Over the weekend, I attended my first TeslaCon in Middleton, WI. TeslaCon is a convention based on the worlds of Steampunk and Victoriana. Honestly, as someone who has attended other conventions: TeslaCon deserves your attention. Let me list the reasons why - ten reasons to be specific.
1. TeslaCon is an "Immersion" Event
As, noted on their website, TeslaCon is, at its core, an immersion event. This means attendees get to participate in the story that is created. They get to play out their personas. They can attend immersion panels, presentations, and event interactions that add “layers of immersion” to the story they are participating in. There is a cast and crew divided into the "good side" (important names include Captain Kreger or Dr. Todd) and then there is the villainous members of S.W.A.R.M. (think vampires, creations, and those who dabble with dark magic). Both sides are at odds and their actions add to the experience of the convention.
2. TeslaCon takes a theme very seriously
As part of the Immersion element, each year TeslaCon has a new theme. The theme for 2014 (the 5th year of TeslaCon) was Journey to the Center of the Earth. They created a story-line about needing materials found in the center of the earth, accessing them via the North Pole, using a machine that will drill through to the Earth's core, etc. Then there was the promise of dinosaurs and that they delivered on multiple counts. You are even given a passport (to be stamped) instead of the normal paper in plastic badge typical of conventions.
Did I mentions there were dinosaurs?
3. Dressed to the Nines
I have never attended a con where 98-99% of attendees were dressed up. TeslaCon is that type of convention. From Victorian frocks to intricate metal accouterments - there is something for everyone at TeslaCon. I wrote an in-depth piece (with more examples) about TeslaCon Fashion over at Geek Fashion Week that I hope you will check out.
4. Maker's Room
Yes, a Maker's Room. What happens in the Maker's Room? On the hour there are at least two new programs, not to mention maker's tables where sewing is constantly going on or where you can learn about leather items. The programming is varied and can apply to other items, not just steampunk. For example: how to build your own dinosaurs / puppet, how to tailor clothing, up-cycle thrift-store clothing, make facinators, or make your own molds (and that is just a few items). There is also a fix it table. No need to carry glue or a sewing kit, when there is a whole table to consult in the event that something breaks. This was easily my second favorite room at the whole convention. I'm a maker and love to learn new skills and trades.
5. Decorum and All Politeness
Seriously, everyone is extremely nice. Even the villainous members of S.W.A.R.M. are charming. At a time where headlines are flooded with sexism, sexual harassment, body shaming, etc, it is nice to make it through a con without hearing about any of these issues.
6. Tea Room
For those who prefer coffee (I require coffee on a daily basis) there is area to grab coffee to go. However, for those with more time and for only $10 for all entire weekend, you can purchase a stamp to the tea room. There you can sit, converse with other con attendees, and be served tea and cookies of your choice. I now want all conventions to have a tea room. Many a time I have been in heels or a costume at a convention and long for a place to sit. I could never imagine such a place where you could not only sit and relax, but refuel with tea and snacks. I was able to sit and listen to S.W.A.R.M. members converse in character and it was utterly delightful.
7. Short to Non-existent Queues
We have all been there at one point or another. Queuing in lines to get into a panel, meet an illustrator or actor, or even pick up a limited edition item.... to discover there were a few too many people in front of you. At that point you are shut out and all the time you stood in line wasted. Guess what? I did not experience this at TeslaCon. The con is a manageable size, in my experience, I never missed out on anything. It is a nice change not to have to stress about a schedule. Major plus for TeslaCon.
8. Quality Shops with Beautiful Goods
There are two dealer rooms, plus a few stands here and there which sell unique, handmade goods. None of those mass-market shops that flood the exhibition halls seller items you can find on Amazon. Instead think handmade clothing and accessories (jewelry, hats, etc), custom tea blends, spicy dark chocolate in the form of gears, a printing press, wind up toys, props made by small businesses, self-published or indie published books, and even dinosaurs with top hats to fit in with the theme.
9. An All Day Event
Even though I had prior engagments both Friday and Saturday night, it was nice to see that the convention has events going well into the night. The con kicks off at 10 am and has events going up until midnight - all included in your regular price of admission. There was a fashion show, a gala, a TelsaCon themed Cards Against Humanity, plus other gaming, a ball, a comedy improv show, and a steerage dance. Not to mention two ticketed dinner events - where apparently everyone stays in character (ala Immersion Event).
10. Creativity Abounds!
Everywhere you look - there is creativity (as seen previous with clothing): Handmade machines, Handmade puppets, Sculplures, etc. Here are a few examples
*I do have one complaint, but it has nothing to do with the convention: The Marriott has the typical hotel lighting which makes it a little difficult to take in-focus photos. Yes, you do have plenty of examples here and that is because I took 3-4 photos per subject after the fuzzy photo / lighting revelation.
TeslaCon has announced that 2015 will have two themes: The Wild Wild West and Night Circus. I suggest keeping an eye out on more information via TeslaCon's official facebook page. I honestly cannot wait and hope that I will see you all there.