Countessa and Company attend UK's Weekend at The Asylum Created by countessalenora on 9/24/2012 9:41:52 PM
Steampunk Canada's Lee Ann Farruga travels to England with her family to experience the 2012 Weekend at The Asylum.
My family decided to attend The Asylum steampunk event in the UK at the end of the last one in 2011. We have attended events in the US and Canada and while it seemed the logical next step, it was, of course, a very big step. We saved our pennies for over a year to make sure we had enough saved for four people (myself, husband and two girls) to travel, live, eat, and attend The Asylum. We did not take this event lightly and so we had high hopes and great expectations.
We arrived early (the Tuesday before) in Lincoln to have time to cope with jet lag. On the Wednesday before the event actually began we were treated to the amazing hospitality of the Lincoln Steampunks. Not one, but four lovely local steampunk gentlemen came to our hotel and escorted myself and my two girls to the pub (the husband had gone earlier to meet a friend). There we met many more of the local group and every one of them was open and friendly. We had a great introduction to the upcoming weekend.
On Thursday, the first events began in the evening. We attended a multi-media presentation called The Misdeeds of Springheeled Jack. It was a wild ride of live acting, narration and comicbook graphic novel big screen visuals. It was quite fun. Afterward, we all walked to the same pub we attended the previous night, Widow Cullen's Well, where the upstairs was packed from end to end with well-dressed steampunks for the Advance Guard Gathering. We were able to meet a number of friends we had made online, and make a few new ones as well. It was a great opportunity to chat and get to know other attendees.
By Friday afternoon Lincoln was taken over by a large number of steampunks attending The Asylum. One thing we noticed is that UK steampunks dress in clothing and outfits, not costumes. Their attire is beautifully made or modified and even the most outrageous pieces were well put together! Most of my afternoon and evening was spent getting a close up view of some such outfits in the back of The Assembly Rooms helping to prepare everyone for the evening Fashion Show. I was one of the dressers and my two girls were models for a number of Lady Elsie's creations. All the models, dressers and designers worked hard and fast, and it was well worth it. The fashion show was sold out and absolutely brilliant.
Saturday was the big day for shopping and meeting the fabulous traders and authors. The authors room was packed with amazing people like Robert Rankin (Witches of Chiswick), Miss Emily Ladybird (Steampunk Emporium) and Tom and Nimue Brown (Hopeless, Maine). The traders were just as wonderful, with a huge variety of goods for sale. As I already have half a closet of steampunk attire and a quite a few accessories, I ended up buying a large number of the incredibly fun badges by Dr. Geof. His cartoons and creations are fantastic. I brought home quite a few for future giveaways. We were also introduced to his creation – The First Tea Company. We were so impressed and excited that, after discussing it with Dr. Geof (who himself got quite excited), we decided to extend The First Tea Company to the colonial lands of Canada. We'll soon be recruiting and holding our own tea dueling!
Saturday afternoon was the Guinness World record attempt. It was very involved and well ordered. It was quite the rigorous process to make sure the rules were followed. However, it paid off, as it is very likely we accomplished our goal. I hope we hear good news from Guinness soon.
Saturday night was the Grand Ball and of course we all had to attend – who goes to the UK and doesn't attend a ball – I mean, really.... It was an explosion of colour, taffeta, silk and huge skirts. I can't forget the gentlemen. They were outstanding - finely dressed and manners to match. There was music from the time people were arriving with the delightful Rachel Hayward playing her steel pan (drum), to late in the evening with Pocketwach and Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer. From as little as the tapping of a finger, to full out jumping up and down on the dance floor, not one person could stay still. A very good time was had by all.
Sunday did not slow down by any means. First thing in the morning I was very proud that the husband, Patrick, was invited to join the 3rd Foot and Mouth in their parade. Even Queen Victoria made a point of stopping to chat about the colonial gentlemen during her inspection of the troops. I do believe it was the highlight of the weekend for him. I haven't mentioned this yet, but one incredible aspect was the weather. It was warm (quite warm at times) and sunny the whole weekend. It was delightful to sit in the castle grounds with an ice cream watching all the steampunks picnicing and enjoying themselves on the lawns. It was like a dream come true.
Sunday night the festivities ended with the Dead Dog party. I have heard of a dead dog party, and it usually involves only those who have put on the event, but not in Lincoln! They sell tickets to theirs and have even more live acts and music, including Professor Elemental who had everyone up dancing and singing. There was even remote control robot wars. It was the most splendid ending to an incredible event.
The family all agree that saving our pennies for a full year was absolutely worth it for the incredible fun we had at The Asylum. It definitely met our high hopes and great expectations... and then some. I highly recommend you do the same and attend next year – so start saving NOW.
Known internationally as Countessa Lenora, Canadian Queen of Steampunk, Lee Ann Farruga is the founder of Steampunk Canada, a national organization bringing together local steampunk groups from across Canada and educating the general public about this genre/community. A bundle of organizational energy held in check only by her impressive collection of corsets, the Countessa promotes steampunk in a plethora of venues including the Steampunk Canada website, blogs, social media, local events and at conventions large and small. Driven by her love of steampunk she has brought the genre and local Canadian groups to the attention of publishers and major media companies and is campaigning to bring steampunk to the attention of all Canadians through art galleries, museums, libraries and schools nationwide. You can also find her at Twitter - CountessaLenora