If you read this column regularly, (and I hope you do), you might get the impression that I’m a “party animal”. I attend a lot of fun conferences, and there always seems to be a dress-up event, or two. Or in the case of the Romantic Times Convention, nine or ten.
I confess, I’ve never outgrown playing dress-up. I love everything about costuming, including drawing out designs, sewing, altering and the most fun: finding accessories. In fact, one of my favorite phrases is, “I learned everything I’d ever need to know about accessorizing from Barbie ©.” Since most of my costumes are historical or fantasy based, shopping for jewelry, fans, hats, and even shoes is an obsession.
And of course, if you have costumes, you MUST find places to wear them. Thus my many parties, events and yes, even a Ball or two. A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended the annual, “Steampunk Exhibition Ball” in Seattle. It was actually the first steampunk event he’s ever attended. Wardrobe was a big concern, but I advised him to just relax, wear something comfortable and enjoy the other costumed participants.
Even I didn’t realize that nearly everyone attending would be wearing a costume. Steampunk folks take their created characters very seriously. We wandered through the Museum of History and Industry, a perfect place for the event. We enjoyed a few sips of the “Green Fairy” – absinthe, wandered into the theater for a bit of burlesque and finally ended up on the recreated Northwest street scene.
That’s when I met some characters who stymied even me. They had grotesque painted faces. My husband had been asking all night for me to identify the various steampunk archetypes. But I couldn’t figure these guys out.
So I asked one of them. “What the heck are you supposed to be?”
They were members of The Blackmoor Traveling Picture Show, a steampunk zombie ensemble from London. Now, if you’ve read much steampunk – you know that for some reason, zombies are a popular trope. I just hadn’t met many of them at the events I attended. Later on, we enjoyed one of their performances in the theater.
As I drove home, my husband began considering the various character types he might like try on, and later he started shopping on line for costume pieces. I just had to remind him though; it’s really about the accessories!