One of my more recent mottos (as of the last three-ish years) has been “do something that scares you”.
Honestly? It’s been rather liberating. By embracing this motto, I have stepped out of my comfort level. I have traveled to Florida to spend a weekend with girls I met on the internet. I have gone to conventions, flown to events that I wouldn’t have thought to go to… Hell, I even moved across the country and that was terrifying.
So… For New Years, I really didn’t want to feel like I was a bother to my fresh set of incredibly lovely friends. Instead, I put up a post on Facebook polling my friends to see what I should do – Comedy or Steampunk Circus?
While I was mostly inspired to go to the concert because some people I knew would be there, I also wanted to go because I had seen pictures and video of Abney Park and it just looked like something I would love. I’m a little bit Tim Burton, a little Amanda Palmer, a whole lotta Tank Girl, and definitely love the aesthetic of the Steampunk genre.
While I don’t devote a lot of my time to researching it, I find it visually stunning. Brass and bustle skirts and goggles and top hats and modified vintage just calls to me. Pretty much, if it used to shine and has a little luster left, I’m going to love it (I kept a silver spoon that was my grandmothers even after it went through the garbage disposal. I love it.). There is something so absolutely whimsical in thinking about what has been and what could’ve been. Imaginations run rampant in the steampunk community. Old computer fans are modified and installed into tophats, gas masks and fallout helmets are worn not only with pride, but with panache.
So what does one wear to a Steampunk concert? This was honestly on my mind the two weeks leading up to the concert. Originally I had planned on sewing an outfit for the fun, but I have a tendency of being a bit scatterbrained and neglected to do so. Luckily, I am easily influenced and had bought a bridesmaid dress at Goodwill MONTHS ago. It was a bit large, so I put a corset on over it and cinched the front of the floor length gown into a bustle. I also had some deconstructed/post-apocalyptic looking fabric that I pulled on underneath for some layered effect.
The night before the concert I realized that my neck was going to be bare and it didn’t seem to work. Originally I planned on using body glue to affix a cameo directly unto my skin, but I remembered that I had purchased these metal gears for scrapbooking (I know, right?) and I had a bunch of empty earring hooks. It actually came out quite well.
So the outfit came together and I managed to arrange to go to an afterparty with some of the people that would be at the concert. I ended up taking the MAX. So… If there is a “PeopleOfPortland” website, I might actually be on it. I was putting on black and white striped knee high socks to the delight of many an onlooker. To be honest? I loved the way the outfit looks and I will probably wear it again.
I got into the city early and because it was so cold I stopped at a nearby bar for a drink (and to change my shoes). Afterwards, I walked over to the Star Theater.
The Star Theater said that the doors would be open at 8pm, so when I arrived at 7:30, the line was already long. I stepped up behind a couple wearing Victorian costumes and steampunked goggles and started feeling giddy. That, or it was the adrenaline rush of being in the cold and wearing four inch heels. I’m going to go with the costumed couple.
My friends arrived and we all started chatting and sharing stories and the doors finally opened at 8:30. We were welcomed by a juggling man on stilts. He had us laughing as we waited to allow the throngs ahead of us through.
Let it be said that the Star is my kind of venue. Beautiful amber light radiated from the sconces. Deep crimson curtains hung all over the place. The walls were lined with vintage posters, ads, pinup girls(!!!). Upstairs, there was a tarot reader and someone selling steam gear, along with a modest bar and deep seating. The main stage seemed to be its own entity and the adorning curtains only drew my attention more. My only regret from the evening is not touching them. They looked like they felt amazing.
After grabbing a drink, I ambled over to the staging area. The Wanderlust Circus had an acrobatic couple performing on the dance floor. As we waited for the show to begin, I realized that I didn’t have to worry about not knowing many people.
I have BAD WOLF tattooed on my shoulder, and Whovians tend to find other Whovians. I was stopped no less than six times by people admiring my tattoos. It was great because I got to have conversations with a bunch of new people.
Eventually I made my way back to the front of the stage and watched in awe as the members of the Wanderlust Circus performed for the crowd. The man on stilts that had us laughing outside had changed and did an entire lasso routine (sans stilts). People contorted, balanced on moving BMXs, and I found myself completely mesmerized by a woman doing aerial acrobatics on two lengths of suspended fabric.
After they ended, Abney Park took the stage. I had stepped away for a bit and when I returned the fog machine had to have been turned to eleven. The band members up front were much easier to see than those in the back, but there was this incredible energy pulsating through the speakers.
I’m not going to lie. I had a few drinks, but I can’t even listen to their albums without dancing. It was strange to me that people were swaying and not dancing as much as me, but I didn’t care. I was living in the moment and the moment was glorious. At one point I was dancing with my eyes shut and felt really warm. I opened them and the spotlight was shining down on me. I didn’t care. I just kept going.
Several guys pulled me into dances and I couldn’t stop laughing. They were all very talented at spinning me around, but I was getting dizzy so I politely ended it. That, and I’m just not used to dancing in five inch heels.
Abney Park paused to ring in the New Year and I got kisses from friends. I love kisses. They’re so delicious. They played a little bit longer and when the show ended I was exhausted but happy.
I went outside and ran into Captain Robert and I asked him for a kiss and he told me that would be inappropriate (as he is married), but he would give me an inappropriately long hug. I agreed to make it creepy as possible and the band members that were outside all came over. They were all incredibly lovely and signed my friend’s CD and then we were spirited off to an afterparty.
Abney Park is coming back in July. If you are in Portland and want to have a night of fun, you should go. You’ll see me there. Say hi.