If you are like many in the geek community at large, you’ve lately been afflicted by some new and uncomfortable desires. Possibly they’ve manifested as unnatural urges to wear bustles and top hats. Maybe it’s seemed a shame that travel by dirigible is not a viable alternative to the current stuffy and inefficient state of the commercial flight industry. Most shockingly, perhaps you’ve even found yourself cooing over random cephalopods.
At first you tried to reason with yourself. It’s a fleeting sensation; it will fade, you said. But then a parasol or pair of goggles caught your eye and you were forced to admit the truth to yourself: you are steamcurious.
There’s many reasons the steampunk (a retro-futuristic depiction of Victorian times where steam tech advanced) aesthetic has exploded in recent years. Some people are drawn to the opportunity to do some historical roleplaying, while others believe that steampunk will soon (if it hasn’t already) emerge as a fully-fledged subculture with its own ideologies and social norms. Many are simply in it for the fancy gear.
Regardless of the reason, the steampunk community around central Texas has grown by leaps and bounds, to the point where it is now incredibly easy to either dabble or completely immerse oneself in the aesthetic. What follows are some resources to help you explore your inner steamy-ness.
First, you’ll want to look the part. Thankfully, in addition to certain well-known online resources (notably Clockwork Couture, which recently completed a photo shoot with geek darling Felicia Day), there is a local shop called The Mysterium co-located with Things Celtic. The store proprietor, Sam Tyler, will be more than happy to find you a reasonably priced underbust corset or (depending on your gender) a dashing pair of drop-front trousers to outfit you in style. For handmade local jewely and other accessories, check out Turner’s Tokens and The Brass Apple.
After this, it’s imperative you show off your new duds, which you can do in several ways. In addition to her duties running the Mysterium, Sam Tyler organizes Beer, Brass, and B.S. meetings at the south Opal Divine’s that meet the 3rd Tuesday of every month.
These gatherings bring together established steampunks and the steamcurious to drink, eat, and socialize in a welcoming atmosphere. Every other Wednesday at the Epoch coffee house are steampunk coffee meet ups. The club Elysium occasionally throws steampunk balls. Of course, steampunk attire is not required at any of these gatherings, but it does tend to make it more fun.
A large part of what makes steampunk so appealing is not just the look of it, but the imagined worlds that go along with it. Geeks who are longing to combine their love of roleplaying with an opportunity to craft automatons should check out Tephra, a roleplaying game produced by local company Cracked Monocle. There are playtesting sessions of Tephra every Monday at Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy on Burnet.
For those interested in venturing out a little farther, the San Antonio NeoVictorian Association (SANVA) is taking an active role in driving forward steampunk in Texas. Every month they host free movie nights at the San Antonio Alamo Drafthouse Park North, showcasing films that have either overt or subtle steampunk influences. SANVA chairmen Cameron Cody Hare and Pablo Vasquez (aka performance duo Mr. Saturday and Sixpence) also organize the incredible steampunk con Aetherfest (held over a weekend in May), which features steampunk themed musical acts, panels, gaming, and media.
My personal experience with the local steampunk community has been nothing but positive, and to those of you who can’t seem to get gears off your mind, perhaps it’s time to give in…