Steampunk: the future in retrospect

This past Saturday a good friend invited me to a ball, yes a ball. Not just any shindig mind you, but a unique experience called a steam punk ball. A gathering of folks that can only be described as a cross between a historical reenactment and a science fiction convention.

Steampunk is essentially what would happen if the  ideas of Jules Verne’s and H.G.Well’s steam powered world dictated the course of our history. The airship and the locomotive would still be the main sources of transport, communication would be through wireless telegraph and society would resemble the best of Victorian England and/or the Old West. But enough history, lets talk about that night.

The little art gallery/cafe/curio store named Davenport and Winkleperry is situated in a little place called Pittsboro, NC. Think Norman Rockwell’s Main Street America and you’ve got the picture. Yet every other month or so the doors of this cafe (tastefully decorated in Dr. Who Tardis colors) swing open. My guide for the night, dressed for the part as Annie Oakley, introduced me to a cast of characters ranging from dapper Victorian gentlemen, rough mountain men types, corset and bustle clad ladies, itinerant scientists, brazen adventurers and the like. What they all seem to have a love for was a past that might have been. As a newcomer I was immediately paired off with a Parisian dancer, hitting the floor with gusto.

Dancing at this event was very open, for every couple swinging and waltzing there were at least a dozen more doing everything from salsa to gypsy stepping. And, In keeping with the theme, the D.J. played everything from The Decembrists, Gogol Bordello and Flogging Molly to classic pop songs sung in an 1800’s style.  The fun didn’t stop there. We had Tom Maxwell of the Squirrel Nut Zippers playing all his hits, UNC-TV doing interviews for one of their specials and even a marriage proposal. The future bride and groom received a standing ovation from the crowd.  One hell of way to end a Saturday, right?

Steampunk certainly has a large following, especially in North Carolina. If ever you want to step into a past that might have been, look no further than this little place.


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