Rhiannon Harries: Steampunk takes me back to the future

Urban Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Keeping up with the vagaries of London's nightlife sometimes feels like a full-time job. Only last week I was feeling smugly prepared for any of the dress-up-and-dance eventualities the capital might throw at me – I'd perfected a pin-curl for fifties nights in Hackney and mastered the requisite swing steps to get me round the dance floor at a Shoreditch Blitz party. I even had some normal clothes in the unlikely event of doing something as old school as, say, going to a pub.

A phone call from my sister, however, threw me into disarray. "Come to a steampunk night with me on Saturday. Dress code is neo-Victorian," she said breezily, explaining she didn't have time to elaborate because she had reached a critical stage in her bustle making.

The steampunk scene, as I discovered after some frantic googling, has its origins in a genre of fantasy fiction set in the 19th century and stuffed with real or imagined inventions such as time machines and analogue computers – think Jules Verne and HG Wells written from a 1980s vantage point.

White Mischief, the club night in question, has become something of a fixture on enthusiasts' calendar thanks to its eccentric mix of vaudeville, comedy and circus acts and vintage sounds.

Mercifully for me and my hastily cobbled-together outfit, the anachronisms inherent in the concept translate to a pretty relaxed dress code, so mingling with the space-pirates, laser-gun-toting Boer War soldiers and mini-Crinolines that evening were Josephine Baker types and a girl in a buttock-baring PVC number.

The appeal of retro-futurism is intriguing, particularly given the hints of it appearing in mainstream culture too. On the catwalks this season designers presented a vision of the future not unlike the imagined space-age styles found in the Sixties cartoon series The Jetsons.

Perhaps we have simply wrung the 20th century dry of straightforward nostalgia, but right now there is something especially captivating about a world where the idea still prevailed that advancing science, technology and knowledge heralded an exciting future. We may have yet to invent a functional time machine, but given the creativity and enthusiasm I witnessed on Saturday night, nothing seems beyond the realms of possibility.

How cheapskate are you?

A word of warning should a penny-pinching other half surprise you with a romantic break in California this summer. Among the slew of downturn "deals" on offer is the dubiously-named "survivor package" at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, where a room for two with breakfast usually sets you back $219 (£137).

Modern-day Scrooges can whittle down the price by knocking off "luxuries" at $20 a pop. The cheapest package comes in at a tempting $19, but here's what you WON'T be getting: breakfast, air-con, pillows, sheets, toiletries, towels, lights or even a bed. Stay-cationing in your semi never looked so good.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own