Tempe, AZ – It was a great success at the Arizona Steampunk Society’s first ever Steampunk Masquerade Ball on Saturday, November 3, 2012. Over 80 people arrived at the Sheraton Phoenix Airport Hotel to kick off the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention II launch party.  The convention will be held March 8-11, 2013 and after the Ball, and I am SO EXCITED to see what they have in store for us!

The Bad Cactus Brass Band came dressed to impress, and their sound did not disappoint.  They had great grasp of dynamics in the small space and from their opening note (2001: A Space Odyssey) I knew I was in for a treat.  Primarily a jazzy New Orleans/Mardi Gras inspired band, you would never have known that this was their first Steampunk performance.  The crowd erupted into applause at geek favorites such as the themes from Star Trek and Mario, but even the more traditional tunes kept toes tapping throughout the night.  The Bad Cactus Brass Band was a great find and I will definitely seek out opportunities to see them perform again, especially for their kick brass tuba player! In contrast, many attendees were shocked by the unexpected nudity during dance performances from the Osiris Dance Company, Pixie Styx, and Kara La Fleur of BurlEscapades. It does appear that this was due to a miscommunication between the event organizers and the dancers, as the Arizona Steampunk Society is a family oriented organization.

According to co-founder Diana Given, the first goal of the Arizona Steampunk Society is “to foster a positive, creative, environment.”  Indeed, the highlight of the evening was the inclusive, welcoming nature of the Society members. It’s not hard to strike up a conversation when you’re dying to figure out how Connie Galeener constructed those fantastic panniers (Home Depot buckets!) or how Melanie Davis transformed a Goodwill top by turning the sleeves into tails. I have lists of recommendations for corsetieres, hatmakers, and other costumiers that serve the rest of us less sewing skilled Steampunks, as well as places to seek out cool accessories such as prescription goggles.  Advice flew freely such as this gem by Professor Von Noctis: “One thing to remember about Steampunk is that upholstery fabric is your friend.”

Beyond costume advice, the Arizona Steampunk Society is a diverse group and all are excellent conversationalists. A discussion that started with Justin Hackert’s fantastic tailed vest (repurposed from a women’s suit jacket) turned to his work with the Arizona Initiative, a not for profit group emphasizing face to face interaction over monetary donations.  Conversations ranged from zombie apocalypse survival to the importance of literacy (Arizona Steampunk Society supports the Kids Need to Read charity). I talked to teachers, artists, puppeteers, real estate agents—in short, people from all walks of life.  The community environment that Arizona Steampunk Society is so excellent at fostering is the primary reason that I will be attending the second Wild Wild West Convention. I loved the intimate, imaginative convention from 2010. I can’t wait for March 8th to arrive to see how they blow us away this time!

For more information, look for the Arizona Steampunk Society on Facebook or check out the convention website: http://www.wildwildwestcon.com/d/

 

Check out pictures of the event below:

Photos by: © Eric Fiallos www.baldpirate.com

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