Author Topic: Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand 2010  (Read 2176 times)

Ramon Leon del Mar

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Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand 2010
« on: December 14, 2010, 03:07:07 am »
Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand

Dickens on The Strand is “a holiday festival, where Bobbies, Beefeaters and the Queen (Victoria) …recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Characters from Dickens novels walk the street.” This festival is so strict (normally) about proper historical recreation that all entertainers are required to fill out a detailed form about what they will be presenting, and to present the entertainment committee with photos of costumes and recordings of performances to ensure that all clothing, melodies, and lyrics are from “pre-1900s sources.”  In spite of this, representatives of Airship Isabella convinced them to make an exception so large this year that the square around the “Crystal Palace Stage” had a huge banner across the entrance reading “Steampunk Square” with the sponsors listed jointly as the Galveston Historical Society and Airship Isabella.

   The only obvious change at first was the plethora of colorful characters that blended underlying historical ensembles with very anachronistic and often futuristic accoutrement.  Then it really got strange!  More and more very unusual looking airship pirates, sea pirates, privateers, adventurers, naturalists, time travelers, and even the “Mad Hatter” from another universe all together made their appearance on the streets and in the photographs of people from across the country. 
Airship Isabella was out in full regalia along with friends from as far away as Mississippi that came specifically for this event.  They and several other vendors ran a brisk trade in Steampunk jewelry, clothing, and other items.  They also set up a “Steamunk Museum” where their friends and visiting Steampunks were encouraged to display their most interesting and elaborate Steampunk weapons, inventions, or armor pieces for all the visitors to see. 

When time came for the evening parade, the historical society was uncertain where to place their strange assortment of guests in the parade, (at least this reporter was told that was the case as we had never been there in such large numbers before) so we were placed at the very end behind the Queen, her beefeater bodyguards, Highland guardsmen, Bagpipe bands, many other groups, and even the “Texas Army” which is a Confederate Army reenactment group.  The leader of that rather impressive group of Confederates asked one of the event staff members, loud enough to ensure we could hear, if our motley looking group were ruffians  that had been lined up for them to throw off the island.  In his usual shy and retiring way, Admiral Ramon Leon del Mar (Kali’s Hourglass) answered equally loudly that “No.  We’re the pirates that are here to take over the island!”  The Texas Army Captain looked a bit nervous at first, but the laughter and friendly, jovial attitude seemed to put him at ease.  Just the same, the Admiral’s words proved to be prophetic, for take over the island they most certainly did!

Much of the credit for this goes to Captain Cedric Whittaker (Airship Isabella), who made a sincere plea to friends and Steampunk associates across the country to attend and support this project to bring the Steampunk Subculture and movement to the mainstream people of Texas at this festival.  He convinced many to attend that had never before considered this festival or typically travelled to gatherings this far from home.  What really made the difference though is that, just before the parade, Cedric told all of us assembled that (I’m paraphrasing here as I didn’t have a recorder on hand)  he wanted to humbly thank us for traveling so far and coming to support this effort.  He then said (best I can recall) “This parade is for you!  It’s for every time someone called you a freak because of how you dressed or because of how you think.  Let’s get out there and let them see who we really are tonight!”

Needless to say, the crowd then cheered, and screamed themselves hoarse yelling in a celebratory and happy way at pretty much every intersection in downtown Galveston or any time we stopped.   The audience watching the parade responded wonderfully to this.  It seemed that the sedate parade ahead of us had always been dignified and sedate, but never terribly exciting, and here were a bunch of oddly dressed (and heavily armed-or so it appeared) that were so welcoming, friendly, and happy to be there, that our joy was contagious!  The crowd watching began cheering, yelling, and waving back.  We actually got a standing ovation at many intersections just for dressing so wild and sharing so much joy and enthusiasm with the crowd.  The papers the next day and on Monday gave extremely favorable reviews and specifically stated that this year’s fair had the highest turnout for many years.  It seems our performance of simple joy at being alive and sharing our happy madness with the crowd brought out people in droves the next day that otherwise might never have come.!/video/video.php?v=134813033243746#comments!/video/video.php?v=134813033243746#comments

By the end of Sunday, we found people from all walks of life, including the Texas Army, the Bobbies, and the Beefeaters, had become very friendly, wanted to take pictures with us, and thanked us all for coming.  There can be no doubt this invasion was a huge success for both our Steampunk community (worldwide as well as locally) and for one of the most popular historical festivals in America.  This sort of mutual exchange and support should continue to help many different parts of society come together and make the world just a lot more healthy and fun for all of us in the future!

To see the full review go to:

Admiral Ramon Leon del Mar
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The Squire

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Re: Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand 2010
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 09:10:24 pm »
Thank you, sir, for the most excellent review!
"You don't mind breaking the law?"
        "Not in the least."
"Nor running a chance of arrest?"
        "Not in a good cause."
"Oh, the cause is excellent!"
         "Then I am your man."

Ramon Leon del Mar

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Re: Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand 2010
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012, 06:02:53 am »
You are most welcome Sir!

I don't get paid for my articles, (I write for a number of online journals in addition to my blog) so I look for things I really enjoy and share that enjoyment with others through such articles.  There are a few events I have attended that I couldn't write a positive review of, but then...I simply didn't write a review at all.  My time is precious and I give it to those that deserve attention for their hard work and honest effort to share good things with the community.


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Re: Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand 2010
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2012, 09:15:52 am »
I've wanted to go for years! I grew up right outside Houston and spent every summer in Galveston. I had heard of Dickens on the Strand, some friends of mine went on a choir trip there in high school, but it was only until I moved to KANSAS for college did I get into steampunk. Now I'm 13 hours away and while I'm home in Texas the week before Dickens, I never seem to be home during the right time.

It was a great article, I love reading about it and someday I shall go!
Home is where the faire is


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Re: Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand 2010
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 04:04:07 pm »
I had not heard of Dickens on the Strand until a friend from Houston called me this past event to tell me that he was there.  That was too late for me to drive from Alpine, however, arrangements are being made that perhaps I can attend this year coming.  Now, after reading this great article, it appears that I have all the more reason to do so!
"Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever." -Baron Munchausen