Out with the Old, in with the New
The Steampunk World’s Fair 2017 was a rousing success! We’d like to thank everyone who attended this year’s event. We’d love your feedback; please feel free to share it with us via our feedback form!
Next year’s event, Steampunk World’s Fair 2018, will be at the Radisson and Embassy Suites of Piscataway, New Jersey, May 4-6th, 2018. Hotel rooms are available at our popular overflow hotel and tickets are available now as well!
New and don’t know where to start?
No problem! First, we recommend reading about what the Steampunk World’s Fair is. Then, take a look at our Entertainment line-up and our Merchant roster to get an idea of the things you can expect to enjoy at our event. Our VIP & Add-on event listings are a good way to see all the extra, premium content we have to offer, too! Then, when you’re ready, take a look at our Buy Tickets page to join us at the next SPWF.
The Latest from our Curators
Yes, it’s true! We’re making a STEAMPUNK HAUNTED HOUSE!
The Kickstarter goes live on Monday, 8/21/2017; PLEASE DO RSVP for the Facebook event to keep up with the latest info. Fittingly, it will happen in the darkness of the coming eclipse!
We’re so excited that we’ll say it again…
We’re Making A Steampunk Haunted House!
There’s a lot of research and discussion below, so if you want the short version, here it is:
The world’s largest Steampunk event, the world’s largest dark/alternative social media site, and an incredible, family-owned, hand-built resort in the Catskills are teaming up to create a Steampunk Haunted House which will be available both to those who travel there, and internationally (through special backer-only shows and live walkthroughs!) That Steampunk Haunted House is actually already 99% completed. We want your help to push it over the top!
Get ready! First 50 backers will be entered into a contest for having a drink with Jeff Mach and members of the Blackthorne and Haunt team!
STEAMPUNK FOR WORLD DOMINATION!
a book by Jeff Mach
Introduction: Exactly what the hell are we creating here, anyway?
I’m going to let you in on a huge secret here: Steampunk is imaginary. But just because it’s imaginary doesn’t mean that it’s not real.
Consider how odd our ideas of “reality” are. Does a locked door stop you from going through? Not if there’s an emergency fire axe. Does a door marked “authorized personnel only” keep you out? Not if you are authorized – or rude – or have a mission – or are fearless.
So many barriers are of the mind, not the physical world. Hell, even barriers of the physical world are overrated; ask the athlete or the survivor who “can’t go another step”–and then puts one foot in front of the other until they get there.
Steampunk is a product of thought, inspiration, dream, and spirit.Without those intangible things, it we would never create anything “real”–that is, tangible things, things which everyone perceives as being “real”. Humans would never make, transcend, build, invest, or dream. They would, in short, not be human.
So how about we break some barriers of Reality together?
We’re going to offer you some pathways and portals into the glorious alternative realities, the rich places in the mind, heart, and passion, which are Steampunk. It’s my hope that you can use them for any world of the imagination with which you might care to work or play.
The unreal world awaits your royal pleasure, O Majesty of the Mind.
Let’s jump in!
Jeff Mach runs The Steampunk World’s Fair, the world’s largest Steampunk event. Find all of our events at jeffmachevents.com
Read more of Jeff’s writing at www.patreon.com/jeffmach – some posts are only available to subscribers, but many posts are free!
How do you avoid con crash? We’ve all been there. You go to a convention or festival, you have an incredible weekend, you meet amazing people, you do things that will remain joyful memories forever–and then you get home and crash hard.
Some of the best ways to avoid this, I find, are making sure to get enough sleep over the weekend; make sure to hydrate and take in nourishment; and stay connected to your convention/festival family via the event’s social media.
Want to help your friend with con crash? You will find this article unbelievably, incredibly, supremely unhelpful! So without further ado…
FIVE HORRIBLE WAYS TO HELP A FRIEND AVOID CON CRASH:
1. Do not throw your friend into piranha tank. Piranha make an ugly, buzzing sort of noise while they strip the flesh from your bones. This noise can easily be mistaken for that of a Starbucks Frapuccino blender, and you might draw a crowd of people who will be sorely disappointed when they find that there is no caffeine to be had. I recommend barracuda – keep them hungry enough, and they can eat someone fairly quickly.
2. If they’re cold, do not set them on fire. This plays havoc with household smoke detectors if you’re inside, and if you’re outside, it’s really inconsiderate to set your friends ablaze if you can’t provide people with the makings of S’mores when they come investigate.
3. Avoid blankets made out of poison ivy, unless they have really cute things embroidered on them.
4. Do not lock them in a room and play the Donald Glover novelty song “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah“ seventime times, unless, of course, it’s near Halloween. Let’s be seasonally appropriate, okay, people?
5. Sharks with frickin’ laser beams. Effective? Sure. But most residential areas won’t let you bring in more than one shark at a time, and that means you have to leave the rest of them in your car or something, where they’ll get really bored. Pro tip: If you do go this route, loan the sharks your Game Boy. There’s nothing whinier than a shark who’s been hanging out in the parking lot with nothing to do but criticize the music in your Spotify playlist.
What Makes Music Steampunk? What IS Steampunk Music?
There are a wide variety of opinions on what Steampunk music is and how one might define it. We asked some of our friends
and some Steampunk World’s Fair attendees for their views, and we’d like to share them with the world!
- Steampunk is an alternative culture and has many musical styles – Lawrence Tagrin
- It depends on the instruments used, the style of performance, and the subject matter of the songs. – Lily Jarret
- Steampunk music is based on time travel, Victorian subjects, airships, etc. and hats! – David Sliwinski
- A pretty apt description for steampunk music is that it is an Afro-Funk-Soul-Trumpet-Instrumental – Lily Jarret
- It has a sound similar to the genres of dark cabaret, electronica, industrial music, new age, folk music, 19th century romantic classical, ragtime, early 20th century Jazz or swing, and punk jazz. Which these genres span from the different elements of the steampunk subculture and fashion. Punk, cyber punk, Goth, Victorian Goth, diesel punk, dreadpunk, Gothic Lolita, and of course the historical influence of the regency, Victorian, and Edwardian eras. I also think aside from sound that how a performer presents themselves is exceedingly important to identifying that steampunk genre of music. Like Steampowered Giraffe and the Eternal Frontier – Nicole Oliva
- They are musical styles based in turn of the century music with sort of neo-vintage vibe. Stuff that cabaret or klezmer or swing or jazz will usually hit the spot for me. Though that’s more dieselpunk than steampunk. A lot of the songs and chanties many of us know from sca actually have 18th and 19th origins, so if anything, those are steampunk, but since they are just melodies, people often don’t make the connection – Berakha Lana
- It is more about the thematics of band/music and less about the genre they perform in. There are many bands who are not considered “steampunk” but lend themselves to the general atmosphere of the genre itself. In other shorter words, Steampunk Music is like Steampunk Anything. Widely varies on interpretation and creativity and is awesome as all hell. I like musicians that tell stories with their songs. Like Lindsey Sterling and Delain – Jeremiah Kornspan
- Steampunk music (geek music might be the larger umbrella) is the only genre defined by lyrics and not musicality – Jonah Knight
- Opera and music derived from opera seem to be one important thread in steampunk music – Chelsea Goodwin
- Electro-swing and swing-house are great for conveying the anachronistic aspect of Steampunk – Ian Staer
I wrote a version of this a few months ago, but I realized that it’s valuable from both an event creator and an attendee point of view. So I made some changes and I wanted to share it with you.
After an event, my team and I get deluged with thoughts from attendees. And the thoughts come down to things like “There was too much to do! ..but don’t get rid of anything, we want to do it! Also, we want a bigger space for X, Y, and Z, but we also want to keep all the classes and programming that you used the other ballroom space for. Also, please don’t schedule any stuff that people don’t want to do, because what are we paying for? At the same time, please stop scheduling things people like at the same time so we don’t have th choose, okay?”
For my team, we have a culture best described by the Steve Earle song “I Ain’t Never Satisfied”. We will not stop, we will not rest, until we find everything that didn’t work and try to improve it, and find everything that did work and try to do more of it, and then we try to reach into the future to find out what will be great a year from now.
Are these things contradictory? Impossible? No! Because all they’re doing is illustrating that a good event is basically like a TARDIS.
A good event will transport you across time and space with minimal effort. “Where does the time go??” “I don’t get it, one minute I was in the ballpit, now I’m on the other side of the hotel, seeing a show or having a drink or in a conversation; what just happened?”
That’s because a great event – no matter what its theme, no matter who runs it – is a TARDIS. It is bigger on the inside than on the outside, or, more specifically, a great kink event is much, much larger than thesum of its parts.
The programming matters. The classes matter, the socialization matters, the vendors matter, the performance matters – all of these things are critical. But they’re also quantifiable. The Great Secret of running events – which many of you know, and which I will share with the rest of you for free – is this:
Great events create a haven for the people who attend, an entire worldwhich belongs to them and only them, and in that world, normal rulesdon’t even BEGIN to apply. If done right, a fandom event is a magical portal away from all the junk in our everyday lives, but it’s not a portal into an imaginary world where people are nice to each other and we live out fantasies and dreams – it’s a portal to a place that alwaysexists. Because we always have the power to make our kink dreams a reality; we always have the power to be excellent to each other; wealways have the power to create, not a bunch of people running arounda hotel in search of kink, but a community, hell, a fucking NATION of united people who take care of each other, learn together, have experiences together, and build something far, far greater than the sum of its parts*.
A great event is like a TARDIS. And no, that doesn’t make an event promoter like me into someone fancy, like the Doctor. I’m just the fellow with a wrench who hangs out, trying to make sure that, if something goes wrong, we fix it, and if I see a way to make it better, I make it better. Attendees are Timelords, altering the world around them, going where they choose, changing lives; I’m the TARDIS technician, making sure the damn thing doesn’t explode when you decide to hit some kind of weird overload.
It’s not just that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; it’s that the whole is greater than just about anything. I spend 12 months trying to make 3 days go well, and it’s the best use of a year I could possibly imagine.
(Note: I originally wrote this a long time ago, for my Patreon, but I felt like it was meaningful now, and that this is a good time to share it.)
What is Steampunk?
I’ve always loved the definition by our friend and frequent guest, the talented author Gail Carriger: ”
“Steampunk is…the love child of Hot Topic and a BBC costume drama”
That’s just silly enough not to tie you down to one place, and yet accurate enough to give you a definition you could actually use. I really enjoy it.
But in a world where people seem to find it critical to figure out exactly what Steampunk is, I’d like to take a different approach. I’d like to talk about the question of what Steampunk is not. Or, more specifically, I’d like to talk about why that is one of the least helpful questions one can ask.
Steampunk is nothing if not eclectic, nothing if not eccentric, nothing if not world-spanningly strange. And I mean that in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Metaphorically, the worlds of Steampunk are unbelievably diverse unbelievably mutable. They’re unbelievably able to not only take on a myriad of forms and shapes, but to also interact with other Steampunk worlds which are quite different…and do it on terms that are not only friendly, but downright joyous.
And so, when we get to questions of what Steampunk is and is not, I think it’s important to think about some of the things that we really ought not worry about asking. Or at least, questions which we should use sparingly, because they’re often not the best things to ask or say.
Questions we don’t often need to ask:
“Is this Steampunk enough?” It’s not that we never, ever need to ask that. But the fact is that there are few forces out there who are trying to rip off Steampunk by saying something is when it is not. And that’s because, in general, Steampunk’s arbiters are everyone in Steampunk
Steampunk is made up of the entire multitude, the vast and essentially democratic universe of every expert, every maker, every esteemed figure… AND every complete newbie, everyone who is curious, everyone who simply wants to see what’s going on. The question of whether or not something is Steampunk becomes somewhat irrelevant, because it’s a question which matters most if people are trying to exploit Steampunk for some reason…and we simply aren’t inclined to let that happen. If something is of interest to majority of Steampunks, we’ll likely to support it. If something isn’t of interest to that group, we’ll likely forget it. If you make something of interest to a lot of Steampunks, then you’ve created something which is sufficiently Steampunk. You’re not taking advantage of anything. There’s no reason to do it, and no way to do it.
“Am I Steampunk enough?” This is a totally understandable question. But it’s a question you need not really worry about. Sure, you can be concerned on on a direct level, in terms of whether or not you’re likely to enjoy a given Steampunk thing. But in such cases, follow your heart and your interests. It’s just like anything else. If you think you might like it, and it’s worth the expenditure of your time and energy to give it a try, give it a try. If you’re not sure, and where the risks, and decide. That’s true for everything, from movies, to baseball games, to library books, to buying a new car, to attempting to learn how to levitate to the moon. (Note: please not attempt levitate to the moon. We are busy building a gigantic replica of Atlantis up there, and we want it to be a surprise.)
And here’s a final question that falls into the category of its own that category is:
“Will I be welcome at this Steampunk place or thing?” The answer is going to differ based on which social group in which Steampunk thing you’re talking about, true; tthere is no scene or social world which is entirely without its hierarchies, its pecking orders, and its pettiness. There are always going to be some people who just won’t make folks feel welcome, and while I believe those people are probably unhappy no general lives, they do exist, and Steampunk is not 100% free of them.
However, for a number of reasons, which I talk about in my other writings, Steampunks are some of the warmest and most accepting people on the planet. We have to be; after all, the ridiculous is our forte and our home. It is pretty damn weird to judge somebody if you yourself take great pride in the nonfunctional goggles on the impractical top hat which shows off the lovely but peculiar corset you’re wearing over your sneakers and Slytherin socks. There are people managed who can be judgmental under those conditions, sure. But they are in the minority, and while they’re not silly in a good way, they are still silly as heck; other Steampunks don’t take those people seriously. Judge not, lest people look at you and say, “Oh, come ON now, quit it!”
So in short, the simplest questions of Steampunk may be the best one: “Hey can I have fun with this? Can I do something with this? Can I make this something that enriches my life, and maybe even the lives of others?” And if you don’t want to get that deep, let it be as simple as “Does this top hat fit?” Because personally, I think you would look great with a pair of impossible goggles.
Jeff Mach’s newest rock opera Kickstarter has only a few days left! Check it out at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeffmach/what-sharp-teeth-jeff-machs-third-peculiar-rock-op/. He runs Jeff Mach Events, which put on the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the Halloween vacation Halloween in the Catskills; America’s only Goth/Dark Alternative convention, Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks); and Glimmerdark, the Misfit Faerie Festival.
What SHARP Teeth tells the gloriously warped Steampunk-Fairytale story of Little Red Riding Hood, the Crocodile, and the Narrator, as they journey through a dark and Freudian wood. What will happen in this peculiar retelling? It’s unpredictable, magical, and sharp-edged, with darkly clever songs and a twisty little plot. Tickets are available directly through our Kickstarter, and it will be performed at Glimmerdark: Misfit Faerie Festival II – by Jeff Mach. If the campaign goes well, we’ll seek to bring it to The Steampunk World’s Fair 2018: Steampunk Joy!
Following the success of our Steampunk rock opera Absinthe Heroes comes this Fairy Tale Gone Awry, a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story, with new mutations and old, old crocodiles.
You can contribute and get tickets right now at our Kickstarter!
The Steampunk World’s Fair was featured in The Syfy Channel’s Syfywire: “11 Unconventional Conventions You Have To Geek Out At“ by Elizabeth Rayne:
03 – The Steampunk World’s Fair
Travel back to a time warp of Victorian anachronisms and let the gears of your imagination turn in a neo-Victorian world straight out of the pages of Jules Verne. If you like the whole RenFaire idea but it makes you feel like you’re stuck in the wrong era, then you might belong at the historically inaccurate and fantastically splendid Steampunk World’s Fair.
Steampunk imagines a past that clank-booms into the future with steam-powered gadgetry from mechanical wings to all sorts of contraptions you never dreamed could be made of metal tubing and dismantled clocks. There is an otherworldly feeling to the Goblin Market of guests and vendors who range from the fire dancers and aerialists of the KarnEvil sideshow to the guy who designed Nathan Filion’s legendary steampunk arm from Castle. VIP Luminary guests can even attend Cogsday festivities, because the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism aka the first cog ever is the holiest day of the year to the gear-obsessed.