My very first encounter with Steampunk was at my first Wicked Faire in 2010. A few vendors here and there were selling accessories with knobs and gears and some of the patrons were dressed in this unfamiliar fashion — though at the time I would not say it was the majority. At first I found Steampunk very unappealing. It’s interesting, I thought, but not for me. One of the reasons I felt distant from it was because I found the aesthetic to be too masculine. As a girl who prefers her lace and velvet over copper and leather, looking out at bunch of waistcoats and top hats, I saw nothing that called out to my inner girly-girl. If one was going to go Victorian, I reasoned, one might as well go Japanese-inspired Lolita, rather than Steampunk.
My other issue with Steampunk was that it was taking over my other cons! Wicked Faire was becoming Steampunk World’s Fair: The Prequel, Anime cons were infiltrated, and most importantly, it even started cropping up at Renaissance Faires, 300 years out of place. I felt resentment for the growing cult and maybe even a little disdain for this baby fad, much younger than the cultures of Goth and Rennie that I related to. But of course, Steampunk turned out not to be a fad, but rather a burgeoning subculture, equally valid as any other, and here to stay whether I liked it or not.
So what changed my mind, and ultimately led me to consider myself “one of them” – a certified steam punk? First, I fell in love with the con atmosphere. I couldn’t get enough and acceded to accompany a friend to Steampunk World’s Fair in addition to Wicked, just to get another taste of a three-day dream land, even if Steampunk wasn’t quite my thing. I love dressing up, so I tried to pull together an appropriately Steampunk ensemble from my existing Lolita and Ren Faire garb. Then, said friend got drawn quickly into the inner circle, introducing me to many new friends along the way. Simply from spending time with these people, I learnt how to make goggles and a bustle from scratch, learnt the ins and outs of Steampunk con drama, was introduced to people more and more deeply involved in the scene, and eventually, through these connections, became a presenter at Steampunk World’s Fair 2013. I taught a waltz lesson as Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with my sister, and could no longer deny that I was part of this world.
And by then, I was also no longer ashamed to admit it. I found the girly side of steampunk in corsets and striped stockings, found the people friendly, mannerly, and well-read, and found myself glad to see familiar faces at every con, rather than resentful that the genres were mixing. I started incorporating Steampunk motifs in my craft line on etsy, SidheChic. I even began to dress in a mixture of Rennie and Steampunk style at both Wicked Faire and Steampunk World’s Fair. Although I took a while to come around to it, the sheer enthusiasm and friendliness in the Steampunk community make it hard to resist.