Springingtiger's Blog


I Won’t Sing The Asylum Blues.

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I am a little disappointed that my plan to attend the Asylum in Lincoln again this year will not come to fruition. However the simple fact is that I cannot afford it. I am not blaming the ticket prices which are not at all unreasonable, at £36 for a weekend wristband that covers and enables participation in events for four days (and probably Thursday evening) that’s less than a tenner a day for a lot of fun and access to the most amazing Steampunk markets. Of course tickets to Evening Events add to the cost, but with a city full of Steampunks there’s plenty of fun to be had without paying for evening entertainment. I should point out that while tickets for the Steam Powered Giraffe concert are £25 (worth every penny and cheap for the BEST BAND in the Universe) most of the other evening events only cost £12.00 and that’s positively cheap these days! Sadly one also needs to factor in the costs of accommodation, transport, and food and my budget won’t stretch that far.

Of course not going to Asylum provides no block to my Steampunkery. I have written several times in my blog and in the Glasgow Ubiquitous E. Steampunk Society Newsletter about how Steampunk accommodates itself to a limited budget. Although the Asylum is out this year, and I’m sure there are others in a similar position, there are still plenty of local opportunities for unexpurgated Steampunkery. Most countries now host a number of Comic Cons and our Glasgow group takes advantage of them. As well as the Cons there are plenty of other events to which our group is actively invited so there are plenty of occasions to enjoy. It’s true that these events are not the same as being surrounded by thousands of fellow Steampunks for a weekend, but they do allow what one might call ‘missionary work’. After each event we attend we receive requests to join GUESS. Although we may only have a handful of members at an event our online group is growing and it’s not always the same members who attend each event.

Perhaps the hardest part of not going to Asylum is reading the posts of all those excited people on ‘Welcome To The Asylum‘ who are preparing to attend. However, on the plus side, this does at least hold out the promise of some wonderful photograph albums to peruse in September. There are so many events I can’t attend like Wild West Con and the Steampunk World’s Fair, but whose photos provide pleasure and inspiration; this year the Asylum will be another of them.

One of the pleasures of the Asylum is watching civilians walking through the markets and gradually becoming Steampunked. That’s the first step for some, hopefully it leads on to crafting one’s own Steampunk creations. Events like the Asylum are a huge boost for one’s Steampunk soul, but life has to go on and so does one’s Steampunkery. Perhaps the true power of Steampunk is not that it can bring thousands of Steampunks together on the Castle Green during Asylum, but that it can provide them with pleasure and purpose throughout the other three hundred and sixty days of the year.

I won’t be at Asylum this year, but I won’t suffer the Asylum Blues, my life steams on regardless. However to those who are going may I wish you all a wonderful time and good weather. If it rains there’s usually cover somewhere, last year as a shower came in I found myself in a tent full of corsets feeling like a character from Father Ted. I hope you have fun and make new discoveries. Take time to appreciate the organisers (The Victorian Steampunk Society) and volunteers too, they do a terrific job. Oh, and please post lots of photos to the Welcome To The Asylum Page, we’d all love to see what you get up to.



The Steamimg Web

GUESS

When I started this piece I had thought to produce some sort of guide to internet sites for Steampunks. I have to admit to a gross naivete. I dare say someone might collate such a guide, but it’s not going to be me! I had to start again from scratch and I have despaired of ever completing it.

There is a question often asked and answered with as many variant replies as there are questioners seeking an answer. I will not presume to provide a definition, but I am interested in what Steampunk is in societal terms. Is it a movement?

I am a member of quite a few Steampunk groups on Facebook, but they have no formal relationship with each other so we are certainly not a movement like the Socialist International, nor an organisation like FIFA, but we are connected and we are international. So what is Steampunk?wp-image-135174496jpg.jpeg

Within Steampunk there are many organised (or more usually semi organised) groups. Many of them are, one might say, evangelical in intent; for example it is one of the goals of the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society ‘To promote the appreciation of the Steampunk cultural movement.’ Some groups exist primarily to organise events like the Victorian Steampunk Society who bring us The Asylum in Lincoln, and there are pages for Steampunk events all round the world. There is an incredible amount of overlap as I have discovered when clicking on various people tagged in pictures, many of whom I discover follow the same groups as I. I suspect that just as the internet has no central control yet connects people all over the world, Steampunk is a cultural web of like minded people. I was going to say eccentrics, however there are so many of us I am not sure eccentric is the correct term.

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Me with SPG (my life is complete!)

The GUESS Aims describe Steampunk as a cultural movement, but is it? I know there are people writing ‘Steampunk literature’, and comics. There are many Steampunk musical performers like Steam Powered Giraffe, The Cog is Dead, Abney Park, Before Victoria, Steampunk Stompers, Alice’s Night Circus; the list is too long for me to include it all, but when you listen you find that within Steampunk the music includes every genre from Jazz to punk rock and folk to cabaret. Perhaps there is no Steampunk music as such, but rather Steampunk is a sensibility that informs the music and also the literature, the poetry, painting that appears under the umbrella Steampunk.

To appreciate Steampunk we have to approach it with the mind of Sherlock Holmes and discover for ourselves the connections between its many parts. For example one might begin with one Facebook group like ‘Welcome To The Asylum‘ click on any name that is tagged into a photo and then check out the groups they follow. Of course if that feels too intrusive one could just search Facebook or any social network under the tag Steampunk to be presented with a plethora of groups to investigate. Were I to list all the wonderful groups I have discovered like White Rose Yorkshire Steampunks I’d be here forever there are so many, so have fun!

As for the question ‘What is Steampunk?’ I am more convinced than ever that it is dscf2243something I shall never be able to answer to everyone’s satisfaction, I shall be pleased if someday I can answer it to mine own.