I really don’t get steampunk.
I figured that I would just throw that out there. After all, I’ve been attending steampunk events for three years now. You would think I would understand what’s going on. But it doesn’t click. My mom has mastered shopping for steampunk costume pieces though.
For anyone unfamiliar with steampunk you really just need to know that it’s a movement that’s based on Victorian science fiction. This would include authors such as Jules Verne, HG Wells and HP Lovecraft. The most basic form of steampunk is the fashion aspect. It’s a Victorian inspired look but with a “punk” twist. There is no need for Victorian era modesty. There’s probably going to be a lot of gears, watches and goggles involved. Then, if you’re really into it, steampunk offers a world of imagination and craftsmanship. One of the more popular aspects of steampunk are the props. Props can be anything from simple watch designs to guns to complicated segaway-like contraptions. The props have a very sci-fi futuristic feel to them but they’re made to look like they’re antiques from the Victorian era. Ideally, props are supposed to be designed with the notion that they could be steam powered. Of course, a prop is more than likely powered by batteries if it is powered at all but that’s when your imagination is supposed to kick in.
Steampunk is more than a costume and prop movement however. It’s cornering a niche market in the sci-fi scene as seen by its presence in television and novels. And it’s been successful. There was a Phineas and Ferb episode that was steampunk inspired and even had a cameo by Professor Elemental. Thus, despite its niche market, steampunk has its share of mainstream profitability.
I love it when things have mainstream profitability. I like to shop.
I’ve also found steampunk fairly straightforward to shop for. At least, it is from the costume side of things. Corsets can easily be ordered in online. Cute hair pieces for girls are common because they’re also seen at weddings. Actually, many steampunk headpieces for girls remind me of the crazy hats that female members of the British Royal Family wear to weddings. As for jewelry, you can get actual antique pieces at flea markets. Or you could raid your mom’s closet. It’s actually disturbing how easily jewelry from the 80’s can pass for Victorian.
You may be wondering why I have this much of a grasp on steampunk when I don’t get it. Well, that’s because I have friends. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing (ha ha). The first one of my group to participate in steampunk was girlpuck. She knew about the style and she was the one who joined Steampunk Newfoundland, our local steampunk group. She told Mad Maddox and me about it and we decided to look into it. I went to my first steampunk event without any clue as to what I was getting into. This is literally all I knew: steampunk involved corsets and pocket watches. That’s it. Steampunk was corsets and pocket watches. I think I grasped the Victorian fashion side of it. I completely failed to get the “steam” bit and I really didn’t see what made it punk.
Since then, girlpuck has quietly enjoyed the world of steampunk, I just show up to things and Mad has taken the costume aspect of it and ran with it. And by ran with it, I mean Mad has taken to steampunk costuming like it was a football and she’s bulldozing her way to a fucking touchdown.
Anyway, if anyone is interested in steampunk then they can check out Steampunk Newfoundland. It’s not always the most organized group and it’s not overly structured but it’s got a lot of heart. There’s an annual picnic and the group always has a few events at Sci-Fi on the Rock. Actually, the steampunk events are some of the few decent things about that con.
If you chose to attend SFOTR, then Steampunk Newfoundland will have an afternoon tea you can attend. It’s often co-hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Lolitas. Then there’s a workshop panel. I can’t tell you much about the other panels. I don’t attend many of them. If you can’t attend a steampunk panel because it clashes with another panel then there’s always the Steampunk Newfoundland table. There, you can talk to group members. And there’s a 95% chance that you’re going to meet Brent, one of the group organizers. He’s always there for the full con and he likes cosplays.
I’ve been to various events outside of SFOTR as well. Every Victoria Day there is a steampunk picnic at Victoria Park. The event is also open to the Lolita and Cosplay groups as well as any normals that want to attend. I’ve been to the picnic in 2014 (in Lolita) and 2015 (in steampunk). I missed the one in 2013. Yet I did attend the Victoria Day picnic in 2012. That was also my first ever steampunk event.
That first experience was a magical time. Not necessarily because I was wowed by the steampunk scene. It was more like someone had performed some strange witchcraft to create nice weather. May 24 weekend in Newfoundland is not nice. It’s just not. If it doesn’t snow then it’s overcast and cold. But this particular weekend was warm. An unnatural magic was afoot.
That day saw myself and Mad in steampunk. Well, I was supposed to be in steampunk. I looked more like Grell from Black Butler. girlpuck was in more casual every day type clothes. There was a deceptively large crowd there- the steampunk events are usually small- as well as a BBQ and tea. Many people brought food or drinks or sweets. The picnic is usually half BBQ/half potluck. We socialised for a bit and then the girls and I ran away to play on the swings.
I may not be a steampunk girl but I do like to play on the swings in costume.
Steampunk Newfoundland doesn’t just attend its own events however. Members of the group will get together to attend events in the city as well. I’ve gone on the St. John’s Haunted Hike with the group and I was told ghost stories by a ghost at Ghosts of Signal Hill. It was because of a post on the steampunk group that the girls and I went to see “The Curious Case of the Colony”, a Sherlock Holmes play at the Newman Wine Vaults. I’ve never gone because I always had to work but Steampunk Newfoundland attends the Royal St. John’s Regatta with the Newfoundland Cosplayers group as well.
I’ve cosplayed in steampunk and attended a steampunk event in New York City. But you can read about those adventures in this entry here.
I actually don’t have that much more to add. You can check out Steampunk Newfoundland here if you’re curious. Steampunk is certainly an interesting thing to participate in. Not every aspect of it is for everyone but it can still be fun.
And on that note, here’s Professor Elemental.
Thanks for reading!
PS. I didn’t realise I had so little to say on the steampunk front. I was planning to do entries on the cosplay and Lolita groups too but I’ve attended even fewer events. Thus, that won’t be happening. But I will leave some links here.