What is Teslacon? It’s the biggest Steampunk convention in North America, held at the West Madison Marriott. The 10 after their name designates how many times it has run so far; next year will be 11, but you get the idea. Every year has a theme, this year’s was ‘Murder on the Orient Express,’ which was fun and interesting, though I will note that the train sound effects running nonstop throughout the venue did wear on me after a while.
The convention was setup in an L-shape running along two corridors of the convention center. Vendors were in the halls along with two vendor rooms. I’m told they only allowed half as many vendors as normal due to the hotel performing renovations. There was a smaller vendor room with only about 8 vendors, then the main vendor hall that had 4 rows of vendors which were selling all sorts of things related to the Steampunk lifestyle.
The convention also offered a good number of full immersion distractions, such as High Tea, builder sessions, murder mysteries, presentations of the era, themed dinners, and the big masquerade ball on Saturday night. This year was the Villain’s Ball followed by the Witch’s Dance. There were also Steampunk panels, one of which was by Doc Phineas. Doc is a noted Steampunk celebrity within the community, for such things as his Wizard of Awesome Blog and his role as an Antiquities expert on the Pawn Stars TV show.
Two of the events I witnessed were the Villain’s Ball, which had live entertainment and more interesting costumes than you could imagine, along with dancing and a cash bar. The other was the Tea Cup Races. I wondered how they would be able to race a Tea Cup. How it works is the contestants have built modified remote controlled cars that include or resemble Tea Pots of varying sorts. They ranged from imaginative to just plain cute. The contestants had to drive their racers through an obstacle course within a set amount of time completing each obstacle along the way. I even got to see a car versus train crash when one of the racers lost control of his car and ran it trough the moving model train he was supposed to be driving alongside.
One of the interesting things about this convention is there were not badges or bracelets. You were given a passport when you paid your entrance fee. As you entered each of the areas to see the offerings, a door attendant would ask to see your passport.
A low spot for me is they are a “cash only” event. When I went to purchase my passport I was told no plastic, they only took cash. The vendors luckily did not have the same policy.
On the whole, I had an enjoyable weekend at Teslacon and will return again next year.
I give this event 4 out of 5 Stars.