Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Steampunk Symposium Part I: Con Report!

You've all been waiting for this one, haven't you? That's right, it's time for the con report!

This was my second year attending Steampunk Symposium. Last year was the first year of the con. I have to say, while the hotel was nicer this year, I actually liked it less. The staff were very rude, the service was horrible, and the physical layout of the hotel wasn't as amenable to just hanging out and meeting people as the previous location. Each panel, section, etc, was very segregated from the other parts of the convention. It was also a lot more expensive than last year--almost double the price per room (granted, the rooms were a lot nicer looking and more comfortable, but the other problems kind of negated it.

All that aside, however, we did have a great time. 

Friday kicked off the panels. The first one we attended was on corset making. It was absolutely fascinating, but I'm not quite ambitious enough to give it a go just yet. Missouri is contemplating it, however. We'll see what she comes up with. 

Following that, we hosted our own panel on Maintaining History. There was talk of costumes and typewriters, old books and leather. Not many people showed up, but the ones that did asked some good questions and I think that they enjoyed it. 

Speaking of typewriters, I did spot one while we were there: 

This Underwood was being used as a prop at one of the booths. It's in great condition (despite my poor photography). I wanted to play with it a little, but no one was manning the booth and  didn't want to be poking at things that didn't belong to be, so I walked away reluctantly. The next time we went by the booth it was gone.

I also spotted this phonograph machine by the check in; I thought it was quite cool, especially since it still had the cylinders.

We only did one other panel that night, since we were both tired: Con Sociology, the Zen of Flirting. At lot of the things in that panel could be used for general networking, but it was a lot of fun and the host was hilarious.

There were, of course, parties aplenty on both Friday and Saturday nights, but neither Missouri nor I are much for large parties. For starters, neither of us drinks or enjoys being around people who are drinking, so we spent our evenings relaxing in our room and making tweaks to our costumes.

On Saturday, we did some shopping in the morning. I think that there were more vendors this year than last, but there was a lot less variety in their wares. A few stands outs included hand-blended teas, a purveyor of vintage kimono, and leather top hats. There were a lot of people selling corsets and costumes of various sorts, but most were quite expensive (not overpriced, mind, but most people don't got to a convention with $150, $200+ dollars to spend in the dealers room). There was less jewelry and accessories than last year, but a lot more author tables, which I whole-heartedly support. I heard a rumor that a publisher had a booth in the dealer's room, but we searched it thoroughly and couldn't find it.

For me, the highlight of the entire weekend came on Saturday afternoon, when we took a stage fighting class. Fencing, to be specific. Most of the class was using rapiers, but they ran out when they got to me so I got to play with a cane sword. Here I am (or at least my back) practicing part of the routine they were teaching use. 

Did I mention? The class was taught by this guy, who arranged the fight scenes in the Highlander TV series and Hook, which was one of my favorite movies as a kid. So cool! So much fun! I really want to take fencing lessons now!

We finished off Saturday with more costuming panels on bustles and corset fitting, and one on Victorian mysticism and occult beliefs, and hilarious panel on Victorian Erotica. I don't think I stopped laughing for the entire hour. Sunday wound things down with Goths in Steampunk, and LGBTQ in Steampunk.

The panels were all great, but I wish they were longer. All of the panels this year were one hour, and most would have been better served to be 2-3 hour workshops.

This is going rather long so check back on Friday for all the details on the costumes, the books, and what I was making while I was there!


  1. Sounds like a heap of fun to be had! I love the Wax Cylinder player.

  2. Sounds like great fun! I look forward to part 2.