Steampunk World's Fair

This weekend I was at Steampunk World’s Fair! The event filled more than two hotels when it only expected to fill one, so I knew it’d be big going in, but the entire thing was positively fantastic: An endless carnival of performances, discussions, costumes and dancing!

The best panel that I went to was the Steampunk Social Issues panel, moderated by Ay-leen of Beyond Victoriana and featuring panelists Jha of Silver Goggles, Jake Von Slatt of Steampunk Workshop, Lucretia of the Penny Dreadfuls and Emilie P. Bush, author of “Chenda and the Airship Brofman”. We talked about gender, class, and race in Steampunk, and it was awesome to see so many people willing to get up and talk about serious things at 11am!

I thought the discussion on class was particularly interesting – of those categories it’s the one I’ve read the least about, but it was hard NOT to notice class at the Fair. Most people’s costumes, especially the more “Victorian-looking” ones, were decidedly upper-middle class or aristocracy. But the stories I like the best – the ones that put the “punk” in steampunk, as it were – tend to be more about working-class adventurers than gentlemen scientists or lady explorers. So while I was admiring everyone’s lovely costumes, the Fair got me thinking about the stories we value in our personas and costumes. And while I had to leave the panel early, such awesome discussions are going on right now at the Great Steampunk Debate as well!

It was nice to finally meet some of you awesome people in person, thanks for a fantastic fair!

Be Sociable, Share!

9 Responses to “Steampunk World's Fair”

  1. That was the author of “Chenda and the Airship Brofman,” Emilie P. Bush.

  2. Thanks! I’ll correct it now.

  3. I wonder if some of our styling ourselves to be upper-middle class and aristocracy is due to the fact that most of us, in the mundane world are of the more common sort? I know that’s part of my motivation.

    And at some level, isn’t that part of Steampunk – that we eschew the established norm and create our own class, our own value?

    That’s somewhat my incoherent thoughts posting this at 2 AM and all, but there you go.

  4. First off, it was a pleasure meeting you at the fair, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed our discussions so much.

    @Dr. Cayne – I really think class personas are very self-reflective of the subculture as a whole, and a good part of the “upper middle class” feel has several roots to my observations:

    1) a majority of the participants do come from middle-class backgrounds
    2) the wish-fulfillment aspect of personas. Everyone would like to have a privileged lifestyle, even if they don’t in real life.
    3) the media attention usually focuses on the more elaborate, aristocratic outfits and the work of fashion designers, which in turn, contributes in an internalized message to other steampunks that most of us are aristocratically dressed, even if they are not.

  5. Valuable prespectives indeed, Ay-leen. I think there is indeed some wish fulfillment going on there. Quite interesting. Thanks for your thoughts. I shall reflect upon them now…

  6. And it would help if I could type, but, hélas, it could not be so…

  7. what about the maker fare in San Mateo C.A.

  8. But, who wants to dress up as a chimney sweep or a barrow boy?
    It’s much more fun to be a character from a Jules Verne novel than to be a Dickensian street urchin.

  9. Oh………I was at the discussion as well. It was very informative.

Leave a Reply