When they say the Steampunk World's Fair is immersive, they don't just mean put on a top hat and blend in! Where most cons will charge you to enter and the amount of things you can do for free within are slim pickins', SPWF packs in that bang for your buck with round the clock musical performers in the larger areas and buskers around every corner to fill any dead air space, sideshow performers, belly dancers, fire dancers, comedians, experts laying down their knowledge on everything from classical fighting techniques, and creating steampunk tales to Victorian dress making and the history of tea. This is one show where, if you engage, you will feel like you've gotten your money's worth 3 times over.
As I'm a big fan of immersion and have discovered cons are 120% more fun to cover if you are wearing a costume, I strapped on my Steampunk Finn from Adventure Time gear and added some facial bruises to make it the "Jacked Up" edition. Lord forbid I wear exactly the same exact costume twice. I met up with Jess and some friends to run through the convention, which can take you a full day if you are JUST going from room to room looking at all the vendors merch and generally meeting people along the way as you stop them for photos. Of note this year was a very strict policy to "ask politely before taking pictures", no doubt a rule put in place to squash any uncomfortable moments we heard about at last year's bigger comic cons. Though it seems like a moot point at a con notorious for a ridiculously mellow vibe, it's good to put such a thing in writing and, as the show grows, lay down the law for the new folks stumbling into this sea of corseted ladies and their well dressed chaperones.
To my extreme amusement, not only was this a crowd deeply in love with all things Doctor Who (as evidenced by little touches all around the show), but a great deal of the vendors and guests knew Adventure Time...and since this wasn't a comic book/cartoon heavy atmosphere, I could count myself as the sole Finn (a miracle in itself) and was happy to bring a smile to lots of faces. Performers running past with tiny bells jingling yelling "Hi Finn!" will never get old. We spent the day browsing intricate leather work, mind blowing costumes, and in the very corner of every 6th booth or so, I was pleased to find some toys to pick over. Alternating from the crowded and cramped hotel halls and vendor spaces to the outside courtyards before venturing into another inside space kept us well ventilated. One thing about steampunk gear....there's a lot of it. I don't think there's any such thing as a "comfortable" steampunk outfit...just how many layers you feel like torturing yourself in. Hey..if it wasn't fun, we wouldn't do it at all, so there you go. SACRIFICE! You bleed for your art...we sweat behind our goggles.
As the day slipped away, I ran into more excellent costumes than I could have imagined, like steampunk versions of Raven from Teen Titans, Jem, Groucho and Harpo Marx, The Avengers and the cast of Hook. Curiously, this crowd seems to be veering away from the delicate art of the mash-up in favor of imaginative freestyle and personal creations complete with back stories. We caught a beautiful display by Silk Aerialist Azkadelia: The Mad Hattress and then split up for a bit. I tracked down "This Way To The Egress" (my favorite band at the fair), and shoved some food in my face before watching a funny and impressive fire performance from Hubris. I rounded out the night with the ladies of Ink and Paint Burlesque and many, many drinks...because it was Vodka O'Clock and that's the proper way to end your day.
Click HERE for our full gallery from Steampunk World's Fair 2014!
Thanks to Jeff Mach and the crew of the Steampunk World's Fair for another amazing show!
Additional image from Knightmare6 Photography