Rocking the University Bookstore amid hordes of wizards and muggles waiting until midnight, passing the time with butter beer, potion making, quiddich trials, and other merriment. [#]
We arrived at the University Bookstore too late to catch the train from a makeshift platform 9 ¾, but on arrival we were greeted by a fog machine a wizard with a stuffed owl perched atop his bowler’s cap handing out a Marauder’s Map to guide us through a makeshift Diagon Alley spread over the three stories.
Our first stop was to head upstairs for a dose of WizRockStock where the Parselmouths were playing to an already sizeable crowd and occasionally slipping into hissing parseltongue lyrics. Tiny children in wizard robes, draped with snakes, or carrying stuffed cats lined the front of the audience and seemed to know the words to every song (subjects ranged from the horrors of accepting dates with Crabbe & Goyle, having parents with cool tattoos, the fun of kicking around house elves, unrequited crushes on werewolf dark arts teachers,) interrupting their banter with shouts of approval when their favorites came up on the set list. When the set concluded, many rushed to get hugs from the pink-clad Slytherin girl rockers.
Perhaps the band accounted for the surprising number of Slytherin wandering the bookstore (or maybe Seattle is just home to an usual number of the much-maligned house of pure-blooded snobs): green and silver paraphernalia may have even outnumbered the Gryffindor red and gold! Maybe given the bookish nature of the crowd, the popularity of Luna Lovegood-inspired radish earrings and cork necklaces as accessories to Ravenclaw attire probably should have been expected. In the upstairs Honeydukes Café, free cookies, pretzels, Capri Sun and a very odd-smelling punch were available and provided plenty of floor space for people to show off their costumes and sit on the floor while re-reading previous volumes.
I had a pre-reserved British edition of the book on its way from Canada, but with all of the buzz in the store I decided that waiting for international Owls would be too unbearable and quickly pre-purchased an American copy before they closed the orders at eleven.
Consistently long lines surrounded the fifth-year potion making workshop at the Apothecary, where a very Snape-like employee taught eager pupils the finer points of slime making. Across the hall people queued at the Leaky Cauldron for sips of Butter Beer (butterscotch-infused French sodas – sadly free of alcohol) and Pumpkin Juice (a very sweet sort of yogurt smoothie concoction). Between bands, opportunities for the artistic included stations to make bookmarks; weave wants from pipe cleaners, straws, and sparkly garland; design book covers (though none matched the ingenuity of one Slytherin teen’s home-made fanged Care of Magical creatures textbook being used as a purse). The more athletic could run Quidditch time trials by navigating a broom through an obstacle course while balancing a quaffle on a spoon. Those seeking photographic evidence of their participation could grab a Polaroid of themselves inserted in a Harry Potter movie poster. All of these stops earned a stamp on a “Horcrux Passport” which, when completed, was worth a shot at a muggle iPod.
The documentary filmmakers of the Wizard Rockumentary: a movie about Rocking and Rowling patrolled the premises, capturing all of the fun on video.
Later, Ashland-based Wizard Rock[abilly] act Fierenze and the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest brought a little more excitement with an appearance to an increasingly packed house; particularly when they played a cover (yes, Wizard Rock bands play covers!) of the Harry and the Potters smash hit “Save Ginny Weasley”. I may have jumped around uncontrollably with glee at this point in the evening.
As the clock approached midnight, the crowd thickened and began to form long winding lines through the store and up the stairs, abandoning Switchblade Kittens (performing as the Weird Sisters – the least inspired of all of the wizard rock, in my opinion) to prepare the receive their pre-reserved copies of the book.
Despite being near the end of the line, book retrieval went incredibly fast and smoothly. A quick countdown to midnight and the line snaked through a quick tour of kid lit, sci fi, and then to a table lined with hundreds of copies of Deathly Hallows being handed off with proof of purchase. After all the build-up being presented with a book and shuffling out into the night seemed a bit anticlimactic, although seeing others clutching their purchases, trying to restrain themselves from reading (or even worse: skipping to the last pages!) while walking on the sidewalks at midnight was a pretty great sight.