Steamposium 2016: Nerf Wars and Tea Parties

The third weekend of September 2016 marked the 3rd annual Steamposium, Seattle’s exclusive steampunk convention. I always greatly enjoy coming to Steamposium. It’s a wonderful weekend of leaving the mundane of everyday life behind for a whirlwind of brass, lace, ruffles, and gears. Everywhere you look everyone is dressed to the nines in their own unique interpretation of the steampunk aesthetic.

This year’s featured guests included celebrities Tony Curran (Doctor Who, Defiance, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Hélène Joy (Murdoch Mysteries, Durham County, M.V.P.), and Isaac C Singleton Jr (Pirates of the Caribbean, Anger Management, Planet of the Apes). Additionally, there were musicians Aurelio Voltaire, The Peculiar Pretzelmen, and Ingimar Oddsson, beloved steampunk artist and Disney story artist Brian Kesinger, Steampunk’d alum Ave Rose, and professional creature cosplayer Ryan Wells.

With such an awesome guest line up I was obviously very excited to attend. Honestly, Steamposium has yet to disappoint me; they’ve always got excellent guests, interesting panels, and a great accumulation of unique vendors.

I was also especially interested to see if a venue change would bring about any changes to the con. Due to construction, Steamposium had to move from their usual location at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the Seattle waterfront, to the Washington State Convention Center in Downtown Seattle.

  

On Friday I arrived with my friend and assistant for the weekend, Jay of Raging Storm Cosplay, at about 11am and hung out in a lounge area on the first floor until registration opened at noon. Upon arrival at registration we were told the press passes hadn’t arrived yet. So, instead of making us wait we were given regular passes and told to check in later to exchange for the correct passes, which we were able to do about an hour later. They also didn’t have any lanyards available for attendees, but luckily I always have extras in my bag from previous conventions. I later saw attendees walking around with their badges on ribbon, which isn’t a bad solution for missing lanyards, really.

After getting our passes we noticed that the vendor’s hall wasn’t scheduled to open until 1pm. Realizing we still had an hour to kill, we decided to get lunch at Taco Del Mar across the street in the main building of the convention center. A little after 1pm we went back to the con and slowly made our way around the small dealer’s hall. I had fun, there are always such talented steampunk artists there. Some of the stuff they create I couldn’t even dream up! Like flamingos made out of brass and gears, beautiful necklaces that are meticulously crafted with moving parts, and wonderfully ornate headgear including goggles, headdresses, and hats.  I even talked with a few people about possibly collaborating for future photo shoots, which was really exciting.

At 3pm Jay and I made our way to a panel that was all about non-Victorian steampunk. Originally, I thought the panel was going to be about the steampunk aesthetic all around the world, instead of just Victorian England. It touched on that a little bit, but it was actually more about the history of steampunk and how it actually expands to well before the Victorian era, in the Regency era. It was interesting and very informative. Although, my misunderstanding of the title of the panel gives me an idea to research putting together a panel about steampunk fashion around the world.

After the panel Jay went to go grab his phone charger and to find some food. While Jay was doing that I went to check out the Nerf Wars, which is exactly what it sounds like. Two teams, red vs blue, battle it out with nerf guns to capture the opposing team’s flag. The Nerf Wars were originally scheduled in one of the largest panel rooms of the lower floor, but due to set up for a concert taking place in there, the game ended up be in the main hallway of the floor we were on. There were some logistics issues and anyone leaving panels on that floor found themselves hit by a few rogue foam bullets, but all in all in went well. It was pretty fun to watch everyone play, and I snagged a few photos. I even managed to avoid getting hit very many times. Everyone was very enthusiastic, even one of the guests, Isaac C. Singleton Jr., was playing!

Jay and I had agreed to meet up in a lounge area on the second floor, so I left the Nerf Wars after one round to catch up with Jay. We ended up hanging out in the lounge area charging our phones for about 30 minutes before going to the tea tasting panel at 6pm.

