Leviosa 2019: A Weekend of Magic
Witches and wizards from all over the country made their way to Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, California, to attend Leviosa 2019. It was a magical weekend full of festivities, intense Potter discussion, and some seriously stylish wizard fashion. Guests had the chance to meet a plethora of special guests: Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood), some of the team behind A Very Potter Musical, including Jeff Blim, Joe Moses, Dylan Saunders, Jaime Lyn Beatty, and Brian Rosenthal, authors Lorrie Kim (Snape: A Definitive Reading) and Irvin Khaytman (The Life and Lies of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore), and more. In this article, the MuggleNet staff members who attended have highlighted some of their favorite moments.
Leviosa 2019’s panels were a Hogwarts-tier feast for any attendees who desired a thorough analysis of the books. Nancee Lee-Allen led a session on using the Potter books as a tool to combat the stigma of mental illness, and Adriana Wilson of MuggleNet’s Accio Politics hosted a panel on how to find inspiration for real-world community organizing and resistance based on what we see in the wizarding world. Between discussions like these, bonding over Potter games and puzzles in the common room, and wandering out into the world to play Wizards Unite with new friends, Leviosa 2019 made it clear that the love and magic of the Potter books still run strong through our fandom.
The thing that I enjoyed most about Leviosa 2019 was how tight-knit the attendees, panelists, and organizers already were. Rather than experiencing that and having that feel like gatekeeping, it was really like being brought into the fold of a family reunion. I made connections with others that I certainly wasn’t expecting to find, as someone who had flown from Canada for the convention, and I enjoyed getting to know many Harry Potter fans who are much older than myself – especially since the fandom is often thought of as encompassing the Millennial generation. Our keynote panel, 20 Years of Fandom with MuggleNet, also showed me just how diverse all our connections to the fandom and to the franchise have been over the past two decades.
I am so happy that my first-ever convention experience was Leviosa. What I enjoyed most was attending panels and having deep, thoughtful conversations with people who take Harry Potter as seriously as I do. We talked about the conflict between canon and fandom and the importance of being a critical consumer of Potter content. We talked about the nuances of Dumbledore, Snape, and Draco Malfoy, and Lorrie Kim, the author of Snape: A Definitive Reading, even convinced me not to hate Snape! We talked about strong female characters with amazing YA authors, and we talked about the connections between Harry Potter and mental health. But it wasn’t all academic discussions; we also partied hard with Kalysta Flame, an outstanding wrock artist, at the Yule Ball!
There’s something so one-on-one about Leviosa that you’ll never get at a large-scale convention. It reminded me of my college’s Muggles Association, where a dinner conversation could go from debating the Fantastic Beasts films to discussing Good Omens or our opinions on live-action Disney films. Team StarKid’s intimate roundtable Q&A session was my highlight – the actors talked all things A Very Potter Musical, from their first shows at the University of Michigan to how the play became such a viral sensation. The Vendor Room could also give Diagon Alley a run for its Galleons. There was so much unique, fanmade merchandise you couldn’t get at a gift shop, such as a Niffler-shaped purse, winged key earrings, or even House-colored tea cozies! I also cohosted Fandom Feud, a Family Feud-style game using 300+ surveys from our fans. It was fun to see how Potter fans responded and agreed on the topics.