Written by Jolt Squirrel
Title image courtesy of James the Dragon
FurJam is the annual weekend furmeet for the NSW furry community. The event occurred on September 20-22, 2019. Billed as a “Con that’s not a Con”, FurJam does away with the core amenities of a furry convention such a main hotel and a dealer’s room. Rather, it is structured as a casual social gathering spread out across Sydney. From pub nights to a main outdoor event and a “Choose Your Own Adventure” on Sunday, getting out is just worth it. This year, FurJam was bigger and bolder in many respects, quite fitting that 2019 is the 15th running of this “Con not a Con”.
It all began on Friday evening at the Harlequin Inn, at least for those who are over 18. While fursuits aren’t allowed at the pub (but ears and tails are) it’s a common tradition of FurJam to visit a pub, unwind from the stresses of work, have a meal and grab some drinks with a crowd of furries. The night was marked with socializing by the boatload, zombie-themed card games, retrowave music, games of darts and the pool table all the way up until closing. All in all, a good way to get to know who’s who and meet new friends heading into the main event.
Super Squirrel makes his landing! Image courtesy of Silver Sheep.
Saturday played host to the main event at Cahill Park. The daytime event is for all ages, so bring your family along if you’ve ever wanted to see what the fascination with furry is all about. A stunning view of the Cooks River and plenty of sunshine ensured a relaxed vibe for the many furries and frolicking fursuits. Being out in the open air, more social opportunities were the order of the day. And what’s a FurJam at the park without music flying everywhere? Let me tell you, it’s rampant – from tunes being blasted out to even live music played by the famed Keytar Wolf, this is the literal definition of jam. As for company, it always feels like a treat to reunite with the furry friends you know, they always make the experience so much richer.
I got it, I got it! Image courtesy of Keio.
There are two highlights of the BBQ; the first being the Fursuit Games. Naturally, I just had to jump in on the festivities. The games played included a spoon race, Simon Says and the FurJam staple - clap and catch. Simple premise – ball gets thrown at you, clap before catching the ball and it gets progressively more difficult. The end result was played to great effect, especially when fursuiters are involved. You would be surprised that even though wearing a fursuit would make you feel handicapped, furries are quite agile and capable.
Furries: "You can't just fall over", Haha, Kat goes flop! Image courtesy of James the Dragon.
Second of these highlights is the fursuit group photo. With the Cooks River for a backdrop and plenty of sunshine, make yourself comfortable and fire up those cameras! In addition, it’s always a custom for non-fursuiters to jump in at the very end of the photos if they so wish to be a part of the picture. So don’t feel left out, find a spot and jump right in!
Get in there and dance the night away. Image courtesy of James the Dragon.
When evening rolled, all the over 18’s headed for the Rowers on Cooks River, stationed very close to Cahill Park. Note: if you’re a minor, you can attend this segment provided you have an adult supervising you. Entering the club, practically everyone was unaware the Rowers implemented a new digital sign-in system, and all of us would have to sign in with guest passes. This took quite some time, but a few cursed images and meme prints helped pass the cheer. The organisers gave us a rousing ceremonial speech to celebrate the festivities, and it was time to bring out the prizes. First is for an event-long art contest – improvise a picture given only 3 keywords. If you’ve been seeing artists hard at work scribbling at the pub or the park, you’ll know why. Second is the big draw – a prize raffle. Another FurJam custom with prizes both great and small, ranging from plushies, art commissions and for the brave winner, a totally not-dodgy box containing a mystery prize. I managed to luck out and win a Social Bingo board game, but psst. In the past I’ve managed to win a prize from the raffle from the past FurJams I’ve attended, bar one. Maybe I’m just that lucky or blessed, I dunno.
CyberJolt: Here to light up the night. Image courtesy of Curtis Kaiju.
Throughout the night, a buffet-style table filled with snack food and one free drink per attendee to claim at the bar kept the good times rolling. For a more leisurely end to the day, the club balcony provides a stunning riverside view and ample seats as furries sketched and socialized the night away. Gamers with the competitive itch played Super Smash Bros Ultimate on the big screen, no surprise given the popularity of Super Smash Bros and the Nintendo Switch at parties. Night time dances also went in full swing, and dancers, fursuit or not, stood up and got their groove on as the resident dragon DJ pumped out the tunes to get you moving. Of course I had to rock up in suit, but I did have a missed opportunity in not going full cyber with the visor early into the dances. Curse my lack of forward thinking!
A shock revelation was also made during the ceremony: FurJam had grown so big this year that at 327 attendees, the organisers had hit their limit on what FurJam could provide for the value. As a result of the turnout, the organisers believe it is high time to expand into a fully-fledged convention, and thus, Aurawra was born! The hype was real, indeed, and at that time I can tell that the furries in the room hit the pre-register button faster than you could blink. Ambitiously, the organisers also decided to continue running FurJam!
Sunday at FurJam is unique because throughout the day, there are no structured events, save for another pub night (which I didn’t get to attend) and the adventure of your choosing. Want to organize a LAN Party with the first Xbox and a group of furries? Go for it! You get the idea, the where and what is completely up to you. As for myself, there happened to be a Medieval Fair up north of Sydney which I took a great friend with me to enjoy. While it was great fun for the both of us, that is a story for another time.
Better get those fast clapping hands in motion. Image courtesy of Keio.
Overall, FurJam is always a fun-filled weekend blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. By day, I made the rounds dancing to the tunes, getting a piggy back ride while in suit and keeping the company of friends old and new alike. Of course, the people you meet are an absolute treat – approachable, fun loving and very fuzzy. If you’re starting out or just curious, FurJam is an excellent gateway into meeting furries in person and it’s made easy due to the small community vibe – less people means you won’t feel lost in a sea of furries or spend too much time looking for that one particular fursuit. Is it a fun event? Absolutely, you do need to be prepared to socialize and put yourself out there to make the most of the opportunities afforded to you. What does the future hold for these events? We shall see.