It’s not often patrons at an upscale society shindig have to be warned not to come armed…
But that’s exactly what happened in the case of Saturday’s Party Arty at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This year’s theme, "All the World’s a Fair," advised attendees to a) "come dressed" and b) "Steampunk flair preferred."
Here’s where it gets a little odd.
"No prop weapons or real weapons will be allowed in the Museum," the invite cautioned. "Security reserves the right to deny entry to guests whose attire and/or behavior compromises the safety of guests."
A high society event that urges partygoers to engage in themed costumary, and in the next breath warns them not to come packing?
You got it.
That’s because "steampunk," for the uninitiated, entails period clothing – from the 1700s and 1800s – and is often accompanied by weapons, such as British army officer William Elliot‘s 1866 Double Barrel Derringer or the seagoing Annihilator MK II blunderbuss rifle. Both are available for purchase on steampunkemporium.com for $53.95 and $129.95 respectively.
They’re sold alongside period clothing such as Men’s Victorian Outfits, Ladies Victorian Dresses and Suits, 3-D "Mad Scientist Goggles," pocket watches, "Debonair Mustaches" and the like.
Get the picture?
Aware of such peculiarities, organizers and the museum took preventative measures to ensure no such armaments found their way into the Nelson lest there be any foul play.
Wikipedia describes the eccentricity as a "sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history and speculative fiction" evoking "a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or ‘Wild West’-era United States (remember that one?) —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy…(involving) futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned then, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology includes such fictional machines as those found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne."
So how did it all unfold?
Modestly, says KC Strip honcho Bill Nigro who ferried approximately 300 of the Steampunkers to a late night after bash in Westport.
"Some of the people were dressed like that," Nigro says. "I saw more guys in Victorian outfits than I did girls. I didn’t see too many girls in Victorian clothes, but it was kinda cold out."
No did Nigro see any of said forewarned dudes bearing arms.
"I didn’t see any weaponry," he says. "They probably had ’em under their coats."