Steampunks: Welcome or Unwelcome?

In the steampunk documentary, Vintage Tomorrows, photographer Libby Bulloff says “When you walk down the street in a top hat and spats, you are causing a riot. You’re making a statement.”

What that intended statement is will be different for each of us, and it may be quite different from what any audience may hear for themselves. Some people will be interested and intrigued, some will perceive it all to be an amusing oddity, and some will give a “What the…?” reaction.

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Lindsay Dowd by MI Geek Scene

At conventions and the smaller regional and local events, we wear what we wear for the event, to embrace the festive spirit, and honestly, to look totally awesome. Those event spaces can also be safe spaces for our attire as we are among like minded people, and usually among accepting venue staff.

Sometime, however, we aren’t always among other who might enjoy the fun nature of steampunk. Several years ago, I commented on how the front desk staff of the St Anthony Wyndham made it quite clear they didn’t want us nor the convention there. Their attitude showed in every thing they did with the attending people. Aetherfest is sadly over, at least for now, and one can only hope that the hotel’s front desk staff has changed over and provides better customer service.

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Diana Vick, co-organizer of Steamcon

Another public event where steampunks weren’t made to feel welcome was in 2014 when security at the Westfield Plaza Mall in Carlsbad ejected a group of steampunks for “wearing apparel that disguises, obscures or conceals the face”. The mall operators never really made a public statement about it and while the situation made the news for a while, it died out as such news stories do.

In August 2016, Sarah Chrisman blogged about her and her husband’s experience at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, Canada. In a nutshell, Sarah felt rudely denied admission to the park because of their everyday-wear, 1800s period style of garments. Apparently, there was sufficient feedback sent to Butchart Garden’s PR department, that they issued a public response. In summary, they said “No period outfits.”

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Jaymee Goh, Silver Goggles blog

Regardless of the accuracy of Sarah’s account, or the brevity of Butchart’s response, the bottom line is that if you are in your finest steampunk-wear, you’ll be denied entry to the gardens. And Disney, and several theme parks, and some museums.

When in doubt, call ahead to see if there will be any problems.

Thankfully, these stories in the media seem like exceptions more than commonplace occurrences. From my own experiences, the vast majority of people like seeing steampunks and our attire. Some pay compliments, some want to get a picture with us, some want to chat and learn more.

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Eric Larson, Teslacon, as Lord Bobbins

The hotel staff at the Madison Marriott West, home of the Teslacon convention, even get into the spirit of the weekend by adding some steampunk items to their workday attire.

When I fly around the country, I’ve taken to wearing at least a vest and dress pants, if not always a steampunk coat (even with those air vents, it gets HOT on the plane!), and my experience on almost every airline is that I feel treated with friendlier, if not better, service.

Lastly, I’ve been in full steampunk attire outside of the actual convention space – restaurants, stores, parks, etc – and while most people might have glanced my way but didn’t say anything one way or another, some people did pass along friendly compliments or inquired about what the outfit and event was all about. There was one time at Steamcon in Seattle, where a gentleman had follwed a group of steampunks back into the hotel, asked about what was going on, and wound up purchasing a ticket for the day.

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Dr. Mike Perschon, Steampunk Scholar blog

What has been your experience?

Has your corset or top hat caused a riot in the streets?

Was there pandemonium and breathlessness caused by your polite mannerisms?

Did you find yourself surrounded by new fans and Facebook friends?

 

Share your stories below, and keep being awesome!

 

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Published in: on August 17, 2016 at 8:55 pm  Comments (7)  
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Abney Park, and Piracy!

The following is a Facebook post by Robert Brown of Abney Park. With his permission, I wanted to share this with you as part of my mantra of “Support Our Community”.

Why? Because the authors, artists, musicians, content creators, and everyone else who contributes to the creativity and greatness of our community needs our support. Not just our thanks, and moral encouragement. They need our financial support, too, in their business, to pay their bills, and to be able to keep creating the awesome things they do.

