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Dungeons & Dragons-Themed Bash Brings 'Nerd' Invasion to Bridgeport

By Mark Konkol | November 15, 2013 9:23am | Updated on November 15, 2013 10:55am
 Nerds plan to celebrate with fried chicken and heavy metal at LevelEater 3.5 — a Dungeons and Dragon's rock 'n' roll art show that's capped off with live fantasy role-play.
Nerd Alert In The 'BHT'
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Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!

The Bridgeport Hipster Triangle — a bastion of thrift-store fashion, bearded craft beer drinkers and tattooed coffeehouse baristas near the crooked corner of 31st and Morgan — will be flooded with nerds Friday night.

And these won't be just any awkward, bookish introverts.

We’re talking Dungeons & Dragons nerds — those heavy-metal heads who, for so long, kept their fantasy role-playing sessions secret for fear of being shunned by mainstream America.

Emboldened by the popularity of fantasy-themed video games like "World of Warcraft" and the hit TV show "Game of Thrones," many longtime D&D nerds — their word not mine — say they no longer feel shame for playing a game that once was criticized for allegedly promoting devil worship, witchcraft, suicide and murder.

"We call it the secret because you'll never get laid if people know you play D&D,” said Barnaby Struve. "But now we're coming into our own. We're coming out of the closet, you could say."

So on Friday night, Struve and about 200 D&D nerds just like him, plan to celebrate publicly.

It's called LevelEater 3.5 — a rock 'n' roll/art show that culminates with a "Cannonball Run" style D&D tourney that could last until the wee hours at the Co-Prosperity Sphere cultural center, 3219 S. Morgan.

The fantasy/heavy metal-themed event includes an art installation and the musical styling of local bands, Sunsplinter and Sybris. Plus, DJ Justin Drase will spin “wizard rock,” music inspired by Harry Potter.

If you're thinking of going, but worried that D&D nerds will judge people who, like me, don't know the difference between an ork and an elf — fear not.

It starts off just like any other party.

"You know, from 7 to 11 it's food, music, art and beer. Just another regular day in the Bridgeport arts scene," said LevelEater 3.5 co-organizer Ed Marszewski, who owns Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar. "The gaming doesn't start until midnight, and then it's really just of bunch of nerds playing D&D."

The "opening ceremony" starts with music and fried chicken and a special Three Floyds beer brewed just for one night — a tasty, easy-drinking amber commissioned by Three Floyds owner Nick Floyd and Struve, a couple of D&D nerds who brew some of the world's best beers.

“It's nice to have a confluence of events — an art installation, live gaming, great music by people who care about it, and also, craft beer," Struve said. "It's an amalgamation of awesomeness. A lot of people who were into nerdy things and what we consider fringe music have grown up and got jobs and stuff. And now that we've found each other, we're really stoked to have a community to celebrate these things."

The band, Sybris, plans to re-release its fantasy-themed 7-inch single that's packaged with a "module" — a role-play guidebook of maps, stories and adventure narratives used to play D&D — that bass player Shawn Podgurski, Chad Troutman and Floyd published together.

"To all get together for a hip art installation and play music and a game that's been in the shadows of your life is really cool," Podgurski said.

"Being a nerd isn't as offensive as it was in the '80s. The way pop culture is going … it's like the nerds have won. All the sudden there's little hot girls dressed as Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn and wearing 'I Love Nerds' shirts. We’re coming out on top. Don't know how long it will last, or when the bubble will burst, but it's cool."

In case you're going: Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance at Maria's or online.