Steampunk can be described as a sub-genre of science fiction and literature that melds the 19th-century's British Victorian style of clothing and mannerisms with the steam-powered technology and machines of the 19th-century Wild West. There seems to be no better place to celebrate this subculture than in Virginia City, Nev., which is a quick day trip from Lake Tahoe. Sept. 13, 2014, will be the Fourth Annual Victorian Steampunk Ball at the historic Piper's Opera House in downtown Virginia City.
Victorian manners mix with a punk attitude during steampunk events — Photo courtesy of High Desert Steam
The observance of all things steampunk - Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, goggles, corsets, top hats and steam-powered (but harmless) weapons of the gentleman persuasion - will begin with a parade through the former mining town.
Other event highlights include a Wild West Medicine Show by Dr. Belladonna Spirits, the Asha World Dancers, steampunk vendors and costumers, contra dancing and Victorian Ballroom dancing. Steampunk vehicles and maker builds will also be available for viewing. The public is encouraged to attend in costume.
A creative steampunk mask — Photo courtesy of High Desert Steam
High Desert Steam hosts various steampunk events in the area all year, including vendor expos, dinners, the Tweed Ride and a holiday party in downtown Reno. Tickets are on sale for $35 each and can be purchased online. Some of the proceeds go to keeping up the restorative repairs at Piper's Opera House.
A steampunk band at Piper's Opera House — Photo courtesy of High Desert Steam
Virginia City was created after the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode and during its boom had over 40 saloons and stores. The small town still has a famous cemetery and historic churches, restaurants and some amazing views of the mountains and Nevada Desert. Virginia City is a National Historic Landmark and includes Gold Hill and Silver City.
Virginia City's Piper's Opera House was opened in 1878 and entertained the people of the Comstock for years. Plays, performances, speakers, weddings and special events have been held there since its opening.