I was really REALLY happy that we went to this event... thanks Jon!
JA and I had agreed beforehand, that if at any point either of us wanted to leave (because we were uncomfortable, or just ready to go), that we would. At one point, I was in tears... both because of an encounter with another attendee who seriously skeeved me out, and because the overwhelming number of people there started to wear on me (I don't do well in crowds, especially alone, and JA had gone outside for a smoke break). Thankfully we were able to move to the side and talk about what I was feeling and why I was crying, and JA helped me calm down and was very supportive of me when I really needed him to be. If it hadn't been for that quiet little moment between the two of us, I would have wanted to leave right then and there, and wouldn't have experienced the rest of the night.
Moving from the main bar area into the secondary room (the one with the booth/alcoves) really helped me be more comfortable, as there were way less people back there, and I was not only able to breathe easier but we were also able to join in on some conversation where we didn't feel like we had to yell to be heard. Earlier on in the night, it had been the same way in the main room (that's what we get for showing up early/on time) but the growing crowd had made it impossible, so I was really happy that we moved out of there.
I have to say, it was just such an experience (both exciting and overwhelming) to get to meet so many new people, and to feel accepted and understood by people. It's one thing to experience such acceptance online (for example, here in the forums), but it's another thing entirely to feel accepted in person, without having to ask to be accepted.