The first Steampunk convention of Texas was a wonderful success. People from all over the United
States came to participate in a uniquely intimate Steampunk Convention.
One of the events included a barrage of Steampunks on promenade to the Alamo. It was a walk of two blocks. Two fabulous blocks that Steampunks were able to show their personas to the world at large. Two blocks of passers-by stopping and staring. Two blocks of questions, and two blocks of people literally pulling their cars to the curb to take photos.
After the photographers from Penland Photography corralled the happy, and slightly giddy bunch of AetherFest Steampunks into order an official group photo was taken directly in front of the legendary Alamo.
For a moment the various tourists who where originally there to marvel over the historic site were sidetracked by the Neo-Victorian interlopers. A sizable crowd of camera toting tourists gathered in front of the posed Steampunks and took their own pictures, both marveling and skeptical emotions playing on their faces.
After the photographs were completed the Emperor of the Red Fork Empire took a moment to
pontificate his mission which is, to put it simply, fighting the “dull”. His voice rose, his arms gestured passionately as he stressed the importance of not letting the “dull” creep into our beings by using one’s innate creativity to fight it.
In a flash he whirled around and pointed with the “The Will of the People” at the “dull”. The tourists who stood before the Steampunk crowd, with their camera’s and fanny packs looked startled. Finally aware that they were indeed the Emperor’s subject matter. “They are the dull! Go speak to them…” He ordered, in which a few of the less bashful Steampunks did venture forth into the land of the “dull” to impress upon the confused tourists the art, mission and beauty of Steampunk.
The Emperor is a most affable and determined man. He is determined to fight the “dull” and his humor and wit never lag while he seeks to pursue his mission. Not surprisingly his panel was a favorite with attendees, as well as The Peacemaker and Lucretia. The Peacemaker and Lucretia flew from New York to be apart of the AetherFest experience. Her panel on multiculturalism is a treasure trove of information for those who know only a smattering about cultural and historical affairs during the Victorian period.
Too soon the large group of Steampunks were heading back to the St. Anthony’s Hotel. The
102 year old St. Anthony was the perfect backdrop for the event. The convention go-ers did not look out of place at the St. Anthony’s…not many Steampunk’s can say that about their conventions. Yet Pablo, Cameron and Jahmes, the chairmen and brains behind AetherFest have the vision and energy to know the St. Anthony would be the perfect place for Texas’s first Steampunk Convention.
The tenth floor (the top floor) was where convention HQ and most of the VIPs were kept. It is also where the most haunted room in the hotel is reported to be. The infamous room 1080. The bathtub is rumored to fill with blood. I asked the Airship who was staying in that room if that was actually the case. The Celestial Rogues said they weren’t willing to take the chance…
It was soon obvious that Steampunk is something different and unique to past punk movements.
The hotel staff and other guests at the hotel frequently commented on the polite and friendly mein of the Steampunks in attendance which encouraged further curiosity and made it easy to spread the knowledge of Steampunk.
The unique intimacy of this event came from the fact that the chairmen did not want numbers to exceed 500 attendees. Unlike other events Steampunks were able to not just meet OM Grey, The Emperor, The Peacemaker and Lucretia and the other panel guests they were able to sit down and build a relationship with them.
Captain Cedric Whittaker of the Airship Isabella reclined in an overstuffed chair and waxed poetic on his vision of the future of Steampunk in the main thoroughfare of Peacock Alley. There was no
pressure to move out of the way of surging crowds. In fact Captains’ and crew of other Airships sprawled on the floor and relaxed on neighboring chairs and settees and bantered ideas of the emerging SCARS organisation. The atmosphere of the whole convention was one of relaxation and friendly community.
The nighttime entertainment did not disappoint. Friday’s nights Opening Ceremonies kicked the Convention off with an Airship dinner on the roof of the hotel, meant to thank and promote active Airships. One representative from each Airship at the dinner was encouraged to come on stage introduce themselves and their ship. Representatives from Airship Nocturne, Isabella, Celestial Rogues, Eden Falls, Constantine, Bonny Reed, Aurora, Calypso and several more trekked to the stage in their Steam finery Friday evening. More Airships showed up later that night and Saturday to take part in the convention.
The roof of the Hotel boasts a stage and large area for dining and dancing with a fabulous view of
downtown San Antonio perfect for the musical entertainment that opened up the night. Master Bones Jangle, and Addisyn Madd serenaded the crowd about Steam and the Sea before the Devil Bunnies Burlesque Troupe took the stage. A mix of 21st century meets 19th century style performers riled up the crowd. Their dances are an eclectic mix of traditional and neo-burlesque, just perfect for the AetherFest crowd. The dinner and its entertainment wound down around 12:30 am. Background music let guests mingle and chat on the rooftop for quite sometime.
Saturday nights performances were quite a treat. Vaudeville Under The Stars is what the event was called in the schedule, and indeed it was just that. Stars winked down on the Marquis of Vaudeville and the acts associated with them. A fog machine and light show gave further ambiance to Poi spinning Steampunks and Flag twirling circus freaks in the crowd. Hipnautica finished up the night with
their new string of Steampunk inspired songs. It was my first time hearing Hipnautica and I was pleasantly surprised. They are self declared Dark World Elektronik, and I must admit I was a little curious how this would meld with the AetherFest vision. It melded beautifully. Their sound was the perfect follow up for the Marquis of Vaudeville. Hipnautica’s heavy electronic sound was wonderfully ethereal. The Steampunks had already had a day out of time, and Hipnautica was the nightcap.
People began to disperse as the music wound down. For the ones who wanted, it was after party time. Room 1040 was the hot spot. Rum flowed freely, and people made merry. Then security said it was getting too rowdy. (Not surprising when three dozen Steampunks are crushed into one suite.) The after party moved back to the roof and the treat of the night happened. A completely acoustic, a completely raw moment under the stars with Master Bones Jangle and his band. Steampunks stomped their feet and threw their partners around to the rhythm of the music. It was wonderful, it was muggy, and it was a completely happy moment for all.
Then I went to bed.
For anyone who participated in AetherFest and would like to share their experiences please leave your comments here and I will post them shortly.
Links to aforementioned:
Links to Airships: