Steampunk is an interesting subgenre of what is usually considered to be science fiction. This retro futuristic ideal is actually celebrated; with people attending various gatherings or steampunk festivals every year throughout the world – many of which take place in the United States. Nowadays there is at least one festival, and sometimes more, almost every single month somewhere in America.
One of the oldest of these is the Watch City Steampunk festival in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts. It is both an indoor and outdoor celebration and attracts thousands of participants. Steampunk is popular not only in the United States, as some may believe, some of these festivals and conventions are also seen in Europe. In fact, Weekend at the Asylum is an annual steampunk festival that is held in Lincoln, England. It is known to attract plenty of people and includes workshops, various types of entertainment and classes and is one of the oldest festivals in this genre. People will often dress in costumes to reflect the subgenre, and they feature elements of technology. Unusual goggles and hats are worn, and Victorian style pocket watches are truly popular and are common accoutrements to the overall look that people are trying to achieve.
Burning Man is a uniquely American event that takes place annually in the desert in the state of Nevada. The first festival was actually in California on Baker Beach in 1986. It has become the event to attend among fans of the subgenre and even those who aren’t steampunk aficionados. This annual event is much anticipated in America, as it encourages self-expression and exploration, and each year a different theme is selected by those who are involved in organizing the event. However, it is not the cheapest of events to attend as the tickets alone are in the range of over $400 now.
The Burning Man festival started with a meager 35 individuals in San Francisco and today it has exploded in popularity and gets about 70,000 people in attendance.
Over time stricter rules have had to be put into place because of the increased number of people who attend. And where did it get its name?
An effigy, a “burning man”, is set alight at the end of the festival.
The entire event is based around ten core principles. These principles include such things as participation, civic responsibility, self-expression and community cooperation. It is interesting to note that no commercial activity is permitted at this festival. In fact, people can only receive goods by bartering or by a process of gifting. This is all part of their community cooperation ethos.
It is normally very well organized and has attracted some very influential and wealthy people such as the founder of Amazon, the co-founders of Google and many superstars. Furthermore, the idea of having such a burning man festival has spread around the world and inspired countries as far away as New Zealand and South Africa, to hold their own. Both the steampunk and burning man festivals encourage self-expression and creativity, which make them extremely popular and fun for all sorts.