So, I just got back from World Steam Expo last night. Holy crap, what a great time! I very much wish I'd paid for a room at the hotel but, considering I somehow didn't know about the con until only a few weeks before and it's close to my parents' house (30 minute drive), I didn't spring for the full-price room (con rate rooms were gone). We'll get back to World Steam Expo in a minute. Right now, we're going to talk cons and money.
You see, I have this thing about conventions. Namely that they're expensive. There's travel expenses, con fees, food, hotel, outfits (more on this in a bit). So when it's a con I've never attended, I tend to trim costs wherever I can. I mean, if it's dull and/or not a lot goes on in the evenings or early mornings, the hundreds of dollars for a hotel is a total waste when I can stay elsewhere for free.
Then there are the fun cons where I know I'm going to be up half the night and have to get up and hit things hard again in the morning (like the Romantic Times convention). I don't care if that was at a hotel a mile from my house (there isn't a hotel that close, but the point is the same), I'd pay to stay at the hotel because I know I need to squeeze in every ounce of sleep that I can.
World Steam Expo is like that. Hell, it might be even crazier. At RT, the official programming pretty much ends at midnight (I don't have a program handy, but I think it might have gone later one night). The bar shuts down at 2, and most people have crashed by then. At World Steam Expo, the Saturday night official events went until 3 AM. On Sunday, it was 2 AM. (Friday officially ended earlier.) I didn't stay on Saturday, but I can tell you that on Sunday, there were still a lot of people there at 3. A lot.
And other cons I've been to haven't been anywhere near that active. In fact, I've noticed a trend (both about cons and about myself). Reader/fan cons are much louder and more raucous than writer cons. And... I like loud. Don't get me wrong, there are writer cons that I adore, but as a general thing, I prefer an excuse to dress up in things I don't normally get to wear and hang out drinking with hundreds of people I don't know. It's a strange dichotomy that I do well with people I don't know when we're either one-on-one or in massive groups. Small groups... that's when I get nervous and clam up. It doesn't make much sense, but it's just the way I am.
I'm also the girl who loves playing dress-up with bunches of other people. Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid, and one of the worst things about being a grown up is missing out on that (none of the parents around here dress up :( ). So, when I'm presented with a convention where 90-95% of the people dress for the occasion? Oh hells yes, please sign me up! I will spend the next year working on slowly building up my outfits for World Steam Expo 2013 because I really felt under-dressed this year. The detail that went into some of those outfits was amazing. I wish I'd have taken more pictures, but I'll post at least some of what I have at Steamed! next week.
Most of all though, the people were amazing. Everyone I met was really friendly and welcoming, and I made some fantastic new friends over the weekend. Going in, I knew one person (Cindy Spencer Pape) who was going to be there, and we weren't always there at the same time. It says a lot about the kind of people in attendance that I was rarely, if ever, by myself. Someone was always stopping me to say hi, asking which event I was going to, telling me that the band going on in five minutes was amazing and I should try to hit the concert... It was like they could all tell I was a newbie, but no one ever made me feel like I didn't belong. This was my first real introduction to steampunk as a community, and it was amazing. I can't wait to go back. Only next time I'm making sure to get a hotel room.
I also want to give a shout-out to Ms. Martha's Corset Shoppe and Pendragon Costumes. The corset I bought from Ms. Martha is absolutely amazing. It cinched me really effectively, but unless I tried to take a really deep breath, I never felt it. The most comfortable, amazing corset I've ever had on. I'll definitely shop with her again. And the people at Pendragon... gorgeous leather work. I need to save up for the coat I want, but I will get it. I am a big fan of low-pressure sales, and all of them were fantastic about showing me things and helping me decide without being pushy. (Of course, it helps that their stuff is so great.) I highly recommend both stores.
So, yes, World Steam Expo was a fantastic weekend. Met some great people, learned a lot, saw some incredible artists perform, and had more fun than I ever thought possible.