“WAIT! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’RE TELLING US HOW TO MEET OTHERS BEFORE YOU’VE COVERED CLOTHES OR ANYTHING ELSE!!”
Yes. Yes I am. Why? Because clothes do not a Steampunk make! You can meet other Steampunks without going all-out in the outfit department. And any good Steampunk will still accept you for what you are – new to the movement. In fact, by getting out and meeting people first, you will find it a whole lot easier to compose your first outfit – you will be able to get ideas from the people around you and they will be more than willing to offer their advice about where to pick up a good bargain.
So, how do you go about finding like-minded individuals?
I was quite lucky in that a friend of mine had been trying to convince me to go to the pub with her and meet her friends for months. I had always said “no” because at the time I was suffering with some severe anxieties – large crowds of people still make me incredibly nervous and I don’t really like talking with strangers that I haven’t been introduced to by someone else. However, one day, I bit the proverbial bullet and went to the pub. I didn’t really know what was going on, I knew only that these people met at seven thirty every Wednesday. And that was how I first met the Steampunk Society.
Now, not everyone can be as lucky as I was and have a friend who is already in the “scene”. So where do you go?
Go Out and About
Well, firstly, keep your eyes peeled for Steampunks out and about. Generally speaking, Steampunks won’t mind if you approach them and ask about their clothes or where they meet. In fact, most would be happy to chat to you about local groups! So if you spot a group out and about in your local area, don’t be afraid to approach them and ask.
You can also ask in Alternative Fashion stores if they know of any groups that meet in the area. Small local stores, in particular independent alternative retailers, tend to be more involved in the local communities than chains, so it is always worth popping in to talk. Other shops to try asking around in include charity shops (where Steampunks frequently purchase items), vintage stores, pubs and cafes or tea rooms.
Social Media and Forums
Not so big on the wandering around town? Live in a village or hamlet away from the hustle and bustle? (Pardon the pun!) Another great way to meet Steampunks is to get yourself on Social Media and Forums. There are hundreds of great sites out there that will allow you to connect with other Steampunks from all over the world. Facebook immediately springs to mind, with groups such as the British Steampunk Community, Brass Goggles and Steampunk Canada all welcoming new members. If you type “Steampunk” followed by the name of your town, or vice versa, you will usually find something in the search results. Otherwise, simply join a national group and ask if anyone knows of a group near you!
On the subject of Brass Goggles, forums are also a great place to meet people and ask questions. Operating in a similar but less time-consuming way to Social Media, forums can be easily dropped in and out of without missing any of the important parts of the conversation, so I recommend finding a few good ones to join. Brass Goggles is generally the go-to, though Steampunk Empire is also a nice place to hang around.
Newspapers and ‘Zines
You can also do a Google search for Steampunk “newspapers”, e-zines, social blogs and to-your-inbox newsletters, such as The Steampunk Journal, Steampaper, Steampunk R&D and The Steampunk Chronicle. Many of these Steampunk cultural sites have search pages dedicated to finding local groups, so they are always worth looking into.
It is also worth checking out individual bloggers, such as myself! I met Mala Foxx online because her blog, Adventures with Mala, came up in my feed, and one day I decided to message her about a post she had written that I wanted to use as the basis for a presentation I wanted to do. We’ve kept in touch, and she’s awesome! If you already have a blog, simply go to the search function on the homepage and seek out Steampunk bloggers – there will be many, I can assure you! I just googled “Steampunk blogs” and came back with Steampunk Scholar pretty much immediately!
Steampunk Magazines are actually quite few and far between, the only significant ones that I have managed to find are Steampunk Magazine (which will shortly be shutting up shop) and Gearhearts, which focuses primarily on art, photography and literature. Sometimes you may find notable groups or events mentioned in these magazines, but they are unlikely to go to local-group level. Inevitably, you may not find these much help in actually meeting and finding other Steampunks, but they can provide some great conversation starters!
These links are by no means a comprehensive list to where to go to meet other Steampunks, and I’m sure that there are some that I have missed. If so, I’m sorry!
The point is, finding local Steampunks is actually a lot easier than you might think! You may believe yourself the only one, but you will be surprised at how many Steampunks there actually are the world over!