Monday, April 1, 2013

Steampunk at Gettysburg

G2 Events held Steampunk at Gettysburg, a film, art and music event at the Gettysburg Wyndam Hotel in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This three-day event took place on Friday March 29 through March 31.  There were vendors, performances, films, and lectures, all centering around the fashion, music, films and culture that has sprung from the steampunk literally genre.

The term “steampunk” originally referred to the melding of traditional science fiction themes, such as space and time travel, with fantasy versions of the fashions and technologies of the 19th century. The term was coined in the 1980’s, but its stylistic origins date back to the late 1800’s. Jules Verne’s 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea is often considered the first example of the genre. Many variations of the theme have showed up in literature since. Steampunk has also found its way into many films, such as The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and The Wild, Wild West.  The term has transcended its literary origins and is now also applied to the esthetic itself
            The convention had several rooms and vendors. Bowler hats made partially from clock gears, Victorian-style dresses and corsets, tiny top hats and replica fantasy weapons were all par for the course. For the less fashion-minded, there were also books, traditional English teas, wall decorations, and large variety of novelty items (such as a two-quart liquor flash with a hot air balloon engraving).  Conventioneers could have a glass plate portrait taken, see a bartitsu (a British martial art) demonstration, attend readings by novelists, watch films, and enjoy several music performances.

             Some conventioneers were simply there for the fashion. A woman wearing a man’s suit and a small, straw hat explained, “ My name is E.H. von Staunton, for today. I like to dress up. It’s fun. I go to renn (renaissance) fairs and festivals just to wear costumes that I can’t get away with in my normal life. I like renn fairs, but they are restrictive. You’re kind of limited by the historical context. Steampunk is wide open. It’s based in fantasy, so you’re not restricted.  Just mix antique with fantasy, and you’ve got steampunk."

            Other attendees of the conventions were more interested in literature. Tom Redman, a tall man wearing a copper cowboy hat, said, “I’ve read a lot of steampunk. I just started writing my own short stories, but I still don’t know what I’m doing. I came here meet and talk to steampunk writers who actually have some books out there.”

            There were some event goers who had little knowledge of the genre or its esthetic. Sally Griffin, a part-time graphic designer and mother of two said, “I just brought the kids over because it seemed like fun. We live just up the road. The little one really likes to dress up,” she said while pointing to her small daughter who was wearing a fez and goggles.  “And the older one will read just about anything. I’m glad we showed up.”

The event's organizers plan to make Steampunk at Gettysburg an annual event.   

"E.H. von Staunton",  a Steampunk at Gettysburg conventioneer. 

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