If we didn’t buy the books, authors, big publishers, and self publishers would have no incentive at all to keep writing and releasing them aside from internal altruistic motivations. If we don’t buy prints, how can our artists continue to create? If we don’t buy our props and fashions and accessories from within the community, maybe there will come a time when there aren’t any of those things available.

Certainly, money is tight all around for everyone these days. It makes fiscal sense to find the lowest price on something. But it also makes sense to support those people and ideas which are important to you. Is the big box or online corporation what you want to support with your hard earned dollars, or would you rather support a community in which you actively participate? What is that you believe in?

It’s a hard thing to hear in convention vendor rooms and read in online chatter, “I bought this from <Big Corporation> instead of <small steampunk vendor>.” If you don’t support those things which are important to you, then why would anyone else? If you don’t support others in the community, why would they support you?

WARNING: This is Robert’s unedited and uncensored post. it may contain language that some may find offensive. If that might be you, then stop reading now.

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The day our new album was released, we shipped it. Almost everybody who bought a CD at zero hour got it in a couple days, and many lucky people received theirs the very next day.

That’s the day it hit the pirate and torrent sites: the day after it went on sale. Within 24 hours of it going on sale, it was being pirated.

Typically, we stall. We put it on sale one day, then ship two weeks later. The goal is to have two weeks of honest sales before people start stealing it. Just two week to sell what we’ve spent thousands on, and a year creating, before it stolen. But stalling meant people sent angry emails, “I ordered this two days ago! FUCK YOU, I DONT HAVE IT!” (That’s a very short version, the real emails were long and cruel, and our poor shipping girl…well, you get the idea.)

So this time, we stood buy in the studio, and shipped from the first possible second. All this did was make sure it was available to be stolen the first possible second.

I had a “fan” write to me, 26 hours after the cd went on sale, and a full week BEFORE it was available for download. She said, “I just downloaded the album! I love it! You are my all time favorite band!” There is no way she could have downloaded it with stealing it. What am I supposed to say to her? I choose to say, “thanks.”

Why do I tell you this? Well, currently being dishonest is very easy. It’s really up to each individual to decide who they want to be. Do you want to be the type that spends $150 a month on your cable and cell phone, but won’t spend $10 on the artist that inspires your life? Or do you want to be the type of person that says, “I know I CAN be a bad guy, but I choose not to. I choose to support the artists I believe in.”

That’s up to you, but I’ll tell you this, I feel we are starting to see more and more fans who get it. People are starting to understand that musicians aren’t rich, most of us don’t have some major corporation supporting us (that why you like us: we don’t sound like something a corporation would fund), and we musicians are all struggling against the odds to have s somewhat stable life doing what you want us to do: make inspiring music.

 

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Steampunk People are the Best People

I often comment how steampunk activities all come down to the great people involved.

 

There are the people with the drive and motivation who step up and make things happen. They create our small local events, and ongoing local social groups and airships, as well as the larger events like concerts, vendor events, and conventions. Without these people leading the social charge, many of us would never meet in person. We’d all still be only online in forums and social media.

 

There are the content creators, artists, makers, and musicians who bring some amazing creativity to life. We have ongoing blogs, interviews, articles, and discussions forums to keep us informed and connected. From them, we also get to see, and emulate, some spectacular props and artwork. The music of our community is as varied as it was in the 1800s, and there’s something to entertain everyone.

 

All of these things bring us together as a community, one where it’s easy to start a conversation, and make new connections, and ultimately make new friends.

 

All of us have great stories after an event where we stayed in touch with people via social media, or met again at the next event. Our community is global, and it’s not a difficult thing through modern technology to reach out to others and meet new people with similar interests.

 

It might be emails, or instant messages and texts, it might be afternoon tea with visitors from out of town. It might be endless temptation of tea, cheese, chocolate, and late night chats. However we express it, the steampunk community is so rewarding in so many ways.

 

Thanks to all of you for your warmth, support, and friendship. It’s always fun to chat with you at events, and to exchange emails all throughout the year.

 

Repeating my parting remarks at Steampunk Invasion 2014:

 

Be who you are.

Do what you do.

Encourage each other.

Support the community.

 

Published in: on November 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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