Torchsong Chicago

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Torchsong Chicago is a media convention focused on the television series Torchwood. It was held in Rosemont, Illinois from June 5, 2009 to June 7, 2009 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and Doubletree Hotel Chicago O'Hare Airport - Rosemont.

Torchsong Chicago
Convention logo
Status active
Genre media
Location Rosemont, Illinois
Sponsor Space Debris/A Chez Lee Production
First held 2009
Official website



When originally announced, the only guests promised to attend were John Barrowman, Carole E. Barrowman, and Mark Sheppard.

A "Premiere Weekend Membership" was sold for $500 US and included:

Guaranteed Reserved Seat in the front half of our theater for all events
One Photo-Op and One Autograph (including photo) with all major guests
Saturday Night Dinner with John Barrowman Cabaret - Click HERE for Dinner Menu
Exclusive Friday Night Cocktail Reception with guests!
Convention Gift

When questioned if there would be more Torchwood guests coming, convention management said there would not be. Some fans complained about the steep price of membership for so few guests, while others pointed out it was being advertised more as a John Barrowman event than a Torchwood one.[1]

Kai Owen, Tom Price, and Gareth David Lloyd were eventually added to the guest list, and front-row tickets and premiere memberships were auctioned off at even higher prices: $710-$1,410.[2]. Other membership levels were sold off at $60-200 with photos and autographs from guests charged at prices starting at $20. There were complaints about continued issues and lack of organization on the con management's part, but many fans still committed to attending because of the promised guests and activities.[3]

On June 2, 2009, it was announced that Kai Owen would be unable to attend.[4] And on the day before the convention, June 4, 2009, it was announced that due to injury which made him unable to fly, John Barrowman would be unable to attend as well.[5] This caused considerable upset among many fans who had planned to attend--some who had already flown into Chicago before the news was announced, and many who had paid considerable amounts of money specifically to see John and his cabaret performance.[6] Convention organizers, where asked, stated they would not be providing any refunds on tickets purchased and nothing was said about the autograph and photo tickets people had purchased for specific guests who would now no longer be there.[7],[8] The response from Mary Lee regarding the cabaret tickets was:

"We are goinjg on with the show. I regret that if was listed on the site that if an actor might be release and John Barrowman is trying to go above and beyound due to his injury.
The site states that their is no refunds at this point.
I regret how you feel
But I need to work on items for john"[9]

On June 5, 2009, the following message was released by the convention organizers[10]:

We are, all of us, very upset about John’s severe injuries that prevent him from traveling to be in Chicago to participate in TORCHSONG; however, everyone including John, has put in herculean effort to continue what cannot be cancelled 1-2 days before any event.
At this point before any event, the facility (convention center) has been paid, the hotels/banquet hall (food) has been paid, non-refundable air tickets have been purchased, regional and national television ads have been paid for and run, audio/visual equipment rentals have been delivered, as well as a myriad of other event related expenses have been fully paid. Despite what some may believe, there is no pool of funds from which refunds can be paid. As stated on the web site from Day One: “There are NO REFUNDS after March 30, 2009.”
When the star of a Broadway/West End show gets injured, he is replaced by the understudy. After all, “The Show Must Go On!” All of us at TORCHSONG are doing much better than that for you, John’s loyal fans. John will still be at TORCHSONG CHICAGO via live 2-way video conference, known as SkyChat. He will be a part of the programming a number of times throughout the event, including the Cabaret! Further, within a day of our being notified of John’s injuries, we were able to arrange performances from the other TORCHSONG participants, as well as adding Peter Wingfield to the event and Cabaret.
Attending Premiere and Deluxe Members will get a signed photo of John Barrowman from San Diego Comic Con International 2008 (John’s first U.S. convention appearance), as well as Peter Wingfield’s signature and Photo-Op as part of their Premiere/Deluxe package.
All previously purchased John Barrowman Autograph tickets will be honored with the SDCC signed photos. If anyone has brought a special item to be signed by John or Kai, please speak to us directly.
Everyone attending TORCHSONG CHICAGO will receive Peter Wingfield’s autograph, No Purchase Required.
All unredeemed John Barrowman Autograph and Photo-Op tickets, as well as all unredeemed Memberships will be honored at our next event that John attends. Depending upon John’s recovery and rehabilitation, he will then be able to discuss his schedule.
For John’s fans who are attending TORCHSONG CHICAGO this weekend, rest assured that membership tickets to our next John Barrowman Event will be offered to you at a discount.

While clearly all fans were disappointed with what happened, some decided to make the most of the situation, while others considered filing complaints with their credit card companies to dispute the convention charges, and also with the Better Business Bureau.[11]

On Friday, June 5, reports from the convention begin to come in, reporting even more bad new for convention guests. At first it is reported (mistakenly) that Tom Price was hit by a car[12], but later it turns out he was hit by a cyclist and broke his wrist. Reports from convention attendees are mixed at this point, some enjoying themselves, others not so much.[13],[14] There are reports that those who paid for Premiere memberships, which were supposed to include autographed photos, had to buy their own photos because the con did not have the promised photos available for them.[15]

Impact on fandom

As discussed above, the convention and the problems with its organization and loss of guests created a lot of upset among the fandom. This was discussed at length in the convention's LiveJournal community as well as on who_anon, the Doctor Who anon meme.[16],[17],[18],[19] It also made some blog sites.[20]

There were also mixed reactions regarding the risque antics which John Barrowman apparently got up to during his satellite-link appearances in both the Q&A session and the Cabaret.[21],[22],[23] There were later requests from John not to post/share some of the more raunchy aspects of what went down publicly, for fear of negative backlash from the British press, and again, some fans reacted negatively, feeling they were being manipulated.[24],[25] It was also pointed out that the video feed was copyrighted and the con management did not want photos of the feed posted due to copyright concerns.[26] Accusations of jealousy were made over some of these issues of requested silence and non-posting of photos.[27]

On June 9, 2009, the LiveJournal community torch_tanic was created by condani.[28],[29] This community was only for fans who had attended the con, and appeared to be set up to deal with the financial issues in the aftermath of the convention.


The convention planned to have mainly discussion panels with the media guests.[30]


This section needs more information.

Fans attending

This section needs more information.

External links

Convention reports

See also


Below is a partial list of articles and academic sources to help you continue to learn about this community. This section needs more information.

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