Steampunk Convention Debuts in Oklahoma City: A Report from the Oklahoma Steampunk Exposition
20 April 2011 by Ramon FaganHow does one describe the Oklahoma Steampunk Exposition? It was fast paced, confused, hectic, but a whole lot of fun! It was confusing as the guest list changed radically during the last two weeks due to unforeseen financial problems that caused most of the plane tickets for top name celebrities flying in to be canceled. In addition to that, while the online schedule was freely available, the actual printed program didn’t show until partway through the second day, and even then, it was difficult to find out for certain who had canceled and who was still appearing. The schedule was further moved around simply because we were all having too much fun to go to bed on time, so bleary eyed people were still just waking up around the time the first programming was scheduled. Kali’s Hourglass was ready to perform at 10 am on both Saturday and Sunday, but was asked to move it back 1 hour both days due to lack of audience awake enough on Saturday and the failure of the hotel to provide a projector on time on Sunday. In spite of this sort of thing, most people really enjoyed themselves, which in the end, is what this type of event is all about!
The Hellblinki Sextet performed Friday Evening to an enthusiastic crowd. As they often offer a fusion of jazz, rock, and experimental music, crowd reaction was varied in some areas, but overall extremely positive. Honestly, if you don’t get a few people with a “deer in the headlights look” saying something like “I’m still trying to figure out how much I liked it, because it was so unusual, but it was certainly very interesting”, then you have no business really calling it “experimental music”. They did not disappoint! As such, they made an excellent addition to this year’s lineup!
Performances included an excellent set by “Unwoman” who provided hauntingly beautiful melodies and songs both at 3pm (when Psych Corporation was supposed to have performed) and again at 4 pm on Saturday. Her show was very well attended and appreciated, that is until the costume contest began at 4 pm, drawing away most of the attendees. The contest was very popular and had some excellent ensembles as you can see from some of the Flikr site photos, but the scheduling opposite a major concert was unfortunate timing.
Panels by Airship Isabella included an excellent demonstration and explanation of various modified or “from scratch” Steampunk weapons and gadgets with a guest speaker Steve Liptak (from Airship Nocturne) joining them at their request. They not only demonstrated their greatest creations, but also gave away secrets about how these marvels were created on a budget! They also gave a panel explaining their form of Steampunk performance art, their projects, and their involvement in the community. Naturally their high quality offerings in their vending and display booth were very popular as well.
Panels from Kali’s Hourglass included “Steampunk Fashion Alchemy”, “Multicultural Steampunk Ensembles”, and “Nickel Children”. The first panel taught a variety of ways to increase or decrease the size of garments while making them much more “Steampunk” in the process as well as how to make interesting and useful weapons and accessories on a very limited budget from almost any sort of junk or left overs. The second actually taught about the vast array of “Steampunk” ensemble options and sub-genres that are now popular, yet are quite different from the original Victorian Eurocentric designs people often think of as “Steampunk”. It also gave a brief explanation of various controversies and ways to overcome them regarding the use of styles inspired by cultures from around the world. This focused mostly on pointing out that culture is everything and that culture is primarily learned rather than born into a person. They also encouraged members of the community to really study cultures to learn how to best honor them, rather than simply borrow from them in ways that might be seen by some as disrespectful if done in a careless manner. The third panel presented the award winning Steampunk Western short film “Nickel Children” and answered questions about it’s creation, purpose, and impact on the Steampunk community and the world today.
The event stirred a lot of controversy when so many guests had to cancel due to lack of money for their airfare less than 2 weeks before the show, and there were many other problems with questionable stage conditions, no seating in the concert area, no A/V support, general layout, poor communications before the event, missing programs, missing badges, and very limited security in general. The Program Director (who was also Co-Chair) specifically stated that they plan to use a different venue for next year and to adjust as needed to avoid similar problems next year. In spite of everything, the volunteer staff and the performers banded together to put on a great show, and make it a really fun event for all those that attended. That may well make up for this year’s limitations enough to bring a much larger crowd back next year.
Cut, Thrust, And, Run
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