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An Explanation of Steampunk

Arts >

Steampunk is blowing up!

The sci-fi / fantasy-based subculture that most had never heard of 2 years ago has become a full blown national movement.

Brown Paper Tickets sells tickets for a ton of these events and it seems like steampunk-themed events have increased significantly over the last year. This last November in Seattle, the second annual SteamCon more than doubled their venue capacity and sold-out almost instantly, attracting hundreds of girdled and moustachioed attendees (complete with vintage goggles, top hats, and mechanical talking parrots) from the world over.

So, what is Steampunk? SteamCon’s vice-chair Diana Vick described it as “Victorian science fiction” in a recent the CityArts article, “Steampunk Frontier:”

It should be set in the Victorian era, roughly 1837 to 1901. Whatever technology is being used, it should run on steam. Clockworks or mechanical power sources work too. Steampunk has a few common themes – exploration, mad science, invention, transportation and alternate histories. If you’re looking at something that contains something from each of those categories, you can be pretty safe in calling it steampunk.

Here’s a great YouTube video about a recent exhibition at Oxford University that does a great job at explaining the artistic aesthetic surrounding SteamPunk.


Sound like something you’d be interested in? Well, we can recommend two stellar Steampunk events that are coming up in Seattle and Atlanta.

The first is the Steampunk Exhibition Ball this Saturday, January 22 at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry, an amazing setting for the vintage sounds of Miss Mamie Lavona and her White Boy Band and Toy Box Trio in the “waltzing ballroom.” There will also be burlesque dancers, a Hall of Wonders, a tea room, a Beard & Moustache Competition and a Fabulous Hat Competition. Not many tickets left for this one so jump on it! Tickets available here.

Atlanta’s third annual Steamfest is happening on April 9 & 10 so you’ve got some time to plan for this one. It’s a whole weekend of entertainment happening at the Avondale Estates with music, Thimblerig Circus, and high tea. They’ll also be featuring workshops, puppetry adventures from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, airship wars, and a costume contest/fashion show. Chances are these tickets will start to disappear as we get closer to April so get yours now here.

Steamgirl image courtesy of The Seattle Steampunk Exhibition website.