Port Townsend Steampunk


This was the summer of all summers here in the Pacific Northwest. We had sun for literally months, a very unusual occurrence here, but this has added to the drought which has crept up on us.

Port Townsend, host to numerous festivals and events that range from the Jazz Festival to the Kinetic Skulpture Race, made the the most of the gorgeous weather, and so did I.

One of the events particularly piqued my fancy,  The Brass Screw Confederacy, Port Townsend’s Steampunk festival. Somehow the steampunk movement had escaped me but Wikipedia clued me in.

"Steampunk refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrialsteam-poweredmachinery.[1][2] Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. It may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian."

And then to make it even more intriguing, my TV-Producer son Ryan told me he would be working on the new reality TV show called Steampunk'd!

That clinched it. I was going.

The event program stated that it the festivities started at 10 am so I was up bright and early. Driving through downtown along Water Street, the place looked deserted and I wondered if I had come in on the wrong day. (I learned later, that there had been a hootenanny the night before, so people were slow to get going.)


But then slowly, oddly attired (to some) people started to appear, strolling along, bowing to friends and bystanders, peering through goggles, which appeared to be de rigeuer! The clothes seemed to be a mixture of Victorian and outlandish! Hats on everyone!

Top hats, cloche, helmets, you name it, it was on show. Men wore tails, or leather jerkins - just as long as there was metal, leather and wood incorporated, it was in style.


Women's styles ranged from prim and proper to wild, with bustiers and corsets worn on the outside. Very odd. All with the requisite wood, metal and leather trim.

I had initially assumed that this was a "young" bunch of hipsters but ages were across the board, from youngsters of 4 or 5 to oldsters in their 70's.


This is a "maker" world, where these creatives produce amazing devices, contraptions, jewelry and clothing. The American Legion Hall was filled with vendors, selling everything Steampunk. Amazing works of art, wrought from - you guessed it - metal, wood and leather. Repurposed odds and ends, cell phone cases disguised as metal purses, imaginative jewelry and hats galore! I discovered too, that there are Steampunk novels!


Troupes of dancers performed intricate steps and routines that involved fighting sticks and scarves, the bells on their high leather boots adding to the music.

All the while, the parading continued, young and old, creating a spectacle, hearkening back to Port Townsend's Victorian past - but with an eclectic twist.

It was a glimpse into another world. There was far more going on than I saw and I highly recommend that if there is a local steampunk event in your area, go, enjoy and join in.

I can see how it would be a fun group to be involved in, forever playing "dress-up" with no excuses!

The Brass Screw Confederacy

Email: Phone: 360-301-5884 Mailing Address: Brass Screw Confederacy, PO Box 1050, Port Townsend WA 98368