The big question, what is steampunk? a difficult question at first glance.
Steampunk is a fictional take on the Victorian era of history , it is the glorification of the past and the future that creates a truly unique subculture.
Imagine if you will that human technology stopped advancing when everything was powered by Steam engines and Clockwork, no electricity or nuclear power exists.
This is the world of steampunk, where people are wearing Victorian fashions and styles such as waistcoats, corsets and top hats but accessoried with steam or Clockwork powered gadgets and gizmos.
A Clockwork world of wonder
A world where people tip their hat and bid you good morning, where everyone is pleasant and kind with the only arguments being weither milk goes in the cup first or last when one makes a cup of tea.
Steampunk takes the best parts of Victorian society and adds some of the more modern practises such as equal rights and inclusivity.
Where steam power drives cogs and gears to run everything from clock towers to futuristic computers and space rockets.
“Steampunks are friendly people and have a reputation of being eccentricly minded…”
Steampunks are friendly people and have a reputation of being eccentricly minded and good natured. An example of this would be walking back to my hotel room after a late night steampunk party.
When in the pitch dark of night a young woman of no aquintence calls out to me to wait for her, she runs up to me linking her arm within mine and proceeds to walk by my side.
She said that she knew she would be now be safe purely because I was wearing a steampunk costume. Telling me she knew steampunks had the reputation of being decent people.
Events such as this make me feel proud to be a steampunk, that no matter how small a group we may be compared to the rest of the world we are doing some good and we’re doing it while having fun and sometimes looking a little silly.
So where does the “punk” fit into it?
The word punk usually summons the image of someone violent or somewhat of a rebel, this couldn’t be further than the truth when it comes to steampunks.
But we do rebel against the decline of manners and decency by being splendid and dressing smart.
The “punk” in steampunk is more representative of our freedom to dress in our own way and not conform the “normal” that society scares you into conforming to in case of ridicule.
Being “different” has become something to be afraid of and we rebel against that. Do what you wish but don’t hurt people, just be yourself and always be splendid. These are the core principles of steampunk and the closest you’ll ever find to some kind of “rule”.
The joy of steampunk is the complete lack of rules to what is allowed to be called “steampunk” a good example of this is the inclusion of futuristic ideals such as laser guns, space ships, jetpacks and more (all steam powered of course).
How it all started
The term “steampunk” started life in 1987 as a tongue-in-cheek reference to several stories written by Tim Powers, James Blaylock and Kevin Jeter all set in the Victorian era and featured technologies powered by Steam.
The most famous of these would be the books written by authors H. G. Wells and Jules Verne whose stories written much earlier before “steampunk” was even a category to be classified within, these would become timeless classics and enjoyed by millions even today. Many steampunks write their own stories and novels and many of which can be purchased online creating a massive library of content for a genre which isn’t exactly mainstream.
“Steampunk doesn’t need to be based within the 1800’s… “
Some steampunks draw inspiration from more modern sources such as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Harry Potter and more, they keep those fictional worlds intact but replace what powers those societies with steam. A good example of this would be blasters and lasers powered by Steam or entire clockwork space ships exploring the galaxy.
Steampunk doesn’t need to be based within the 1800’s, it just needs to include the values and mannerisms. This makes steampunk highly inclusive in terms of what your interests are and allows for some truly imaginative costumes and designs.
Dress to impress
Steampunk clothing can be vastly varied, many like wear costumes heavily inspired by British military uniforms of the Victorian era where others prefer the Lord and Lady splendor of top hats and corsets.
Either way a mainstay of dressing for steampunk will usually include a pair of steampunk goggles to shield the eyes or placed upon the hat above the brim, a shiny pocketwatch tucked away in the pocket of a waistcoat and especially for ladies a hand fan to keep cool and playfully hide behind.
Just like what inspires steampunk itself, the clothing can have a wide field of interests to build from with some steampunks avoiding the Victorian era completely and wearing a costume that draws all it’s inspiration from sci-fi.
Interior design is a popular area in which people like to add a steampunk flare or Victorian vibe to. Building wooden and brass lamps to light their houses or using copper pipes to build steampunk shelving. It can be quite common for steampunks to slowly transform their houses into something that could come straight out of a Jules Verne novel.
Even music has been influenced by steampunk, over the years several artists and bands have declared themselves as being steampunk.
From dressing the part to creating personas, costumes and even song lyrics. Singing robots or even rapping about cups of tea, steampunk music can vary wildly and are always a lot of fun.
Some notible personalities of this music genre include: “Steam Powered Giraffe“, “Alice’s Night Circus“, “Professor Elemental” “Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer” and the incredible “Captain of the lost waves“.
It’s a festival
Steampunk has become such a popular pastime for so many people that conventions, festivals and events have been created across the world to cater for the demand for steampunk entertainment.
Entertainment of this kind include live music, cabaret shows, fire breathers, comedians and everything in between.
One of the best examples of this is the truly massive steampunk festival based in Lincolnshire, England called The Asylum. Thousands of steampunks swarm the city for a long weekend and literally pack the streets with splendid costumes and incredible inventions.
The event is such a success and the people who attend are so well mannered that police have recorded lower crime levels in the area while the Lincoln steampunk festival is there, a feat not easy to accomplish and especially when thousands of extra people descend upon a city.
So what is steampunk?
Steampunk is the wonder in the human heart, the desire to dream and create. It is the belief that everyone should be splendid and treat each other with respect and kindness. It is for the people who grow tired of society’s social decline. Steampunk is for everyone and it is everything you want it to be.
“Steampunk is for everyone…”
I hope you’ll find steampunk a wonderful hobby or even a way of life just always remember to be splendid.