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'Twilight' convention: Not your teen's retreat

You've seen these women before. When the weekend ends, they will go back home — to children, husbands or co-workers.

books Updated: Apr 23, 2011 22:39 IST

You've seen these women before. When the weekend ends, they will go back home — to children, husbands or co-workers.

They have gathered for the Official Twilight Convention, which came to Virginia last weekend, one stop on a multi-city US tour. Inside the Sheraton National Hotel, it soon becomes clear that Twilight fandom is not just for teens. In fact, if the crowd here is any indication, it's not for teens at all.

In the young adult section of every bookstore in America, there is a shelf heavy with vampires, fallen angels and werewolves that just want to be loved — all the monstrous progeny of the Twilight series.

These are grown-ups: women in their mid-20s to late 40s. Sure, some came to the book through their daughters. But most say they met online in groups such as Facebook's Twilight Sorority or discovered Stephenie Meyer's novels in their book groups.

Fangs? None. Skin glitter? Only at Saturday night's Volturi Vampire Ball.

The "Twilight" gatherings are less the female equivalent of Star Trek conventions than they are ladies-only spa retreats. To be sure, most teenagers don't have the disposable income to come to the Sheraton National for a weekend, where ticket prices range from $25 for a one-day pass to $250 for a VIP weekend package.

Erica Watts, of Virginia Beach, here with her book club friend Doris Higgins-O'Brien, scans the room. There might be as many as eight men. "There are more men here than ever," Watts notes.

It's true that male Twilight fans are a rarity. "I guess I'm officially outing myself," Henry Holzmann said, grinning behind his wire-rimmed sunglasses. "I only talk about it on, like, Facebook and stuff." He contended that this is a great place to meet women, although he didn't seem to be having much luck. Well, so many of them are married. Or have boyfriends. Or kids.

And meeting real men is not what this adult fandom is about. It's about embracing escapism, about knowing "real life" all too well. This crowd has moved past teen obsessions. People here know the difference between love and stalking, between fairy tale and reality. But they still enjoy the romance, and the company of women who understand.

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