By Stan Stewart.
Steampunk Parade happened in Thames on Saturday, November. I missed it by a few minutes, but I got the idea of the Steampunk festival, an annual event in Thames - marvelous! The preparations and aftermath are wonderful. More of that below but first all what is it and how does it happen?
From The Website: ‘Steampunk - The Thames Inc’ is a voluntary organization run by a dedicated committee of seven who want to bring art, festivities, tourism and economic development to Thames, as well as bringing our community together to celebrate our town. We have come together because we believe that the arts matter; that their practice can transform our lives and promote our community as a wonderful place to live, work, play and visit.
One of that committee lives in Bluff and was there as large as life after a year of zoom meetings.
From the Internet: Steampunk may be defined as, “where history and fantasy collide with technology.” 1. More specifically, Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. Most Steampunk culture bases its aesthetic and narrative on machinery from the 19th Century.
Steampunk fashion is a mixture of fashion trends from different historical periods. Steampunk clothing adds the looks of characters from the 19th century - explorers, soldiers, lords, countesses and harlots, to the punk, contemporary street fashion, burlesque, goth, fetishism, vampire and frills among others.
Why do Steampunks wear goggles? Goggles serve many purposes in the world of steampunk, such as keeping the wind on an airship from drying out your eyes, protection from dangerous chemicals for the mad scientist, and protection from sparks, and hot steam in the lab or boiler room.
Steampunk inspiration comes from the Victorian Age, from 1837 to 1901. The movement “reaches directly into the pocket of Victorian England and predicts what the world would be like today had its inhabitants and inventors prevailed over modern technology.”
My experience of Steampunk in Thames 11, November 2023.
Walking along Pollen Street, a few minutes after the Parade had ended, I encountered Steampunk. People young and old, large and small dressed in bazar voluminous, and tight clothing (Victorian era mostly) wearing helmets and goggles. I had to pinch myself. This is not Hollywood or San Francisco – it is main street Thames on a Saturday morning. They were sitting in coffee shops, shopping in Farmers and drinking beer at tables on footpaths outside pubs.
Further on, all the assorted parade vehicles from a fantasy time were parked and dancers, bubble blowers, stalls and musicians entertained the crowd gathered along the street and the grass verge outside St James Church. Two hours after the parade, they were still wandering around town, couples and whole families in bazar, almost unimaginable Steampunk gear. Their costumes varied, bazaar but they all had something in common. When you looked at them, they smiled. They were enjoying strolling round town in their dress ups.
For me the highlight was seeing some Steampunk people at 2.00pm in the afternoon in PAK’nSAVE pushing shopping carts. How bizarre is that! Imagine a shopper determinedly looking for the best price and they round the corner to confront a Steampunk older lady in full regalia – top hat, goggles helmet and sword or colourful parasol.
That must have been a mind-expanding shopping experience for the shopper. What about for the Steam Punk lady. What fun!
I immediately loved Steampunk. It was a dress up occasion in the middle of the day in which all ages could join in.
Here’s a couple of other things that occurred to me.
Individuals, couples, families must have spent some time planning their outfits. No auditions. No age limit – a few needed a walking stick, others just shuffled along. The young adults strutted. This must have been an exercise in imagination for some days before - searching through old stuff, trips to Op shops, antique stores, $2 shops, and costume providers. Designing these costumes must have been a hoot, long before the parade day arrived.
Unlike in theatre, with Steampunk you don’t have to take off your costume when the parade is over. You can wear it all day. No lines to learn, no bright lights to dazzle you, no final curtain. You can strut your stuff all day. What a thrill. I took particular notice of the Steampunkers I encountered. The one thing most of them were wearing - a smile. As though they were saying – “Look at me I’m having having fun.
Steampunk brought enjoyment and excitement to many people – those who dressed up and people like me who just watched and admired. Life for many is hum-drum. Some of us news hounds are worried sick by what the future holds. But Steampunk helped us all to unwind, have fun and enter into a magical, mythical world where people are cheerful, and all things are possible.
My thanks to all who organised, promoted and made possible the Steampunk Festival in Thames. Long may it go on.
Caption: Steampunk Dancers.