While it is true that Emporium Vernesque is a bonafide steampunk convention, one of the two held annually in The Netherlands (the other being D.E.S.C. end of July in Meppel), this convention is very welcoming to everyone interested in steampunk, whichever interest (literary, fashion, cinematographic, you name it) that may be. It comes as no surprise that you see all manner of steampunks together with people in normal clothing or outfits belonging to other subcultures gathering together at the Willemeen venue whenever the event is happening.
Once again the organization managed to put up a well varied and very welcoming event, with a program that was bound to contain something for everyone.
Taking into account the spacing issue from the first edition last year, they had moved several parts of the program to the LUXOR Live venue, literally around the corner from the main part of the event: the Willemeen. They had put up a handy program sign near the cloack room, giving people ample opportunity to figure out what was happening where.
And even though the convention, despite of being spread over two locations, is still small scale, it makes up for that by using every possible inch of available surface to do something. Ranging from shops, a photo opportunity set up, lectures, workshops, bands, board game and crafting tables, space to sit and two bars. An upstairs one for drinks and a downstairs one for drinks and affordable food. And if none of the food is to your liking, simply cross the street or turn the corner to be within walking distance of the Arnhem city centre where you are bound to find something edible that does strike your fancy.
In that way, Willemeen and LUXOR Live are top locations, right around the corner from the main bus stop, the central train station and the heart of the city itself, with parking nearly available (mostly not free but hey, you can’t have everything).
And size aside, they are very cosy. I personally did feel like adding the second venue to the program did help to alleviate some of the crowdedness from last year, but it was still not that easy to move about most of the time. But you know, the sheer fun and fabulous atmosphere of the convention made up for that.
Eventually the Willemeen will sadly prove too small for this convention, which will no doubt be growing every year, but for now, it does work, even though it can get very full with people everywhere.
Shopping wise it was a veritable dream for finding bits and pieces to make and upgrade costumes with.
Socialising wise it was absolutely fantastic. It was nice to see so many different styles of steampunk together, and especially great that people were so open minded toward other styles of the movement, even fringe styles. I personally feel that this warm and welcoming feel is something typical to this event, and that alone is a good reason to visit Emporium Vernesque. Everything else just adds to the awesomeness of this event.
Fashion wise I saw everything from Victorian horror, what we would see as “classic” steampunk, steampunk lolita Neo-Victoriana, SteamGoth, ethnic steam, casual steampunk to Nerfpunk and a few Dieselpunks.
My only regret was the costume/outfit competition. Instead of letting everyone entering that wanted to they had an impartial person pick out his personal six favorites, who were then judged by an applause meter by the gathered crowd. It’s just a bit of a pity it went this way, because there were so many people there with awesome outfits and I feel that all of them that had wished to participate should have been given the opportunity. Also applause meters are never impartial but a matter of “who has the most friends” (it is how it is), so maybe next year they can get a jury together of the steampunk fashion writers, there’s always at least two present after all, and surely one can trust in a jury of peers so to speak. So hopefully next edition, everyone will be able to enter that wishes to do so and judging really will be impartial.
It does need saying that it was great to see that there were several styles represented from the “classic” steampunk fashions to SteamGoth. So it was good to see diversity represented on stage.
That one competition aside, this edition was even better than the last one, and if they keep on going on the track they are now, I have no doubt that this could become the prime steampunk convention of Europe. I’m curious to see what they’ll do next year!
More photos from the event can be seen here.
Photography in this article by Hilde Heyvaert and Bert Van den Wyngaert.
No photos may be used without express permission of the photographer.