Dad Pony was right. Conferences really are like academic summer camp. It's a vacation from the real world. You meet people, and within six hours of meeting them, you have your buddies, and your little groups, and it's fun. Two of the people there wrote books that I had used in Le Thesis. I bought one of the books, and I got the author to sign it for me. She turns out to be a brand-new professor -- this was her first book, and it probably evolved from her dissertation -- who's just about my age. We got along well, and she even took a look at Le Thesis. She also brought her mom along, and that was just great.
I had prepared for my presentation, and it went off well. My paper was about music in Holocaust-themed film. We were supposed to have presentations that were twenty minutes long, so I'd written one that I could deliver in exactly twenty minutes, and I'd rehearsed it beforehand. I even practiced with the AV equipment, on the theory that it's far better to look like an idiot practicing with a VCR than to look like an idiot when the VCR doesn't work in the middle of your speech. There wasn't a whole lot of time for questions after all the presentations from that panel, but people seemed to like the paper, and some of them chatted with me about it throughout the weekend.
I heard lots of other papers on lots of other topics. The conference was interdisciplinary and international, so I got to meet academics from all over the world talking about all sorts of Holocaust-related subjects. Everyone was friendly and supportive, and there were performances and a movie as well. There's even an opportunity to work up our papers into scholarly articles to be published in a book. I think I'm going to do that. There's lots more that I could say about the films I discussed, and that would be really cool (as well as good for my CV) to get it published.
I think I like conferences, although they are expensive. Perhaps I shall go to more of them in the future.