When the Winds of the Moon belly dance troupe performs at the Long Island Tropic Con: Outdoor Summer Market in Massapequa, the group sways to unconventional belly dance music: themes from video games Luigi’s Mansion and The Legend of Zelda.
They’ve tailored their performance to their audience. Tropic Con brings video game, animé, cosplay, comic book, sci-fi and pop culture enthusiasts to the outdoor event at the Sunrise Mall, with three remaining weekends — July 24 and 25 and Aug. 14, 15, 28 and 29.
Tropic Con launched indoors at the Melville Marriott in 2019, drawing 1,000 fans to the one-day event. The pandemic caused it to be nixed in person in 2020, and organizers this year decided to hold the event outdoors over four weekends to be as safe as possible, says Patrick Madden, president and event director. The event is called Tropic Con because it was founded by Madden, who is known for his tropical shirts, he says. "We’re a pop-culture paradise," he jokes.
More than 120 artists and vendors are scheduled, some of them on each day and others on only specific dates. "No two days will be the same," Madden says. There are also craft and story-time activities for children and food trucks selling refreshments, and cosplay is highly encouraged, he says.
Priscilla Thompson, 17, a rising high school senior from East Patchogue, attended the first July weekend dressed as the Hello Kitty character Twilight Sparkle. "It was fun. It was nice to seeing familiar faces from other conventions," she says. She plans to return on another date.
Here’s a sampling of the entertainment, vendors and artists attendees can expect to encounter.
Entertainment: Alyssa "Willow" Brown, 30, a dance instructor from East Northport, runs Winds of the Moon, a local belly dance troupe made up of four women who do bring aspects of different cultures into their performances. The group performs sword dancing and hoop dancing. The troupe will be at Tropic Con every day, performing several times through the afternoons.
Artists: Peter Vazquez 47, of Brentwood, creates pinup posters. He is selling prints of his work and also drawing at the show. His tents displays about 20 to 25 of his paintings.
Cosplay: Liz Vazquez, 35, who works in marketing and graphic design and is Peter Vazquez’s sister, is doing cosplay meet and greets using her nickname, Rizuki. She's attending as a different character each day of the event, most of them animé inspired. Her costumes have included the pink ranger from "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and Sailor Moon Sailor Stars — Sailor Star Fighter/Seiya Kou. Some people who embrace cosplay love acting, some use it to meet friends, others like crafting and sewing their outfits, she says. "For me, cosplay is a hobby. It’s something I enjoy besides my 9 to 5," she says. Attendees will be able to sign up for a virtual contest at her booth; it will be held the final weekend of Tropic Con, she says.
Comic Books: Cosmic Comics and Games of Baldwin helped sponsor the event and is offering collectible and newer comic books each weekend. On Aug. 28, owner/president Chuck Baglivio says he will be giving out a free comic book to each attendee.
Trading Cards: Collectible cards from Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-O and sports will be available for purchase. Seller Jon Lacker, 29, of Wantagh, says he’ll be bringing "as much as I can fit in my car every day of the show."
Video Games: Video Game Trading Post, with stores in Levittown and Massapequa, is bringing Nintendo, Game Cube and other vintage and brand new games. "We’re going to bring a little piece of the store to Tropic Con," says Video Game Trading Post owner Mike Burd. Since the Massapequa store is inside Sunrise Mall, attendees can also check out the selection there. "People are itching to go back to the conventions and the expos," Burd says. "It’s just going to be a party all weekend."
Long Island Tropic Con: Outdoor Summer Market
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 24 and 25 and Aug. 14, 15, 28 and 20
COST $3 single day, $5 weekend and $15 summer season pass for all eight days. Only single day passes may be purchased at the door.