The Life Expectancy of Steampunk as a Subculture – Some Results

The controversial post regarding the life expectancy of Steampunk versus the life expectancy of Cyberpunk keeps receiving feedback and a certain picture is forming which is encouraging for some parts of the world but rather disheartening for others.


The Good:

The scene is doing well in North America, the UK, and in the Netherlands. This is the sum of the feedback I have gotten from the Netherlands, Canada , Britain and the United States. And there will hoepfully be a podcast on the UK scene in late September or October, Cthulhu willing.

The grievances I voiced (i.e. mainly older people in the scene, younger folks few and far between or missing) also do not apply there. In The Netherlands and the UK especially, teenagers and youth in their early 20s form a visible chunk of the scene.

The scene in Portugal and Spain is also still active, but has shrunk somewhat compared to previous years.


The Concerning:

The rest of Europe seems to be in trouble. Not only did my friend Anja Bagus (to my knowledge Germany’s most successful Steampunk author) confirm my observations regarding events in Germany but my friend Dan Aetherman, the most prominent Steampunk in Switzerland, has written a blog post in response to my article (in German), in which he agrees with me and states the very same problems I mention are present in the Swiss scene.
One possible explanation for this, as he writes, is, that the Swiss scene is maybe just a southern extension of the German scene and thus shares the problems. If this is so, then all the Swiss scene needs, is its own identity and I hope they will find it, because the German scene is more in trouble than I thought.

Obviously, I got the most feedback from German Steampunks, since most of my contacts are in Germany and some of that feedback is cause for alarm.

From what I learned, the scene in Germany is not only very fragmented and cliquey, there also seem to exist a noticable number of people who consider themselves the guardians or even lords and ladies of the scene and who actively keep newcomers out, if they do nt have the ressources (time, skill, money) to meet their arbitrarily declared standards of what a true Steampunk should do or wear.

Also, I have not heard anything directly from France or Italy but have been informed that both scenes have first fragmented more than the German scene and then basically imploded.

If anyone from France or Italy is reading this, please let me know if you have any first-hand knowledge.


In Conclusion:

It looks like the Steampunk scene is likely to continue for some time but simply not everywhere, which is rather sad, since it made such a good and strong start all across the world a few years back.


3 Responses to The Life Expectancy of Steampunk as a Subculture – Some Results

  1. Hello,
    I’m a Parisian Steampunk, and I just read your article.
    The scene in France is a bit fragmented in this moment, yes, but I think it’s just in this moment. We got several associations all around the country, which are pretty good in what they do (check out for the Breizh Steampunk Society in little Britain or even for the Clivra in Lyon for instance).
    For my part in Paris we got my association, called „La Société des Libellules“ („The dragonflies‘ Society“ in English) and we are doing 4 events in the year. Two picnics in june and in october, and two evenings: one for christmas, one for the spring. These are mostly small events, but everytime we see new people. <3
    Some others associations do what we call "Apéristeam". Every month or every 3 months they meet in a bar, and discover new faces around a good drink (absinthe mostly 😉 )

    The French community was very active a few years before, some cities organized what we call "Steam tour": during a weekend the Steampunk of the city were offering a city tour, concerts, visits of museums, and restaurants, in order to get to know the city, and others Steamers (in French we also say "Vaporistes" ^^ ).

    I think the community is changing because we grow old (some of us are having babies for instance 🙂 or having much responsabilities in our jobs) and also because in France everyone is a little depressed because of what is happening all around the globe. But don't worry, we will come back soon, stronger than ever.

    Thanks for your article, keep doing the good work!
    May the vapor be with you / Salutations Vaporeuses,

    Miss Mona Longueville

  2. I just think steampunk will have some ups and downs. It’s still popular among the diehard sci-fi fans over here in the U.S. However, it reached more of a mainstream peak for the past handful of years. I assume the novelty wore off for a lot of people. At the moment, it seems like steampunk is out and supheroes are in. Star Wars is pretty big too. Cyberpunk isn’t the only competitor for steampunk. Also, money is tight for a lot of people. Even the faithful steampunk enthusiasts are going to pick and choose what events they’ll attend because of time and money. Luckily, many teenagers seem to enjoy steampunk in the USA. Youth followings are an encouraging sign.

  3. Avatar Marilyn Ostrow
    Marilyn Ostrow says:

    you didn’t mention the Japanese Steampunk scene at all. I was in Japan last spring, and there do seem to be some stores with Steampunk clothing and gear in Tokyo, and the band KAO=S is Steampunkish.