It seems strange writing a con report for AetherFest and not have it come out as some emotionless business report about backroom proceedings. Being a con chairman, I was privy to a world very few attendees see and now when I attend conventions elsewhere, it becomes nearly impossible for me not to notice the good and the bad of convention organization and hospitality. Thankfully, if there’s one thing I can brag about when it comes to AetherFest, it’s that every attendee and guest I talked to told me that we excelled at both. I made sure our staff and volunteers were running around constantly (rest is for the attendees and the dead!) making sure everything was in proper order and my co-chairman and I almost never sat down, asking every attendee and guest we could if there was anything we could do to make their convention experience that much better. I’m proud that our reputation amongst the American Steampunk community is that of being the most welcoming Steampunk convention they’ve been to and we indeed to keep it that way. People viewed it as more of a family reunion and anyone they hadn’t met was just a long-lost relative they should reach out to and chat with, even if for a bit. Also, parties on the rooftop? Can any other Steampunk con out there really claim such an awesome locale?
However, enough about bragging rights and more about said locale. So, the St. Anthony is about a century old, but it definitely looks older, what with its lavish decor on the inside, its fantastic and spacious rooms at an affordable price, the rooftop venue for our nightly entertainment, and, most of all, the staff. Dear gods, I have never worked with such a helpful staff in my life and not once did they yell at anyone or ruin things completely (all slip-ups were quickly fixed). In fact, not only were they exceedingly helpful, they also loved Steampunk and were overjoyed to have the convention itself! You have to understand that to my staff and I, this meant the world to us, as every other hotel we had been to had been wary and decided not to do their research to learn what Steampunk was really about. The St. Anthony did and they’ve told me they do not regret hosting us and definitely look forward to it again next year.
My favorite part of the convention, you ask? Well, besides the notoriously uproarious parties the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association is known for, I would have to say it was all of our lovely guests. Before AetherFest, I didn’t really care about guests at a convention unless I was a devoted fan or knew them personally, but inviting them to AetherFest I realized how much guests really bring to a convention, in terms of numbers and their art/charisma. On the musical side, there were people who came out just to see Marquis of Vaudeville, Master Bones Jangle, and Hipnautica perform on our rooftop stage and there were definitely those that came to see the exceedingly-talented Devil Bunnies Burlesque Troupe do their magic. I also made a bit of a leap inviting two personal favorites and now friends of mine from up north, the Red Fork Emperor, Ay-leen, the lovely lady in charge of this blog, and the darling Lucretia Deafour of the Wandering Legion, to AetherFest and to Texas, a virgin land mostly unexposed to their magnificence. Well, that quickly changed as the two took the convention by storm with their fantastic panels and their jovial personalities. Don’t believe me? Just invite them to your convention and you’ll see what I mean. I also met Lady O.M Grey for the first time and, let me tell you, all you lovely authoresses out there have something to live up to now! All of the other guests were amazing as well and we hope to have them again next year, as they continue to grow with us and we, together, bring even more of ourselves to the Steampunk community as a whole.
I enjoyed AetherFest, even if it was mostly spent running through back halls and making sure all the lovely folk were fine and dandy, but AetherFest enjoyed having all of you there. If you didn’t get to experience it this year, then definitely come on down next year! Texas is not nearly as bad as you think and our weather, while unpredictable, is bearable and sometimes amazing during con season. AetherFest next year will continue its intimate atmosphere and has open arms, Steampunk or not, for everyone that wishes to attend our loud and boisterous family reunion. In Steampunk, we aim to be inclusive, progressive, innovative and loving, so as long as this lovely culture of ours is around, AetherFest will remain a testament to those values we hold dear.
Also, we party hard.
Mr. Saturday (aka Pablo Miguel Alberto Vazquez III) is 1/2 of the inter-dimensional space-time traveling duo Saturday & Sixpence, Gentlemen-For-Hire. Besides performing with the aforementioned mime, running AetherFest and the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association, he is an outspoken speaker/writer on the radical nature of Steampunk and has declared himself First Minister of Silly Walks. If you see him, do a silly walk with him. You can also find him on Facebook.