I am extremely fond of the Steampunk movement that is now sweeping the world over. I have always loved the esthetic quality of Victorian era garb, even if I am not fond of some of its more restrictive clothing and gender concepts. So when I found out that our local Steampunk group was putting on their annual Expo I knew I would be going. This year the venue had been large enough to take over the Livestock Event Center’s Exhibit hall, having over 40 vendors and numerous local performance groups.
Outside of the event were some amazing art cars on display. Most of the art cars that come our way travel through Reno around the end of August for the Burning man festival, however one of these vehicles makes its pilgrimage more often to Reno, The Nautilove (http://nautilove.com/). This re-creation of Captain Nemo’s massive mythical ship, from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is a marvel unto itself. With brass shells adorning its magnificent hull, tentacles for door handles and portals with working irises, this vehicular feat is a spectacular adornment to any Steampunk event. Also on display at the Expo was the monster hunting vehicle “Monstrosity”, a double decker vehicle adorned with all of the accoutrements necessary for a Miskatonik battle, including amazing speakers which kept onlookers entertained while checking out its amenities.
Inside of the 20,000 square foot exhibit hall the vendors and exhibitors were given enough space, relieving any problems with crowding. So it was truly easy to shop at each booth and see all of the wares offered. Centrally located was the exhibition stage. Set with a few rows of chairs one could see what was happening on the stage at any point in the room. With the help of the Aether Brigade to announce each performance we could even hear what was happening on the stage from anywhere in the exhibit hall.
The Aether Brigade is a fantastic Time Traveling Comedy troop, and were the “hosts” of the Expo. They put on a one hour show each day while also announcing and interacting with all of the other performances at the expo. Comprised of the crew of the Time ship Simultaneous, this band of intrepid adventurers are not only wonderfully funny and entertaining they are also the perfect group to give a Steampunk event the perfect flavor. The Aether Brigade is a group of storytelling, improv actors with fabulous talent and amazing props. http://aetherbrigade.com/ .
Other performances included a Tea Duel, hosted by High Desert Steam’s own Vivian M Dare, BBPE, DOTB. This fun concept arose as an alternate to stabbing pointy things at one another because of some perceived, or misperceived insult. Started by two gentlemen from England, Dr. Geof and Tinker, it is quite the fun and challenging game to play at any Steampunk event. For rules and regulations see the original website at http://teaduel.yolasite.com/.
Also on the stage we were able to see two fabulous dance presentations by Asha and the World Dancers, local Belly dance troupes. These women danced to both modern and traditional music and kept the audience enthralled with hip flash, excited grins and an immense amount of talent.
As I travelled amongst the various vendors I came upon a display of photos shot during the making of what could only be a Steampunk style movie. Upon watching the video presentation, and getting to talk to the attendants at the booth, I was delighted to see I was right. If any of our readers are like me you are probably a little irritated by the lack of new ideas being turned into movies. The “remake” has become the norm and I for one am a little disgusted. So when I heard that some amazingly talented movie makers, producers, cinematographers and artists were getting together to make a Steampunk Movie for Steampunk people with a brand new concept I was really excited. With Drew Hall (“Convergence”, “Nigel and Oscar Versus the Sasquatch”), Horst Sarubin (“The Hobbit Trilogy”, “Iron Man 3”, “Furious 7”) and numerous other talent laden names Aether appear to be a pretty spectacular movie. Though talent laden, the crew of Aether is still trying to get the larger studios to pick up and understand their vision and so they are looking for public support so that they can prove that people are really interested in the concept. Take a look on their website http://wwwweareskyborne.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AetherMovie, I know the idea has really got me excited.
Amongst the other booths were amazing wares, costume pieces, hats, lights, writing utensils and a beautiful art display containing examples from photography and moquettes to drawings and paintings. Everything was well appointed and drew me in. Then there were the smells. From cupcakes at Buttercream Bliss (www.buttercreambliss.blogspot.com) to the Teas, they perfumed the air with scented ambiance more gratifying then gear oil and mechanical machinations. Other vendors had amazing concepts wrapped in Victorian flare like High Desert Botanicals’ bitters kits which look to be a kind of kit for the mad scientist, and Gear Oils perfectly decorated pure oils with capped scents of the bygone Victorian era.
None of this would have been truly possible without the direction and production of our local steampunk organization High Desert Steam http://www.highdesertsteam.org/. This group has managed over the years to put on not only a yearly Steampunk expo but also, a Steampunk Ball in the beautiful Virginia City NV, a Steam Crawl through downtown Reno’s bars and pubs, and a variety of other events to bring Steampunk into the public. If you ever happen to be in the Reno area, or are coming to the next Burning man event, make sure to take a look at High Desert’s events list they are guaranteed to be fun for all.