Emporium Vernesque was back this year, for the 3rd time, and instead of having split its location between Willemeen and Luxor Live like last year, they had moved to Luxor Live entirely, leaving Willemeen completely for the first time.
Luxor Live is much larger than the previous venue, and it needs to be said, a lot more beautiful. Even though the light wasn’t best to photograph in, it did give the entire venue the exact right kind of atmosphere.
Being completely in the new venue caused some glitches and there was a bit of chaos, but most steampunks didn’t let that hinder them and they happily moved around between the rooms or the area just outside of the venue. Things like that are to be expected from new surroundings, and I’m sure that next year all the kinks will have been ironed out.
The organisation had done a great job trying to set-up a wide variety of things and to divide them properly amongst the areas available. Proper signage made it very easy to locate the all the rooms and the balcony, which gave a great view over the main hall as well as provide seating for those wanting to just sit down for a moment.
The upstairs roomhoused a bar (the other bar was downstairs) and a small cinema room with a few vendors on one side and the back as well as Dorian H. Leamy the Enviromancer doing his 3D magic as well as a small photography exhibit by Laura Sheridan.
All the while Dorian’s art was rotated with steampunk cinematography, which was a nice touch even though sadly the room was never really dark enough as long as the sun was going strong outside.
Whilst it was really cool that there were so many things in one room, it wasn’t really clear what Dorian was doing there, basically using a table and a chair with his laptop, and Laura’s beautiful photography seemed a bit carelessly crammed to the side.
The cramming was a bit of an ongoing issue, and whilst it definitely had its charm, it was a bit hard to see all the things happening. It also didn’t really help that there wasn’t a set program in clear sight, so it was hard to know when fashion shows, lectures, performances and everything else was going on. There were so many awesome things, but some sadly got a little bit drowned amidst the sheer variety on offer.
I think it would be a good idea to print programs next year and give one to everyone upon entering the convention next year.
That said, if you kept your eyes open and weren’t bothered by having to manoeuvre the rooms, you could easily find all kinds of treasures to see and do, because Emporium Vernesque really IS a very varied convention, and there’s something for nearly everyone.
Whilst with two bars, drink options were plenty, food choices were a rather limited, but with the main street of Arnem right across the street and the station around the corner, food options were pretty much limitless if you didn’t mind leaving the venue to get a bite to eat. Especially as the weather was beautiful and warm for the time of year, going out to get food wasn’t much of an issue at all.
For us there was only one real downside: some of the photographers we had the displeasure to encounter that day.
This has nothing to do with the organisation, but it was bothersome enough to write about it anyway. Especially as it not only bothered us but several others also.
At one point some guy was outside on the street, snapping photos of steampunks gathered in front and around the entrance to Luxor Live. When pointed out he should ask before taking photos he started rambling on about how he knew his rights and that he was allowed to and that it was ok because he was a street photographer and he wasn’t selling them. What he clearly forgot is that people have what is called “portrait right” and that anyone not working with a photo contract and not participating in a public manifestation or rally or something similar (and standing outside Luxor Live very much does not count as that kind of participation!) has the right NOT to be photographed.
Maybe next year security could be briefed to keep an eye out for people like that, because he not only made some visitors uncomfortable, he clearly had zero respect for the steampunks participating in the event.
And worse: the photographer of Luxor Live was a special kind of obnoxious. It does not matter that you work for the venue, you should still ASK people (and to be fair that goes for anyone taking photos of people) if you can take their photo. Being at a convention does not necessarily mean people attending are comfortable with having their face plastered on the venue website.
Again, this is by no means the fault of the organisation, but it was massively annoying regardless.
And it’s sad to see that that some (and sadly not always outsiders) still manage to weasel their way into an otherwise fantastic and welcoming event to come and be a right bother. It kind of feels like they are taking advantage of the good nature of both Emporium Vernesque and the vast majority of people attending.
That aside, this year’s edition may not have been the best, but it was a clear testament to why Emporium Vernesque is such a diverse and awesome event if you look at the total package. They do their very best to place as many aspects of the steampunk movement in the spotlight, focussing on more than just looks and visual aesthetic. Whilst that of course is a big part of the movement, they are very much aware it’s not the only thing that matters and they do their best to acquaint people with all other bits and pieces that sadly often get overlooked. There’s also no other place where you will see such a great diversity in style and types of steampunk. We saw everything from fantasy and steam mixes, to casual, contemporary, full on Victorian, Edwardian, steampunk lolita and SteamGoth as well as several different kinds of dieselpunk, and then more.
Almost everyone got along splendidly, which let’s face it, is what we love about the community.
And THAT is what makes Emporium Vernesque so special: it continues to bring together people that essentially love the same thing in a friendly atmosphere, once a year, to celebrate their love for the steampunk movement in as many ways as the organisation finds the time and room to set up.
Group shot by Kees Stravers, used with permission. Click the link to see all of his photos of the event.
And now, on a closing note, some pictures of steampunks, which is what we’re sure a lot of people are waiting for.
We do have even more photos, you can find those here.