For Those New to Steampunk

Photo Credit: Babs Who Takes Pictures

Photo Credit: Babs Who Takes Pictures

Honest. There Is No Secret Steampunk Handshake!

It has been several years since the mainstream’s acknowledgment of Steampunk—that ever-expanding and historically creative subculture of literature, music, fashion, science, intellectual gatherings, and beyond.  Steampunk: We know it when we see and hear it.  It appears distinct and new, yet with a comforting sense of familiarity to it.  If our grandparents and their parents could see a steampunk today, they might not find these ideas so abnormal.

Over the years, there has been an expansive wardrobe of definitions—some embraced and some cast aside, strewn on the dressing room floor like so much ill-fitting finery—that attempted to capture the requisite quality of “true Steampunk”.  Is it the copper-and-brass of smoke-stacked machinery?  The Victorian sensibilities of involved parties?  That palpable hint of merry adventure, dangerous exploration, and brave new wonders still left to uncover?

Or something more subtle?

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Steampunk Festival Versus Steampunk Convention

What’s the difference between a festival and a convention? Well, we’d actually like to quote an interview that one of our founders did with

Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band at World's Fair I

Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band at World’s Fair I

I actually had this discussion, over at BrassGoggles, about the difference between a “Festival” (as we are) and a “Convention.” Obviously, we have a lot of convention elements, and Steampunk conventions have elements which are a lot like our festival. But we feel there’s this difference – and I’m quoting right from

  1. a day or period set aside for celebration or feasting, esp one of religious significance
  2. any occasion for celebration, esp one which commemorates an anniversary or other significant event
  3. an organized series of special events and performances, usually in one place a festival of drama
  4. Archaic a time of revelry; merrymaking (modifier) relating to or characteristic of a festival

If you would like to contrast it with “convention” – and we love conventions –

  1. formal meeting of members, representatives, or delegates, as of a political party, fraternal society, profession, or industry.
  2. The body of persons attending such an assembly

We were then asked:

What will set the Steampunk World’s Fair apart from other [events]*?

And responded:

Flat-out insane devotion to providing a sensory overload of entertainment. Also, Legos.

The Steampunk World’s Fair is thoroughly dedicated to fun, inside and outside! We see the exuberant creativity of Steampunk as a method of creating color, fascination and joy. …basically, we throw one hell of a party, with some of the finest entertainers, creators, authors, artists, designers, builders, and imagineers in the world. And we want you to come along and celebrate with us!

* (They said “conventions”, but meant “events”. It was early enough that people didn’t really think of Steampunk in terms of “festivals” much, especially on this side of the pond.)

Originally published December 7, 2011