The tea tasting panel hosted by Friday Afternoon was my favorite part of the whole day. She brought her Hogwarts house blends for everyone to try, and they were all quite good. I definitely felt that each blend fit their house perfectly. Both my and Jay’s favorite was the Hufflepuff blend, and not just because we’re Hufflepuffs!

Once the tea tasting was done we still had an hour to kill before the dance would start at 8pm. We ended up doing a quick walk through the artists’ alley just before it closed before sitting down at a bench near the main stage to wait for the dance to begin.

Sadly, the dance ended up being pretty dead. There were maybe 10 people in the room at any given time and almost none of them were dancing. I eventually realized that the dance was happening at the same time as the Voltaire concert, which definitely explained the small attendance. After about thirty minutes of chatting up a few of the attendees and staff we opted to head out early and get a good night’s rest for the next day.

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On Saturday Jay and I carpooled with our buddy David (Gingerten Cosplay) and arrived around 12:45 P.M. We decided to walk around a bit before the fashion show started at 2pm. We ended up running into Ryan Wells and hung out for a while before parting ways as his panel was at the same time as the fashion show.

Once at the fashion show there was some confusion as to whether or not I could go in early due to being press but we worked it all out and I got a good spot for taking photos. The fashion show was very lovely, and it went rather quickly this year! It’s usually quite long, paired with high tea and multiple musical guest intermissions, and the whole thing is typically scheduled to take two hours. This year it wasn’t as long due to a change of venue preventing Steamposium from bringing in outside food to the con. Despite starting 30 minutes late it was still done by 3:00pm, even with a performance by musical guest Ingimar Oddsson. I honestly preferred it this way; it kept the emphasis on the designers’ work on display, and due to it being quick, no one’s attention wandered. This also marked the first year that designs were showcased by a few of Steamposium’s vendors in addition to the featured indie designers. I found it to be a nice addition, and hopefully it helped to boost sales for those vendors.

It was actually quite fortuitous that the fashion show ended at 3, because I was able to run upstairs for the Steamhunks panel. The panel was about the Steamhunks 2017 calendar put together by Steampoisum. The calendar features local male steampunk models. A few of those models plus one of the calendar coordinators were there to answer questions and invite people to apply for next year’s calendar. David is actually in the calendar as well, and when we arrived at the panel together they pulled him on stage with the other panelists to answer questions. Even with the Q & A, the panel only ended up being about 20 minutes. So, we decided to go back to the vendor’s hall to hang out with friends before the celebrity panel started.

At 4pm the celebrity guest panel with Isaac, Tony, and Helen started and I had a very lovely time. When I came in the rest of the panelists were on the main stage area gathered around to watch Tony and Isaac have a push up battle for a #22pushups challenge Tony was participating in! I got some pictures of the whole thing. The rest of the panel was pretty great too, they all had plenty of funny stories to share about times on set. They also talked about what got them into acting and other standard questions for guests, such as their hardest gig, their favorite job, and which shows/movies they’d love to be in.

Following the celeb panel was the costume contest, also in the main panel room. So, I stuck around for that and got to enjoy all the lovely costumes. Steampunks are some of the most talented seamstresses, I swear! Such exquisite details go into those gowns and suits. My only wish is that the contestants had been told to stop at the front of the stage and pause for photos, I had a really hard time good photos of the contestants because they all walked off so quickly.

After the contest I decided to go to Friday Afternoon’s booth to try today’s assortment of teas. I ended up spending quite a bit of time there talking with Friday about potential collaborations for photo shoots and having a tea party of sorts at her booth complete with snacks. She wants to do photo shoots and she fed me, I’m pretty sure we’re best friends now.

Eventually my friends Jay, David, and Sarah met up with me at the tea booth and we headed to the second floor to take some photos. I had brought these awesome spiked booties for Sarah to wear and we did a quick fashion shoot. Then I snagged a few photos of David in his steampunk cowboy outfit before we all headed to the masquerade ball.

