, I waved to Dave Dorn, said hello to Dave Kitson and Marco (please tell me I wasn’t on video!), but there were two folks that really put the cherry on top for me.
Dimitris and Phil. Their talk on advocacy was just awesome, not to mention inspirational. I could literally have stood there all day and listened to these two. I do sincerely hope that their words on advocacy, and their encouragement to support TW sunk in with those that listened. These two gave their time freely to any and all that sought them out, and they spent plenty of time on questions asked by the crowd. As always in that kind of situation my mind was completely blank so I didn’t ask any questions, couldn’t even think of anything to ask them in a one on one situation either so I did the best thing.
I thanked them. Being a vaper, means I’m no longer tied to smoking, and that (having looked back on my journey so far) means an awful lot to me personally. I thanked both Phil & Dimitris in person for what they do, even though they haven’t been directly responsible for me being a vaper, they are indirectly responsible. Thanks to the efforts of Phil & Dimitris, along with all the other advocates and supporters, vaping hasn’t just saved my life it has changed my life.
My only regret is that I didn’t seek them out earlier in the day and really sit and chat with them, but even just listening to their talk and the all-too-brief one-on-one time I had was enough. Dimitris, Phil thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do, for taking the time to come to the UK and sharing your passion with us, and most of all taking the time to talk to me.
Everything above that line is the actual post, all that follows is a plea for support, if you can donate all the better:
The time to fight is now, help stop the crazy proposals in Wales: