Jeff Mach‘s Steampunk World’s Fair is the world’s largest Steampunk event! Everyone is welcome, from the veteran Steampunker to the simply curious. Come an join us for a weekend of merriment, we’d love to meet you!
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
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.
Victor Sierra leads you into a vaporous and multicoloured universe through unexplored paths down to a future that could have been… In a bloody sky, the airship Hydrogen Queen keeps a steady pace while very special trains can fly leaving the road not taken. On stage, the Legendary Converted Princess’s and Commander Bob and Big Machine’s energies invite you to go beyond the horizon line, to be stirred in unison and to live unpredictable experiences. Enter Victor Sierra’s universe…
Night Watch Paradox presents their interactive steampunk rock opera, “Magnificent Machines and Astonishing Tales” Join with the heroic crew of a steam-powered airship as they travel through space and time using their “working” time machine. The crew encounters fictional and historical characters and ultimately help the Americans defeat the British during the War Of 1812. You will experience the most cowbell allowed by law!
With an eclectic instrumental line-up, Night Watch Paradox merges musical styles of rock, jazz, Appalachian, sea shanties, Klezmer and cabaret. The musical equivalent of reading “Treasure Island,” they bring the audience along on a participatory journey of musical performance and storytelling as they travel in their imaginary, steam-powered airship.
Magnificent Machines & Astonishing Tales
An interactive steampunk rock opera featuring music, adventure, time travel, pirates, wenches, drunkards and more cowbell!
Night Watch Paradox – Live Music
Come hear Night Watch Paradox perform live music!
Steampunk World’s Fair
Costume Contest 2018
This year’s costume contest will have two main categories – Makers and Curators. Makers are defined as someone who has made or modified most of their own costume and props. A Curator is someone who has who put together costumes by assembling or “curating” a collection of Makers’ and store-bought pieces. Contestants will self-select the category they feel best defines the work they have done in their own costume.
Makers are defined as someone who has made or modified most of their own costume and props. Makers can make only one prop, several props, only your costume, your costume and your prop and still participate under the Maker category. Judges discretion will be used to judge between someone who has only made a prop and someone who has made everything they are wearing. It’s quite possible we will decide to give out additional prizes such as best prop or clothing item!
As Makers ourselves, we know how much work goes into a good costume and we would like the opportunity to fairly judge that work. There will be pre-judging for Makers only. It will occur Saturday (time to be established), in the parking lot next to the Midway Stage. We recommend entrants be prompt. The judges will judge on a first come first served basis and will judge as many entrants as possible in the two hour time frame. Winners will be announced at the end of the Costume Contest on Saturday. Entrants must be present to win.
Makers will be broken into two categories – Experienced and Novice as designated by the contestant. Entrants self-select the category they feel best defines their level of skill. Pre-registration is not required.
The judges will award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes at the end of the Costume Contest on Saturday. Entrants must be present to win. There will be an opportunity to present the pre-judged makers on the stage as well so everyone can see your marvelous work!
Please do not worry! If you can’t make the pre-judging, you can still participate in the contest under the Curator category!
A Curator is someone who has who put together costumes by assembling or “curating” a collection of Makers’ and store-bought pieces. Judging will occur as Saturday afternoon at X time on the Midway Stage. We will begin lining up 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the contest. Please be prompt! Pre-registration is not required.
Participants will self-select that category they wish to compete in. The categories are:
- Maker, Expert, Individual Participant – defined as 1 participant in the Expert Maker Category. To participate in the category you MUST attend pre-judging on prior to the contest!
- Maker, Expert, Group Participants – defined as more than one participant in a group-themed costume in the Expert Maker Category. To participate in the category you MUST attend pre-judging prior to the contest!
- Maker, Beginner, Individual Participant – defined as 1 participant in the Expert Maker Category. To participate in the category you MUST attend pre-judging prior to the contest!
- Maker, Beginner, Group Participants – defined as more than one participant in a group-themed costume in the Expert Maker Category. To participate in the category you MUST attend pre-judging prior to the contest!
- Curator, Expert, Individual Participant – defined as 1 participant in the Expert Curator Category. To participate you need only attend the contest on Saturday afternoon. We will not be pre-judging curators prior to the contest.
- Curator, Expert, Group Participants – defined as more than one participant in a group-themed costume in the Expert Curator Category. To participate you need only attend the contest on Saturday afternoon. We will not be pre-judging curators on prior to the contest.
- Curator, Beginner, Individual Participant – defined as 1 participant in the Beginner Curator Category. To participate you need only attend the contest on Saturday afternoon. We will not be pre-judging curators prior to the contest.
- Curator, Beginner, Group Participants – defined as more than one participant in a group-themed costume in the Beginner Curator Category. To participate you need only attend the contest on Saturday afternoon. We will not be pre-judging curators prior to the contest.
Winners will be announced at the end of the Costume Contest on Saturday, X PM at the Midway Stage. You must be present to win.