Steampunk events: what is steampunk?

You might not know what ‘steampunk’ means and maybe you have never attended steampunk events. I didn’t know what the term meant until a few months ago whilst wasting time on Etsy, only to discover that ‘steampunk‘ is a category for jewelry and other handmade things. With further research, the definition of ‘steampunk’ unveiled itself to me. Steampunk is, as Wikipedia so eloquently puts it: “a sub-genre of science-fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used (usually Victorian era Britain or “Wild West“-era United States) and one that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. This technology includes such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the contemporary authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, and China Mieville.“The manifestation of steampunk culture is often first seen in fashion, but the rules of steampunk fashion are loose and, according to most sources, open to interpretation. Victorian-era clothing meets robotics and electronics initially comes to mind. Pair these things together to work up a mental image and perhaps, in doing so, you will find you’ve been a steampunk all along and didn’t even know it: welded-together jewelry pieces thick with metal and parts of other things (clocks, piping, tools, etc.), corsets, top hats, floor-length gowns, button-down vests, goggles, leather straps, chains, and, in general, a mix of old-style with new-style. Ring any bells? Remind you of anyone you know?

For a term that’s been around so long, it’s a wonder more people don’t know it off-hand. Once we escape from the make-believe worlds wherein steampunk notions are traditionally held, there’s an appealing reason to take notice of the steampunk subculture in everyday life, especially during our travels. Steampunk, if the aesthetic appeals to you, can help direct your travels. Below are some resources for finding steampunks and related activities to help guide your 2012 travels.

Steampunk Events

1. The Steampunk World’s Fair
May 18-20 in Pascataway, New Jersey
The purported world’s largest steampunk festival will be infiltrating Pascataway, New Jersey. With Absinthe tastings, live music, performance art, and specially-brewed teas, The Steampunk World’s Fair 2012 is bound to put on a show to remember.

2. The Anachronism NYC
Follow these guys for updates on their exciting steampunk events in NYC. Burlesque, sideshow, vaudeville, live music, fire-dancing, and art are all part of what make these events successful in New York. Their website currently promises an update on the next event at the end of February, so stay tuned.

3. Steampunk Chicago
Game nights, movie trips, parties–Steampunk Chicago organizes it all. If it’s steampunk enough and happening in Chicago, these guys are all over it.

4. Coal City Steam

The Coal City Steam website brings steampunk event listings from all over the USA together. Check out the site’s event listings for a country-wide scope on steampunk happenings.

5. Tor has a good events section for steampunk activities taking place in the USA and Canada (and perhaps beyond).