I spent the weekend in Corpus Christi at Realms Con. This con was significant for two reasons: it was the first con the Airship Octavia XIII attended as a group, and Abney Park was there.
The crew of the Airship Octavia XIII
To be absolutely honest, the only reason we were at the con was for Abney Park. We were lucky enough that they played both Friday and Saturday nights. They were spectacular both nights, but Saturday's show had an extra quality of awesomeness to it. I saw AP at A-Kon in 2010 (my first steampunk event!), and even though they were great then, they are even better now. The band has gained a new guitarist, who adds some great crunch to their sound, and as a whole the band seems more on their game. It was very difficult for this disabled girl to stay seated and refrain from dancing and jumping around, but I (mostly) managed.
As for the con itself, it was smaller than I expected. Since it's held at a convention center, I expected it to be larger and have more attendance. But they really only have a small corner of the convention center set aside for the con. Attendance may have been hurt by the Guest of Honor, Tom Felton, backing out at the last minute, but honestly, I don't know what attendance numbers were, or what they were expected to be. It seemed a shame that the Abney Park shows were only half-full, but Corpus is a long drive from pretty much everywhere. If I were running the con I would probably try to find a hotel that could house it, as I think having it at a convention center may have cut the attendees. Having to leave the venue to change, eat, or rest, means many may not have returned. Especially when they have to pay for parking. So that's my $.02, for what it's worth.
However, I do have to commend all the con staff and volunteers as everyone I interacted with was friendly, nice, and laid back. There were no security nazis harassing anyone, and I didn't get yelled at once. (Except for the convention center employee who told my friend she couldn't have her bottle of coke because there was no "outside food or drink." She informed him she bought it from the machine downstairs... Some people.)
As for the activities of the Airship Octavia XIII, we mostly wandered about and chatted with other steampunks in attendance. It was lovely to see everyone and get a chance to actually talk and hang out. The vibe of the weekend was very chill. I know the steampunk panels put on by Airship Isabella were generally standing-room only, as we couldn't get in to one.
Finally, I have to give yet more props to Abney Park. After their Saturday evening show, they provided autographs to a horde of fans. The items people got signed were increasingly entertaining. I know people who had them sign their goggles, gun, flask, leather gaiters, wallet, and who knows what else. Silly me only got my Abney Park RPG book signed. There was some kind of techno dance party going on in another corner of the con floor, and all the steampunks in front of AP's table started dancing to the music, at which point Nathanial and Jodi hopped the table and joined in to our silly dance party. And then AP posed for pictures with anyone who wanted it.
Octavia XIII with Abney Park.
To our surprise, we later ran into the band and some of our steampunk friends back at the hotel. There was an afterparty out on the hotel deck on the beach, and we grabbed some of our liquor and joined in. I think it's safe to say that everyone who was present got completely blitzed, but we had a blast. The band were lovely people, and the evening was emblematic of everything right about the steampunk community: enthusiasm, silliness, a welcoming open-arms attitude, respect, community, family, and having a good time.
It was a weekend I will never forget, and I can't wait to see everyone again.