TanaCon was a YouTube Creator convention hosted by YouTuber Tana Mongeau and organised by the Good Times company. Its sole purpose? To rival VidCon.
Thousands left in the California summer sun for hours to burn. Tens of thousands of money scammed, and even more spent for the event. A hotel lobby packed way over its capacity limit. Rioters outside dehydrated, disappointed, desperate to be let in.
If this all sounds like some kind of horror story, that’s because it is. TanaCon was a huge disaster of gigantic proportions, and one that nobody had ever seen before of this nature.
Three months ago, YouTuber Tana Mongeau released a video called “Why I won’t be attending VidCon 2018: A Rant” in which she ranted about her problems with the YouTube convention VidCon.
Her main gripe with the convention was that in previous years she had been refused the “Featured Creator” badge, which would have given her private security and access to panels, as opposed to wandering around the grounds to be swarmed by her fans (consequently leading to her being banned by VidCon to attend further events).
As a giant ‘middle finger’ to YouTube, Tana decided that she would host a new convention (TanaCon), one that was better organised than VidCon and focused on stronger values (such as the relationship between online creators and fans).
She promised fans cheaper tickets than VidCon, as well as more opportunities to meet and greet their idols in a more affordable manner. As a matter of fact, she announced a bit later that she had already organised several renowned guests, including actress Bella Thorne and YouTube icon Shane Dawson (we’ll come back to him later).
These VIP tickets would also come with several special privileges, including a goodie bag that was “quadruple the price of the ticket” according to Tana, who would later go on to say that they were meant to have various branded cosmetic products.
once this first drop of free tickets are gone, we’ll have a few more because i want lots of ppl to have a chance to snag them. the paid ticket offers line skipping, a gift bag worth more than quadruple the price of the whole ticket, private meet and greets & a few more surprises
— Tana Mongeau (@tanamongeau) May 26, 2018
Fast forward to the weekend of June 22-23 and we are greeted with what turned out to be a massive disaster.
Thousands packed into a hotel lobby that was only supposed to fit a thousand. And as can be expected when you shove four or five thousand teenagers (who paid hundreds to come to the event) into a small hotel, chaos ensued outside.
People started chanting and rioting for refunds or to be let in, before the summer heat got to them, leaving many dehydrated and sunburnt. Those who did get in told of how the hotel lobby was completely empty, and when security urged event-goers to keep walking, the entire event just ended up being one long line.
I wasted 150 dollars on #tanacon , it’s one hallway, one big concert room, and no activities. No creators are walking around like promised. We stood outside for 4 hours, just to be treated like animals. pic.twitter.com/WlgiSvHqFs
— ?????? (@Lovely_asf) June 22, 2018
To add fuel to the fire, the supposedly high-value VIP goodie bag ended up being nothing more than some lousy stickers and a TanaCondom.
— MessyMonday (@MESSYMONDAY) June 22, 2018
Reports have come in that there were some events being held, including a wedding and a show that happened in one of the rooms, but that happiness was ultimately short-lived when the event became a safety hazard.
What really annoys me is how they oversold tickets. The Anaheim Marriott Suites (where the event was held) explicitly states on its website that the maximum capacity was around 1,000 people. In footage that would be revealed later on, both Tana and Michael Weist (CEO of Good Times) acknowledged this fact and continued to sell more tickets over the limit.
“People love to be oppressed outside.” – Tana Mongeau 2018 (Source: Shane Dawson’s The Truth About TanaCon)
When the event started to burn up, Tana talked about the supposed 15,000 to 20,000 guests that showed up out of nowhere, despite the fact that authorities later confirmed that only around 4,000-5,000 were actually at the event.
This is later confirmed by reports of how much money was actually made from VIP tickets, which was $325,000 (5000 tickets sold).
So not only did they oversell tickets way past the hotel’s capacity, both organisers have refused to be honest about how many people actually turned up to the event.
What we have here is a case of two (very) young adults going way over their head.
Both Tana and Michael, pictured below, are in their early 20s (20 and 21 respectively) and they had huge ambitions to make TanaCon a working convention.
I don’t believe that any of them wanted to sabotage this event intentionally, but ultimately it was the attitude and mentality that led both of them to be so reckless and disorganised (bit of an understatement perhaps).
Not only was this event something that neither of them had ever done before, but Tana wanted the event to rival VidCon, making an emphasis that the event was to be held on the same weekend and in the same area as VidCon (just down the road).
Weist expressed his concerns with these requirements, particularly with the fact that that would only give them two months to plan the event, as opposed to the entire year that VidCon uses. And this limited schedule for planning on top of their zero experience was just one giant equation of disaster.
We see this lack of organisation in almost every aspect of the event. Despite the fact that Tana (claims she) told Michael to have adequate security at the venue, there was only a measly 25 security guards in attendance, which is shocking when you compare it to the 450 guards that were in attendance at VidCon 2016 (according to an Article by Variety).
When you combine the lack of security with the overflow of teenagers either cramped into a hotel lobby or stuck in the summer sun outside, it is near-on a miracle that nothing serious happened. There have even been reports and videos online that have surfaced where guests are panicking because they think a shooter entered the venue.
— Phil Shaw ? (@PhilShaw) June 22, 2018
Of course, that’s not to say nothing bad happened.
Many of the guests have turned to the internet to express their disappointment with TanaCon. What was supposed to be a fun, cheap and better alternative to VidCon ended up in ruins, with many severely burnt or dehydrated from standing outside for hours.
In one instance, the paramedics were even called in to escort a young girl away from the venue as she cried on the stretchers.
On the other end of this, all 5000 guests also lost financially. Disregarding the $65 VIP tickets that were basically worthless and a scam, many had travelled interstate or even overseas to see some of their favourite creators, meaning that the $325,000 spent by guests doesn’t include flights or accommodation.
In Shane Dawson’s recent three-part documentary series about TanaCon, he reveals that Good Times signed a contract with the ticketing company that if anything bad happened, the ticketing company would keep the profits and refunds would be made out of Good Times’ own money.
Now, as to why Michael Weist would ever sign something like this, I have no idea. All I know is that Good Times isn’t some massive multi-billion dollar company with investors or insurance. Good Times is a company founded and run by CEO Michael Weist (a 21 year old).
So not only does Michael have to find some way to refund $325,000 to all 5000 guests, he could even be held liable for civil damages which would drive him deeper into the ground. Maybe it really was all just one giant scam.
Now, let’s talk about these VIP tickets.
One thing that really confuses me (above this entire nonsense) is the ticketing.
Tana said that VIP tickets were $65 and they would allow for special privileges, including meet and greets, cutting lines, and the goodie bags. This was also offered alongside free tickets where people could book in and attend for absolutely free.
Seems like a bargain, especially when you compare that to VidCon’s prices.
However, when we cut back to what actually happened, we find that these VIP passes were rendered invalid. It was reported that guests could just turn up and tell staff that they were VIP, which meant that everyone had a VIP pass on the day. There wasn’t a separate line between VIP and non-paying guests. As a matter of fact, some guests had even claimed that many of the people that actually got in the venue were non-paying, meaning that people who did pay were left outside to burn.
Personally, I’m unclear on what exactly happened here. How many bought VIP tickets and how many booked free tickets? Were there even free passes?
All I do know is that you can’t be a VIP when everyone else is a VIP. And as we have learnt from childhood favourite Pixar movie The Incredibles, when everyone is special, no one is.
I think among all this pandemonium, there are a few really important lessons to learn here.
For one, greed and vengeance never lead to anything good. This might actually be the most textbook definition of this that we have seen recently.
In an attempt to ‘one-up’ VidCon, Tana planned to host her own convention that was bigger, better and more engaging than VidCon. She had all these plans and promises which may have had some sliver of good intentions, but the fact that she even tried to have it on the same weekend and in the same area as VidCon just adds to the point that she was just trying to steal the spotlight from VidCon.
Shane Dawson even admits this to her, saying that if she had gone about this in the right mindset, she would have been more committed to make the event better and not go out partying with her friends on the same weekend when her convention was burning up (yes, she actually went to a party the first night. When many of the guests went back to their hotels crying and burnt, she went to a party).
— heidy? (@heiiidddyyy) June 22, 2018
You can’t possibly organise an event of this scale in a matter of months. And to make things worse, she had neither the expertise nor the experience in doing such a thing. When you combine her with a slightly older Michael Weist, you end up with TanaCon. One giant safety hazard.
There was so much that went wrong in the planning stage that ultimately resulted in this mess. We can’t pinpoint one specific party or one aspect for the convention that was lacking because every single aspect needed to be worked on. Organisation was a mess, expectations were not met, time was incredibly limited.
And when you put all these things together, you’d be a fool to expect anything other than one giant disaster.
At the end of the day, TanaCon happened and there’s nothing that can undo that.
Mistakes were made (really bad mistakes) and both Tana and Michael Weist are going to have to live with that guilt, starting with the appropriate refunds that are hopefully made to the guests.
Apparently all the event has done to Tana’s channel since is gaining more subscribers every day, which is a little bit disappointing.
I’d like to stay optimistic and think that neither of them intentionally wanted to screw everyone over.
Since more and more information is slowly being released online, one can only hope that Mongeau or Weist make the appropriate actions to make it up to fans.