It was a cloudy Saturday afternoon in Dallas. There was no winds but the temperature was oddly cool for the start of the fall season. Everyone who arrived came in their most comfortable attire, goggles and all, to watch several other people shoot each down on Main Street... I know what you're thinking: Who was the victor of that shootout? To be fair everyone's a victor at Steampunk Invasion.
I apologize. I believe that I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. My name is Joseph C. Wylie. But in the Steampunk Universe, my name is Jefferson Grover Sawyer, J.G. Sawyer for short, and I am a dimensional-traveling, astronomer, road scholar, scientist, and part-time scoundrel for The Flying Rapscallion: The Only Quintessential, Inter-dimensional, Planetary, Authoritative Steampunk Aficionado Newspaper Outlet, In The Well Known Space-Time Continuum.
For who have used had their minds turned upside-down just now:
The First Unofficial Rule Of Steampunk.
Create your character, and just go with it.
It has been quite some time that I have done some correspondent work for The Flying Rapscallion, but in any situation, it is best to put your boot forward and take the first step, then another step and another step. When I arrived through the front gate, I was greeted by several fair damsels, who served as the welcoming committee of this year's Steampunk Invasion held at the legendary Copper Springs.
A rare find indeed. Copper Springs served as an oasis for all lovers of Steampunk who would like to be in familiar soundings. If you like to take a leisurely stroll down Main Street, you can do it. Take a tour of the several Victorian-Style homes that are spread throughout the landscape, you can do it. Enjoy lovely banter at a nearby saloon or vender's market, you can do that also. It helps not to pay any attention to the strange urban architecture or the horseless carriages that pass by outside of town.
What was also so intriguing was the number of foreigners or outsiders ( I believe) that were also at this year's congregation of like-minded forward thinkers. Now an outsider is clearly someone who doesn't dress in the usual attire or outfit that I and several others would dress in our everyday lives (alternate world or not) which leads me to...
The Second Unofficial Rule of Steampunk:
Don't know what to wear, always go Victorian-Era.
There is nothing wrong with wearing a simple two-piece or three-piece suit or a dress from the late 19th century. Doesn't have to be over the top or too scandalous. But if you feel a little uncomfortable with the garb, your instincts will never lead your astray. But in all honestly, wearing that much cotton fabric in the outdoors, can also be a fight or flight ultimatum.
When I entered into the vendor's market of Steampunk Invasion, all of the merchandise was out on display. Anyone who is looking for a new outfit to try on or to purchase steam-powered weaponry, or just looking to take home an accessory were welcomed. At the center of the market was the infamous Airship Isabella, a Louisianan company who has become a central compass of the whole convention. If you wanted to bone up on your alternate-history, they are the avenue to visit. I was very inspired by a panel speech given by the leader of Airship Isabella, Captain Whittaker that was held at the local church.
Steampunk is Science Fiction Fantasy. That's it. Back in those times, no one really knew what the future holds, and yet there have been so many theories, visions, directions and worlds that the genre has birthed and everyone including myself couldn't get enough of it. From the words of Capt. Whittaker, he said this:
"After 9/11 happened, for six months everyone cared."
What makes Steampunk so appealing is that there is such a place where manners, human decency, a sense of pride, self-worth, and purpose could co-exist in one place. I consider myself a history buff. There are a lot of things that has happened in the past that are amazing and at times, very unflattering. But when you take a piece of the good elements of history, gleam over the bad, and maintain the sense of wonderment, imagination, and adventure, you could become something more than just another average Joe without a voice. Or a woman not being taken seriously. Or a square peg being forced into a round hole. You can be whatever you want to be. Who are we to judge.
For the remainder of the day, I was able to observe Victorian fencing lessons. I was able to converse with Mary Jane Kelly, and Captain James Fisk, the creators of Steampunk Invasion. Ate free popcorn. Stepped into a TARDIS, walked on top of Thurber Bricks, spoken with a genuine Airship Ambassador, and listened to the Steampunk rendition of Backstreet Boys, "I want it that way" at a western saloon.
The location was definitely key. While most conventions are either done at a Hotel or some convention center that's located in the heart of the city or at some open field in the middle of nowhere, a city's historical district works incredibly well for a Steampunk convention which raises its authenticity 100 fold. Dallas Heritage Village is not only an ideal location for Steampunk Invasion this year, having this location next year may be something to take into future consideration.
Later in the evening, we enjoyed Steampunk music. Now it's an acquired tastes but performers like Montague Jacques Fromage, The Cog is Dead, and Marquis of Vaudville (rounding out the concert) aren't here to amuse you. They're here to party to an audience.
Check out this music video of The Cog is Dead:
In the end, I had a blast and so did my Steampunk Alter ego. J.G. Sawyer. Which brings me now to...
The Final Unofficial Rule of Steampunk:
Advertise, Advertise, and Advertise.
Check these people out:
Sites that sell Steampunk Wears and Accessories:
Find ways to contribute to this upcoming Steampunk Inspired Short Film: Rocket-Boy
Also, there's an upcoming Steampunk Convention coming this November: