A Report from Motor City Steam Con’s ‘Victorian Salon’ Nov. 5

When you’re a vagabond like me, it can be really hard to meet new people and make friends. Being a Steampunk, I’ve already got a tribe, it’s just a matter of finding them!

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Luckily for me, the Midwest seems to be a hotbed of Steampunk activity. This past summer, the first Motor City Steam Convention was held in Detroit and the active and friendly community in Michigan decided to take it one step farther this weekend. Folks gathered together Saturday night to enjoy a Victorian style salon, an event that organizer Salathiel Palland told me should become a regular event if all goes well.

nr1My partner in crime for the evening was my sister-in-law, and we arrived a little late for the festivities so we didn’t get in on the initial mingle. Good thing there was plenty of time between activities and at the end to schmooze. The first talk by Shetan Noir about a bit of local folklore was already going when we arrived, but we still got to learn about a creature called The Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf) that is either an early warning system, or actually responsible for any number of disasters in Detroit’s storied past.

 

Next up, we enjoyed a musical interlude by Richard Harper. He chose a few songs that people at a salon really would have heard during the steam era, and did a great job of giving us background behind the composers and the individual pieces. Not to mention the performance itself, which was awesome and perfectly suited to the occasion.

And the night just got better as Chris Gregurich and his lovely assistant (a mustachioed cowboy whose spurs jingled delightfully as he was being gently twisted and knocked around for our benefit) gave us a little lesson in bartitsu. For the uninitiated, this was a pretty vicious fighting style developed in an era when guns and swords were outlawed in the city, but every gentleman had a cane. But don’t take it from me! I took some videos (sorry about the quality…). You can also find out more about the many different kinds of trainings they offer at the Capital City Martial Arts website.

img_0064Ted and Kate Jauw finished out the evening with one of my favorite things, a lecture about booze! I’d had the Sazerac cocktail on my to do list for Booze Glorious Booze for a while, and I got the skinny on every ingredient in the drink. Glad I didn’t bother with boring old internet research! Thanks Ted 😉

 

One of the ingredients in a Sazerac is absinthe, and Kate’s family actually makes their own. Both Ted and Kate discussed the role of alcohol in remedies by herbalists, and the anti-pagan pathos that led to the well-known assertion that the wormwood in absinthe would drive you mad. Everyone got a chance to sip their own little glass of extract of absinthe and it was a delectable anise-y treat to cap off the evening.

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Maybe I’ll see you at the next one!


Phoebe Darqueling is a Minnesota-born writer who blogs about Steampunk and will be coordinating a collaborative Steampunk novel in 2017. Click on the image below to find out more!

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