While at Haworth Steampunk Festival, I managed to sit down with Michael Young. You may know him as the Blade of Whitby or as the organiser and ever present steampunk of many a successful event. We chatted about his role in the organisation of the Haworth Festival, what he does when he’s not dressing as Wesley Snipes and how a chance encounter in Whitby formed a stunning sequence of events that led to me sitting in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales with a splendid cup of tea and a slice of cake. Not that I’m complaining.
Journal: You seem to be involved in quite a lot of events like this.
Michael: That’s the difference between me and Steve (Baron von Krakenhunter). He sells a lot of stuff, which I don’t. He makes his own stuff, which I don’t. I organise events, he hasn’t done one before. On this occasion he did organise the stalls and the bands, but I’ve organised the trains and the burlesque dancers (Haworth steampunk weekend Friday night entertainment). I got the music and the lights.
We’ve been to Bolsover this year, we’ve been to Lincoln. We’re going to Beverley in a few weeks and Lincoln Christmas market. We’re going to Leicester Space Centre for the Steampunks in Space (30th November, 2013). I organised my group to go to it.
Journal: So you’re an events organiser, essentially?
Journal: Do you get paid to do it?
Michael: *puzzled look* No, it’s all voluntary. All I do is use the Facebook group. I pick an event and if they want to go, they do and if they don’t, they don’t. In the next few weeks, I’ll be asking everyone where we want to go next year. At the moment we’ve got nothing for next year’s calendar.
We’ve been invited to Ilkley Gala. Last year, we went to Skipton Castle for the Waterways festival. They had loads of canal boats on. This year I won’t be going to that, I’ll be attending the Gala instead. They met us the year before at the Queen’s Hall Tea Rooms in Ilkley. It was great because 30 of us just turned up in Ilkley, which is quite good.
The Facebook page keeps me busy as well. I organise all our outings on there and we also get a lot of spam. You have to be approved for joining, but then all of a sudden we get posts saying “Get a loan from us.” It’ll be a picture of a woman with a boys name, they’ll have no friends, and 500 groups. I accept most people, but I do get wary if they’re from abroad and have no friends. But if the profile doesn’t look right, I won’t accept them.
Journal: So what do you do when you’re not doing this?
Michael: Oh, please don’t ask… *laughs*
Journal: What, is it embarrassing?
Michael: No, nothing like that.
Journal: You don’t have to say.
Michael: Oh, I’ll tell you; I’m a Traffic Warden. That’s why (at Haworth) I was telling everyone not to park in the permit bays, so my lot all know and they’ll try to get out of it.
Journal: How long does something like Haworth take to organise and arrange?
Michael: This was done in about five or six months, which isn’t a long time. Next year’s, we’re going to start planning it in the next two to three weeks. We want to do it properly. Some of the elements of this year were done spontaneously. Like those tables (points to the Floating Traders stalls), they’re in the way of the Fashion show, so they have to get out of the way when it starts.
I’ve never done something as big as this before, so I can’t say how long it should take, just how long we’re going to take on the next one. You need time. A good six months. We’re lucky with Haworth because they block the roads off every weekend anyway to help the tourists. So that takes one element out as we don’t have to apply for road closures. But the rest will take a good 4-6 months.
Journal: So was it Nicky at Firth’s Boutique that came up with the idea?
Michael: Nicky went to Whitby (Goth Weekend), saw us all there, thought it was amazing and wanted to know more about it. Then she posted, or someone posted something from her asking about steampunk. Steve replied first, then I replied. We then both got involved as we’re both heads of two Facebook groups.
Journal: Did Nicky ask you to arrange it with her?
Michael: We offered. Steve and I wanted to get involved because I’ve got the people to come here. (Nicky) has the vintage cars, the road closures, the Hall. Steve sorted the traders to come here. So we’ve all helped each other out. I’m dealing with the train rides today. I asked people to be there, so I have to be there with them. But there’s been different people doing different things, it’s not just the three of us.
If, for some insane reason, you haven’t already visited and joined Michael’s steampunk Facebook page, you can do that here: White Rose Yorkshire steampunks
You can peruse Michael’s photography of his events on his Flickr page by following this link: Blade of Whitby Flickr photostream