Walking through the doors of the Madison Radisson, I already knew I was in for a treat. Outside stood a few steampunk enthusiasts, dressed to the nines in their top hats, waistcoats, and brass goggles.
TeslaCon is the brainchild of designer Eric Larson, and it has not disappointed yet. Signs on the walls warn convention-goers (or "passengers," if you will) to use their parachutes if our dirigible should crash. The registration clerks asked me if I had any baggage, and eager porters awaited to whisk my belongings away (unfortunately, I didn't get to experience this firsthand). Everywhere I turned, the sound of a Zeppelin engine followed.
TeslaCon has attracted just over 400 intrepid steampunk fans from around the Midwest, including a group from Cincinatti. James, who goes by Whitaker Bedlam von Mordenkraad when at steampunk events, said he heard about the convention online.
"Everything is so elaborate in this genre," he said. "I love the Victorian and Edwardian eras, but I also like to be somewhat anachronistic."
James' costume included several brass weapons, a top hat and a pair of aviation goggles. The others in his group were equally well-dressed, with the girls in new bloomers from one of the Duty-Free Shops.
The Duty-Free Shops were located in several different rooms surrounding the lobby of the hotel. Jeff Plaff and Dawn Przybylski are the husband-and-wife behind Highwind Steamworks. They create and assemble gorgeous pieces of jewelry, replica weapons, and other accessories. Next to them, their friends Andrea Marcinkus and Keith Kaye purveyed corsets through their company, The Artifixer. All of their corsets are under $100, and are original designs from Marcinkus, a PhD in design history.
After the launch of the zeppelin, which made my skin tingle and my imagination soar, some participants headed over to Basie's, the hotel's bar.
Sitting feet away from me was Cherie Priest, TeslaCon's guest of honor. Priest is the author of Boneshaker, a popular steampunk young adult novel. She really is incredibly sweet and funny, and she loves the steampunk crowds.
"I know a lot of people in this room, in one way or another," she says. This is her fourth steampunk convention this year, and she's going to another in two weeks.
If you want to experience the year 1880, and catch a great murder mystery in the process, head over to the Madison Radisson Saturday or Sunday. There are still a few tickets available, and lots of stuff to see, do, learn, and buy. Huzzah!