The Birth of Steampunk Conventions In the Southwest
There were a few smaller one evening steampunk events in the past at local nightclubs, but the first large specifically steampunk event in the South Central US appears to have been The Green Steam Circus (May 15th 2010). It had musical performances by local Texas steampunk/dieselpunk band “White Ghost Shivers”, the world renowned steampunk band “Abney Park”, and assorted other bands played there. The “circus” part related to several acts such as balancing, juggling, blockhead, and self piercing acts, as well as burlesque, and an assortment of other forms of entertainment as well as vendors. It’s downfall was that it was poorly advertised. They wanted to be “green” by not printing any flyers or paper ads and relying on internet and word of mouth only which did not work well for a new event. It was also set in an outdoor venue on a weekend that had heavy rain predicted so attendance was poor in spite of an excellent event!
There have already been nine brand new all steampunk events start up in the last year, and will be three more new ones next year. Clockwork Wonderland, an all Steampunk one evening event presented by the popular Dielpunk/Steampunk Band Marquis of Vaudville started off an incredible explosion of all Steampunk events in 2011 (January 21). It was followed by Wild Wild West Con in Arizona (March 4-6, 2011). Next came Oklahoma Steampunk Expo, the first full 3 day Steampunk Convention in the South Central Area (OK city April 15th-17th 2011). Aetherfest in San Antonio in early May was the first 3 day steampunk event in Texas. After that came the Difference Engine Summer one day event on June 4th in Fort Worth. Smaller evening only events included Firewater (July 19th) in Dallas, the Autumnal Equinox Masquerade Ball (Oct 1st) in Dallas, and several other smaller events in Central and South Texas Cities in 2011.
2012 has brought in 3 new all Steampunk conventions and promises at least 2 more. It started out with the Difference Engine Convention and New Year’s Eve Ball on New Year’s Eve. It was followed 3 weeks later by another new 3 day, all steampunk convention called Clockwork Con. Even that was followed a week later by another Marquis of Vaudville event in Dallas called Gadgets and Gobstoppers which reportedly sold out a large live show venue with capacity of 800. Twisted Gears also just presented the first steampunk convention for Houston on February 25, 2012.
The Nightmare Machine, a paranormal themed steampunk event, will debut in Jefferson, Texas on March 30th, 2012. Jefferson, Texas really is on the list of most desirable locales for those serious about the study of ghosts and paranormal events making this a history making shift in convention fandom focus for this genre. The event is hosted by the Steampunk Illumination Society and will be located near the intersection of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas; bringing in steampunks from all four states.
Finally there is one new event scheduled in October in Oklahoma city under the overtly steamy, but hard to pronounce name of Octopodicon. After that the cycle will repeat it seems, at least with the events that survive this difficult economy and extremely full convention schedule for this part of the country.