All the editions that I've participated in so far have been organized at the Metropolis in Antwerp. It's a movie theatre complex from the Kinepolis Group that I particularly like for their wide range of theatres and predictable service and choice of catering, and quality of their projections. Using it as a venue for a development conference pays off as you get to use the high quality projectors and screens and audio to do what a conference does best: show stuff to people. The catering is not bad either and all in all it's a wonderful experience that's very well handled by their staff. I'm sure tons of stuff went wrong behind the scenes that us "devs" will never even realize has happened because of the professionalism with which such as big event is organized.
Which leaves me with a sad note. We were all given some nice swag to go along with the conference, like a bag with goodies (mostly marketing junk, but the bag is nice) to put the stuff in that you trade your soul for (as in: have your badge scanned and therefore agree to be spammed the remainder of your days). I also like to take the opportunity of attending this conference each year by finishing it with a visit to a movie. Except, this time I was met with the "other" side of the theatre.
Even though there were like a 1000 guys like me walking around the complex with this issued bag for two days, I was promptly denied access to the theatre because this "bag" was deemed a security risk. It doesn't matter that this particular complex as a vast underground parking area from which one could easily plant some sort of explosive device that could do some serious damange. No, sir, your bag is a security risk, and we can't allow you to enter unless you're willing to part with your proudly received swag for a couple of hours in one of our fine locker rooms.
It's not so much that I was discomforted by not being able to carry my bag inside (which contained the Oatmeal book that I planned to read during the commercial breakdown) but the fact that I felt seriously violated. Here I paid 9 euros to enter a theatre to watch a movie ("The Adjustment Bureau" and it's a nice one) and even before I entered the room I was assured to be treated like a criminal. And yet they keep wondering why they're losing customers. Apparently being subjected to anti-piracy campaigns before the start of the movie wasn't enough. What's next? Strip searches? Full body scanners? Uniformed company drones with blue gloves?
I am truly disgusted.