The Northern Court

We are a group of people with individual experience in attending and volunteering at other people’s events. Among our members, you may find writers, musicians, designers, seamstresses, roleplayers, and of course, steampunk aficionados. The EuroSteamCon 2015, in Portugal, will be our collective debut as event organisers.

Steampunk in Porto?

Zeppelin in the old Crystal Palace

It was in 1865 that King D. Luís I of Portugal opened the doors to the Palacio de Crystal Portuense (Crystal Palace of Porto), designed by English architect Thomas Dillen Jones as a distaff counterpart to the London Crystal Palace. Built out of granite, iron and glass, this building would host the first Exposição Internacional Portuguesa (International Gallery), the main aim of which was to showcase the scientific and technological discoveries of the time, through an endless row of innovations, from Portugal and elsewhere.

Reality brought “concertinas inglezas”, “vistas stereoscopicas”, “rewolvers” e “estojos de mathematica” to the city of Porto, but it isn’t hard to imagine a fictional alternative in which visitors tried everything from aviation prototypes (perhaps similar to the curious Avion III… but functional), to mechanical butlers, perhaps even reaching out to steam-powered vibrators (which were, after all, so popular to cure the feminine ailments of Victorian England).

English-speaking steampunk may evoke a gaslit London marred by the fumes of industrial progress, or a Wild West ripped apart by bandit-infested freight trains, but there is no stopping a luso-steampunk from exaggerating our own local scenarios – it isn’t hard to imagine the Clérigos Tower improved (Nasoni would disagree, no less) with the addition of a picturesque steam-powered elevator, or the Gaia waterfront transformed by the activity of humongous metallurgical complexes. Why don’t we think of the Lello bookstore, as it is taken by assault by rowdy debates, in a time where the young ladies of Porto decide to abandon their grooms to go pilot zeppelins across Europe?

The city of Porto is rebellious, audacious, innovative. It named our country, and yet the English legacy runs bright in its veins. It searches the future without forgetting it’s past. It’s retrofuturist, a little like the event we aim to organise.