“It is with profound regret and sadness that I must announce that Steamcon in no longer a viable organization. Our debts are too great a hurdle for us to overcome. Based on my calculations, somewhere between 25% and 40% of the funds that we would raise for Steamcon VI will go towards paying off Steamcon V. The board has been wrestling with these economic realities for several weeks now, and voted one week ago to dissolve the corporation.
Since the meeting of January 12th, where we laid out the economic problems that we faced, we have had thirty five people purchase memberships. ( That works out to about one membership every other day. ) We have had three people donate to the CD fundraiser project. ( That is, one and a half donations per month. ) In order to raise the amount of money that we need to stave off bankruptcy, we need 390 memberships in 29 days. Just to tread water.
We could soldier on. We could attempt to raise $15,000 in 29 days. But if we once again fail, that will mean that even more people will be out money. I cannot in good faith recommend that course of action.”
Steamcon wasn’t just my ‘home’ convention, being held in the Seattle area, it was also a convention of Firsts for myself and quite a few others.
While it wasn’t the first solely steampunk themed convention, following Salon Con, which ran from 2006-2008, and Steam Powered in 2008, Steamcon was the most well attended convention (aside from Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey, which has a much different format and more of a music/performance focus) as well as the longest consecutively running US steampunk convention (2009-2013) (Weekend at the Asylum in the UK has also been going since September 2009).
Steamcon I, held in October 2009 at the Marriott by Sea-Tac International Airport, was originally planned and budgeted for 400-600 people. Clearly meeting a need, over 1,000 people (and I’m somewhat remembering that it was closer to 1,200) attended, creating an hours-long at-the-door registration line. The weekend was packed with programming – panels with Author Guest of Honor Tim Powers, the presentation of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, discussions on the history of Victorian clothing, a concert by Abney Park, and so much more!
Steamcon III saw the steampunk triumvirate completed with K.W. Jeter participating in the convention as the event outgrew the Marriott and moved to the Hyatt in Bellevue. The Steamcon Airship Awards continued.
Steamcon IV enjoyed the company of artist Joe Benitez and the concert by Rasputina.
Steamcon V brought artist Brian Kessinger and author S.M. Stirling into the programming, and saw the return of Abney Park. The vendor room was the largest it had ever been, and the expanded Art Show as engaging as ever.
Through it all, there were awards, fashion shows, tea parties, room parties, dozens of music performances, hundreds of panelists, thousands of attendees, and several thousand outfits. It was the big city of steampunk conventions, bringing together people from every corner of the community – literature, art, fashion, music, and even philosophy. Whatever an attendee was looking for, they were bound to find it. It brought people together, created experiences for them, and there will be lasting memories and stories to tell.
Personally, Steamcon was my first steampunk convention, and given that it was practically in my backyard, I couldn’t NOT go, especially having followed the growth of interest and the community for decades, before it even had a name or coherent following. Steamcon I is where I bought my first coat, where I met new friends and colleagues, and where I started a new shelf for all of the books I couldn’t live without. It was also the start of me getting back out into the world after personal loss and tragedy.
Steamcon was where I roomed with Mike Perschon, the Steampunk Scholar (now the Speculative Scholar), partly because it was the only way for us to catch up on things and start a tradition of talking until 3am almost every night. It was where I participated in programming and doing live interviews and panels.
There was always an exciting energy at Steamcon. I was always able to arrive and get settled at the hotel while it was still “just a hotel”, filled with other people with their own stories. Attendees would start to trickle in, some local, some who traveled, some reunions, some new meetings. Meeting rooms and ballrooms were being cleared, cleaned and set up, convention materials were unloaded. The energy and anticipation started to build. There were lobby conversations and drinks in the bar.
Friday morning excitement started early – people were already in their finery, heading out for breakfast, or a promenade around the hotel’s common areas. People were arriving in a steady stream, the construction running faster to be done before the doors opened. Vendors carting in their goods, Artwork being unwrapped for the art show. It was showtime before the official Show Time!
And then, after all the build up of anticipation, we were off like a rollercoaster! The stream of attendees was a torrent, the panels began in multiple tracks, and the activity would continue nonstop until it was suddenly Sunday afternoon and people were saying good bye. A whirlwind of outfit changes, pictures, conversations, and never enough sleep fueled conversations for days, even weeks. It was a tired but contented trip home for so many people, carrying with them the Steamcon spirit.
There isn’t Steamcon VI to look forward to this fall, but as co-founder Diana Vick shared on Facebook –