This has been a rough year for me and my household. Right before last year's Steampunk November my back went out in a flare of my chronic condition that made me bedridden for three months or so. Just when I was finally back to my normal level of functioning, in February, my husband lost his job. It meant a lean six months and a very very lean two more months as he worked 3 jobs at once to pay our bills before his new full-time position started paying and we got (somewhat) caught up.
So all that has meant I haven't been to a steampunk event for over a year. I got out to A-kon in Dallas in June and vended the steampunk ball there and that was great. But it's been a long while since I went all out and got together with my tribe.
Steampunk November isn't like any other steampunk event I know of. It's not a convention. This year's headliner Voltaire told a story about how he hadn't realized how different this event was ahead of time. He didn't understand why the map showed trees in the middle of the ballroom. And he thought these crazy Texans were driving him out into the middle of nowhere in the trees to kill him. Until he arrived and saw the site and said "Oh, it's a RENN FAIRE!"
And that's really what Steampunk November most resembles. It's a Renn Faire for Steampunk. A "festival" not a convention. (The name comes from the fact that it originally was held on November 5th: "Remember, Remember Steampunk November.") It's held in a small town about 30 minutes south of Dallas on the private property belonging to some good friends of mine. They (and dedicated volunteers) spend all year improving the site and building new buildings, stages, and this year, rebuilding what was destroyed by area floods.
The event has grown from a large private party to a 3-day much larger private party. This year the space of the festival doubled, with a second vendor area, third stage, and new permanent Saloon building.
The entertainment for the weekend involved several musical acts, belly dancers, circus sideshow acts, an escape artist, and a burlesque troupe late Saturday night. I got to see fewer of these shows than I might have liked, since I was manning my booth. I was located in the main area of the festival where two stages are located, so I heard several acts but didn't really see much of them. The scheduling was handled well, though, so there was always SOMETHING going on, usually something in multiple locations.
In addition to the music and dance there was an afternoon tea and two wine tastings. One of these years I'm going to get a ticket to one of them. I know the people coming OUT of the wine tastings always seem super happy. :)
The weather for the event could have been better, but it could have been worse, since we dodged rain aside from a few sprinkles. It was really overcast and cold (for Texas) and I could have planned my outfit better for the weather. I wore part of my Steampunk Cleopatra, without the trained underskirt (since I didn't want it dragging in the mud/dirt) and a new sweater I knit specifically for the occasion. The sweater was super welcome, but I was still frozen from the knees down. Next year I will have a proper winter outfit! (And it will probably be 80 degrees.)
|My husband, image by Senia Vera Photography|
On a personal note, I was actually pretty miserable on Saturday due to significant back pain and the strenuous day of travel, setting up our booth, and vending. Plus the cold. Which doesn't of course reflect on the event, but limited my enjoyment of it. I made one trip down to the lower area to visit the vendors and the saloon but didn't make it back down there again due to my pain. Sunday I felt much better and was able to enjoy myself more. There were far fewer people present on Sunday, but I actually sold more and got to talk to more friends.
I was impressed in general with the vendors, especially with the variety and quality. Besides the kinds of wares you expect at a steampunk gathering such as clothing, corsets, hats, leather goods, and jewelry, there were varied other craftsmen, including a pottery booth with a working kiln where you could glaze your own piece and have it fired right there.
Diva Dreads. I know four of my friends bought these and we were all walking around going "LOOK AT MY HAIR ISN'T IT COOL." I unfortunately don't have a picture of myself with my hairpieces in, because I didn't buy them until late on Sunday, but for those looking for good steampunk hair options, I'm recommending them.
Overall this is an event put on with a great deal of love and a family/community atmosphere. It's grown every year and I know there are plans to continue that growth. It's a great party celebrating the best of steampunk.