At the risk of repeating myself in a convention review,
O.M.G. (insert your own G here).
While Asylum was happening in England, Steampunk Invasion was happening in Dallas, Texas during September 12-14. If you had thought about attending and missed this first year convention, you missed an amazingly immersive and entertaining event!
And of course, there was this early video tour of the location by organizer Jim Trent.
The convention, like Dallas, was loaded with history.
Dallas’s history includes being a site for the Caddo Native American tribe, later being claimed by both the Spanish and French, a trading post which led to a permanent settlement, the arrive of the steam train lines doubled the city’s population in 1872. In the 20th century, Dallas became a center of banking, insurance, and fashion retailing among other things. Dallas also saw the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi River. There was the East Texas oil boom in 1930, and of course, one of the most famous historical events in American history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
The grassy knoll of Dealey Plaza was only several blocks from the Hotel Indigo, where incoming guests and attendees stayed. It’s a nearly 90 year old hotel which boasts a good deal of old trim and woodwork after various renovations. Side note, for a bit of history about the hotel, it was built in 1925 for Conrad Hilton in response to the building of the luxurious Adolphus hotel.
The biggest bit of history for the convention really comes in the form of the Dallas Heritage Village, the location for the convention. It was an amazing location and really did create an immersive feeling for the weekend. The historic buildings, which include a bank, saloon, town hall, church, school, and homes, all date from the 1800s and really set the mood for a steampunk weekend.
It was easy to slip right into a steampunk world, walking away from the registration book and parking lot, down the cobblestone streets, past houses and fixtures that would be right at home in any steampunk world setting.
Friday night was all about mixing, mingling, and musical performances. Drinks could be had in the operating saloon, and the weather was perfect to sit on the street benches, just enjoying the evening, watching the endless promenade of people in their finest outfits. It was one of those relaxing, immersive moments when one might wonder why we don’t do this every Friday night.
It only took a look up and past the tree line, or the vibration of a cell phone, to be momentarily pulled out of the steampunk moment and be reminded of the 21st century world outside our bubble environment and the bit of real life waiting when the weekend was over. Thankfully, though, returning to our world was easy enough, and the gentility and enjoyment of the evening continued. This happened to me several times, where I was totally caught up in the immersion, and it was always a bit disappointing when I was pulled out of the moment.
Saturday was off to a rousing start of panels and performances. While I got to talk about Steampunk around the Country and The Steampunk Museum, the day was filled with great panels from Cedric Whittaker and the crew of the Airship Isabella, fashion and costuming, art, grooming, and mourning customs. One of my favorite panels was Victorian Medicine, held in the school house where attendees sat in the real wooden desk-seats of the time. It was a fascinating insight to medical “treatments’ of illness and injury.
One other exciting programming track was for the younger set. A full day of activities for children. Steampunk has often been family friendly and a fun time for everyone of all ages, but it was nice to see Steampunk Invasion create a set of panels and activities for the kids.
Something else I noticed at this convention was the great number of photographers roaming around. I was glad they were there since I know their photos were going to turn out far better than mine.
Here’s a few links
Steampunk Invasion — Friday Part I by Joseph Hernandez
Steampunk Invasion — Saturday Part I by Joseph Hernandez
Steampunk Invasion — Saturday Part III by Joseph Hernandez
Steampunk Invasion 2014 by Ron Wheeler
Some of the Press were around, too
Also filling the day were performances by Carnival Epsilon, a shoot out at the bank when the Mayoral voting box was being stolen, and several rounds of the exciting and dangerous art and sport of Tea Dueling.
While I did participate in a bit of street dueling the previous night, I generally refrained from the afternoon’s challenges. However, I was “encouraged” to participate in a Celebrity Duel with Airship Admiral Joshua Cross, hosted and called out by Madame Askew. There were gentlemanly taunts, evil eyes, and a hint of another kind of duel at dawn, but after the suspenseful tension caused by dunking, a bit of laughter-induced wobbling, and the more advanced dueling techniques of standing, Dosey Doe, and a second dunking, this epic battle between the Ambassador and the Admiral came down to a decision in favor of … a tie!
Good duel, Admiral, good duel. But next time …
One other story related to Tea Dueling – my airship to and from Dallas was American Airlines, and was generally an uneventful trip. Aside from a problematic seat-recliner sitting in front of me. Having walked past me while I was clearly working on my laptop, on this very review, in fact, this person opted to fully recline into my work space, eliminating my ability to use said laptop. I was most peeved at this intrusion, but dear readers, take comfort that I was the model of restraint and decorum, and the incident did not escalate to the need to be settled by Tea Dueling, although the thought certainly crossed my mind.
Refreshed after a break for dinner and outfit changes, attendees were treated a night of grand music from the Marquis of Vaudeville, The Cog is Dead, and Montague Jacques Fromage. People sat on blankets and on the street benches, enjoying their Village popcorn and saloon drinks, while others danced the night away. It was an amazing evening, all around, and even better to share it with friends, old and new.
Sunday, with people moving a little slow first thing in the morning, brought the wrap up panels hosted by organizer Jim Trent. First was the commentary about this year’s convention, and the wish list for next year. This was followed by an engaging discussion about the Future of Steampunk, and finally wrapping up with the Closing Ceremony, thanking everyone who helped create this amazing first year event.
If you like a healthy dose of historical immersion in your convention location, a variety of panel topics by, for, and about our community, and rousing musical performances, this is a convention to add to your 2015 schedule.
If you did attend, Jim sent out this comment to all of us,
” Please send a Thank You email subject line “Steampunk Invasion” to their Executive Director at :
We want to let these folks know how much we enjoy the site, appreciate their efforts and look forward to doing it again. Please drop them an email today.”
Steampunk Invasion 2015 will return to the Dallas Heritage Village, and ticket information will be announced soon.