If you’ve ever seen someone decked out in what looked a Victorian era blacksmith outift combined with a futuristic apocalyptic personality, you may have just run into a steampunk.
The movement, fueled by romantic notions of futuristic and fictional machines perpetuated by authors H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, combines a longing for the past with retro-futuristic technology.
It’s not just a small group of people who subscribe to the steampunk mentality, but rather a worldwide movement of people who celebrate all things steampunk at various gatherings and tradeshow style events.
And what better place to bring steampunk than the uber-historic, yet modern city of Atlanta?
AnachroCon, a spin off of the Dragon*Con event in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the first full shows in the city dedicated to steampunk.
"The first time I heard the term ‘steampunk’ was in the early ‘90s,” says Cindy MacLeod, vice-chair of AnachroCon and the director of Dragon*Con’s alternate history track.
"I didn’t hear the term again until I was at Dragon*Con a few years ago and saw some folks dressed in [steampunk] costumes. The next thing you know, I was hearing the word all over the place and, as a fan of costuming and science fiction, I decided it was something fun, interesting and creative and I wanted to be involved."
Besides Dragon*Con in Atlanta, the city is hosting two new spin off events, the Steampunk Theatre Entertainment Art & Music Festival (STEAMFest) and the Clockwork Carnival to feature music, productions, sideshow acts and will showcase steampunk vendors.
Events like these are popping up all over the nation with Seattle’s Steampunk Film Festival, New York City’s Steampunk Worlds Fair. Clearly, the movement is gaining more and more traction as people gravitate towards the lifestyle.
There are even certain bands and acts dedicated to steampunk like the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, such as the Vauxhall Garden Variety Players, and turn-of-the-centure-style wrestling act Platinum Champion Wrestling.
"Steampunk, at the heart of it, is taking the best parts of the past and making something new," says DJ Doctor Q.
"What I listen for is any musician that’s really having fun with old instrumentation in a new and innovative way."
Meanwhile, Thimblerig co-founder Adam Lowe, who performs as Molotov, explains that STEAMFest requested his group perform something more along the lines of the science-based circus traditionally reserved for middle and high schools.
"Because steampunk has that element of 'science,' we thought it would be a cool tie-in for us. [Of course], the Clockwork Carnival will be much more of a classic sideshow.
"There will be things like glass walking and more traditional carnival tricks, but we’ll be doing a much more comedy-based sideshow," he adds.
Clearly, steampunk's regard for the past, while simultaneously looking towards the future, seems like a perfect match for the old city of Atlanta, Georgia.