After the insane night of the Friday night which saw me up on stage dancing to YMCA, Saturday found me on another stage. In order to stand and talk about the Journal and Hellfire Club, Andy the organiser had given me a table on the stage in the upstairs market area. Incredibly I was sat next to Thomas Willeford (it wasn’t just the ladies swooning; I was glad for a chair) and Matt & Harry from Victor & The Bully. As always, links on the article are to independent steampunk artists or traders. It would be great if you could click through and give them a like on their social media page.
Because of the job I was doing, I didn’t get round to speak to many people but I did see some familiar faces. Gail from Ornamentology was present, as was Hilary Sedgwick from Lilac Moon Designs. I managed to chat to Emma from Apple Tree Vintage. Clive Frayne also returned to promote his Hive Gallery. It’s evolved into something more since I last spoke to him in the February Whitby Steampunk Weekend. I’ll be getting in touch with him about it in the future, so stay tuned on the Journal. As you all know Thomas Willeford from Bruteforce Studios had returned and was giving talks about his experience of steampunk. I got to sit next to him and his assistant, a professional model and actress from Derbyshire. On Saturday I was also next to Victor & The Bully then they had to leave on the Sunday morning so it was just Thomas and me along with Lewis and Adam from The Little Vintage Lamp Company. They make superb lamps out of reclaimed wood, copper pipes and gauges. They have a fantastic steampunk feel to them. Lewis even makes rifles and a flamethrower! They’re deserved of a like as they’re relatively new to the community and it’s great to see what they’re doing.
Sadly I didn’t get much time to walk around as I was busy chatting about Steampunk Journal and The Hellfire Club. I met and chatted to many wonderful people on the two days I stood and if you were one of them, thank you dearly and I hope you’re enjoying reading the Journal. I’d also like to thank trhe people who bought something from the stall. It was a pay as you feel stall with various items that I had acquired over the years of running the magazine. I’m going to donate the proceedings to charity. It was only a modest sum – £25 – but I didn’t feel that I could benefit financially from the generosity of artists in the culture. Given that I was in Whitby and there was a charity involved over the weekend, I will be donating the money to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
For those of you unfamiliar with Sophie, she was a Goth who was killed by a group of people for being different. It’s my opinion that Goths, and over the last ten years the Foundation, are two of the main groups that we can thank for our current climate of acceptance and tolerance being where it is today. While there’s still a long way to go, if it wasn’t for communities like Goths standing up for what they believe in, we’d likely still be in a mindset of the 1980s where anyone who dressed differently was ostracized. It could have been a lot harder being a steampunk.
There were also two other charities raising money at Whitby Steampunk Weekend. Sandie Grant ran Stand Up to Cancer which is a group set up by Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.
RAW is an animal rescue centre local to Whitby. Established by Norma Carrick and her late husband Dennis, Norma works tirelessly to ensure all animals that come to her are given the attention the deserve.
Please go and give their Facebook pages a like and support the valuable work they’re doing.
At 5pm trading ended and after we’d all tidied up we joined many of the visitors for the first Whitby Steampunk parade. We headed up to the Met Lounge & Ballroom where started our walk down to the Whalebones. Headed by the glamorous face of the Weekend, steampunk top hat maker Terry Stockhill, the procession ended on the grass at the top of Khyber Pass where we had a large group photo. At the front with Terry was Monty.
The second Whitby Steampunk Weekend was different to the first in that they had a second evening of entertainment. Held at the Met Lounge & Ballroom and everyone dressed in their best. The night had a Masquerade theme and some of the masks worn on the night were stunning. I decided to use it as an opportunity to air – possibly for one of the last times – my Steampunk Freddy persona and went with the full latex head mask.
Guests were treated to an atmosphere usually reserved for dignitaries or celebrities looking for their next award. As we walked in, a photographer took our portrait in the doorway as though we were on a red carpet. Inside we were met by modern songs performed by string quartet Arco. They played several songs as people found their seats, got drinks etc. The entertainment got underway with The Vedettes. These three dancing girls from the North East put on a dazzling display of nostalgic 1940s era choreography. the start of which was marred only by an unforeseen issue with the sound equipment. It led to only the bass coming through the speakers. After a false start, they really got underway and it was great to watch.
Sean Paul and the Water Badger
After another interlude with Arco, the special guest band came on. Called Sean Paul and the Water Badgers, the mysterious name had gotten people whispering throughout the day. People were curious about who this previously unheard of band could be. Andy – the organiser – seemed to have pinned a lot of trust in these guys. Still, he seems to have a very good judge in character and great eye for talent, so we weren’t worried. Excited more than anything.
As they came on stage they seemed to carry the familiar look of a steampunk band. There they were in smart trousers, jacket and shirt. One wore a bowler hat with large demon horns and what looked like an animal skull. He also wore a roman style mask while the guitarist had a plain, emotionless mask in the style of a human face. Something didn’t sit quite right. I was sure I’d seen them perform before but couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally the big reveal came and they removed their masks to show who they really were. It was Victor & The Bully! Who would have known? Was it the fact that they wore the same outfits they always do when playing onstage? Or that they performed Victor & The Bully songs? Either way, I think it’s fair to say that nobody had a clue up until they removed their face masks.
The night was compered by the gorgeous Montague Jacques Fromage who was faultless as usual and had us laughing and cheering for the acts. He was a great choice for the weekend’s announcements and he may fare better on the tannoy during the day. Usually announcements come through sounding like a mobile wedding DJ from the 1980s; you can hear someone talking, but that’s pretty much it.
Seeing the night through
The night was topped off with a classic DJ set by special guest Atticus Oldman from Steampunk Almanac. Atticus is a driving force for steampunk in Scotland and his magazine has some excellent articles about the culture.
As the guests danced the night away, I made my way back to my hotel in order to prepare for more of the same on Sunday.
It was a fantastic experience seeing the event from the “other side” as it were. I got to see how the traders view steampunk events and I have to say it’s basically the same as we do. They go for a good time, to see friends but with the added benefit of helping people build their steampunk outfit while making a few quid in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them spent the money they made on the evening entertainment. But that’s ok because they’re having a good time. It’s nice to think that organisers, traders, artists and visitors can all come together and enjoy themselves collectively. It’s one of the many things I like about steampunk.
Who knows what the third installment of Whitby Steampunk Weekend will entail? What I know is that if it’s as big and boisterous as the second one, you’ll be in for a real treat.