Sadly, the masquerade ball was only marginally more alive than the previous night’s dance. Which is really bizarre, because usually the masquerade is a pretty prominent feature. One possible explanation could be because the DJ had been late, and when they did arrive they kept playing songs that seemed out of place for a masquerade ball.  As a result, people left pretty early. By the time we got there only a few people were dancing. I did stay for a bit to dance and get photos of the lovely people that were there though! After about thirty minutes we decided that the ball probably wasn’t going to pick up much more than that we all headed out.

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On Sunday, Jay wasn’t available to attend the con, so I arrived with my friend Erin at around noon. Our first stop was the vendor’s hall. We both needed a caffeine fix and I wanted to introduce her to Friday of Friday Afternoon Tea, so it was a win-win, really! We spent some time chatting with her while trying different blends before heading off to the autograph room so Erin could get Tony Curran’s autograph.

When we arrived to the autograph room Tony Curran and Hélène Joy were chatting it up at their tables. The chatting actually didn’t stop when we got there. We proceeded to spend at least 30 minutes hanging out while Tony talked about world politics and re-introduced himself to us at least 4 times. That man is so delightful, and so very Scottish! Every time he’d pause with the intention of signing a portrait for Erin he’d suddenly get drawn back into conversation again, it was too funny. It wasn’t until other people came into the room and a line started to form that we got him to sign a photo from his role in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Then he spent another 10 or so minutes talking about the blue suit he wore in that so that he could be turned into the invisible man in the movie. All in all, it was a wonderful time and the other attendees didn’t seem to mind the wait either. It’s a rare occurrence that you get to just hang out with the celebrity guests like that, but luckily with the size of Steamposium, you really get to spend the weekend doing just that, hanging out.

Once we finished in the celeb room it was nearly time for a panel we wanted to attend at 2pm, which was called Inside the Apothecary. I really enjoyed this panel, it was all about the history of apothecaries and how they eventually led the way to pharmacies. It was really interesting to learn just how many different types of products were made at apothecaries, and just how long they were allowed to create medicines and other items for consumption or skin care that were lethal to people. It amazes me that it took so long for proper regulations to be put in place. Also, I can’t believe we used lead and mercury for so long! Not to mention that cocaine and opium were in practically everything back then. It’s also interesting to note that above all, apothecaries were about business first and foremost. They were the first marketers, and helping people was really just a side effect. Making money mattered more.

After the panel it was time for celebrity photo ops so we headed back to the celeb room to get a photo with Tony Curran. This trip went much more quickly than the one to get an autograph but we still had a nice chat with him and with Isaac Singleton Jr. Our photo also turned out really lovely. I was very impressed with the soft, golden lighting that was used. All the photos were taken with care to make sure we looked our best, which is another benefit to meeting with a guest at a smaller con. There’s that extra time available to spend getting photos to be their best, unlike large cons where it can feel rather like an assembly line.

Once we finished our photo op we went downstairs to check out the Nerf Wars. I had a lot of fun watching them play on Friday and wanted to get some photos of them of Sunday’s teams as well. This time around was even more elaborate because they pulled some chairs from the panel rooms and used trash cans to create obstacles and barricades from the other teams. It was a lot of fun to watch and since I was shooting from the doorway of one of the panel rooms this time I managed to avoid most of the stray bullets.

We watched two rounds of Nerf Wars before heading back upstairs to spend the remainder of the convention chatting with friends in the vendor’s hall. Erin also got some tea from Friday before the con came to a close for the year.

Just like previous years I had an absolutely fabulous time at Steamposium 2016. I could definitely feel there were more hiccups than usual, but I chalk that up to the con getting used to a different venue more than anything else. The staff did an excellent job staying pleasant while tackling any hurdles that came. Steamposium is always going to be a con I greatly look forward to, they know how to provide a fantastic weekend away full of beautiful, elegant fashion and adventure. I can’t wait till the next one so I can experience all that extravagance and wonder once more!

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