Greetings Lords and Ladies! Danger Ace here.
Let’s have a small talk about something that you may or may not yet be familiar with… The fascinating sub-culture of Steampunk.
To give you someplace to start from, imagine a world created from the visions of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Mary Shelley. A world where the information age came forth in not the 1980’s but in the 1880’s. A world where mad scientists aren’t so mad and their fantastic creations become fact. Everything from airships to ray guns to Mesmotrons to singing automatons. A world where the sensibilities of the Victorian age crash into the adventurous spirit of the old west and throw in some gears, brass, and steam.
All these things and more are what Steampunk is.
It’s started as a simple story telling style, but in recent decades it has stepped forth and become a counter culture movement.
New styles of music have sprung forth, a mix of modern and vintage, and Steampunk bands of all different kinds. All of them tend to be unique unto themselves, everything from vaudeville to swing to hip hop, all with a Steampunk twist.
Amazing Steampunk art, often taking modern day products and re-imagining them with a Victorian feel. Computers with type writer keys. Antique cars with kerosene headlamps. Clockwork blunderbusses with bizarre tubes and glowing crystals. Electrified guitars covered in brass and steel that produce unearthly sounds.
And its definitely about fashion. Top hats, Bowlers and Stetsons. Fancy finery for gentlemen and gentlewomen. Not so fancy for the not so gentle. More often than not, a mix of the two. Adventurers and scientists and airship pirates, oh my! Vests and waistcoat! Pinstriped suits! Dresses with ruffles aplenty. And don’t forget your goggles!
And let me tell you, while the internet indeed has a wealth of information to try to explain exactly what Steampunk is, to really understand it you need to go to a Steampunk gathering to really get it.
Such was the case with me. Many years ago I became aware of Steampunk after watching an episode of “Make” on PBS. It didn’t so much introduce the concept to me as put a label to a genre I was already familiar with. As a fan of shows like ‘The Wild Wild West’, movies and books such as ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ and ‘The Rocketeer’ and role playing games like ‘Deadlands’, I was already partially immersed in the concepts.
I began looking into it. I soon stumbled upon Steampunk music in the form of Professor Elemental and the group Abney Park. I found myself attending a spotlight on Steampunk at a convention and wanting more. I bought a bowler and some Japanese aviator goggles. I watched the movie Steamboy repeatedly. I was starting to get it.
Then, a friend of mine, on Jerry Perry, also known as “And” from the Comedy Swordfighting troupe ‘Cut, Thrust, And Run’, sent me an invite to a Steampunk November party.
It changed everything!
This amazing event was easily the most fun I have had in ages. The bands, the vendors, the sideshow, the drink, the food, the participants. It was all just so amazing. It was kind of like a semi-secret society grand ball. How I’m imagining those first Burning Man gatherings might have been!
All I knew was I had arrived. These were my people. This was where I fit.
I was a Steampunk!
And this year’s Steampunk November gathering is going to be even bigger and better, and so am I. I’ve spent the year creating all manner of steampunkery for me and my clan. And the crew of the Airship the Wayward Son is going to be fully geared up and ready this year. I find myself almost counting the days…
So in closing, to truly learn what Steampunk is all about, look for local Steampunk events and just go. Don’t worry that you don’t have proper clothes or even a grasp on what it is. You’ll find we are a very friendly and helpful lot, and we welcome one and all to come join in the fun!
The Steampunk November party occurs in Texas just south of Dallas and Fort Worth on Saturday November 9th this year, and would be an excellent introduction into Steampunk Society. Go give it a shot! Hope to see you there!
Danger Ace is a regular contributor to Nerd Heard and resident science “expert”. Listen for his Science and Space with Danger Ace on episodes of the Nerd Heard Podcast.
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