GEAR Con

Westercon and GEAR Con will be co-residing in the same space and time in 2016.  For regular GEAR Con goers many of the main features will be continuing inside of Westercon, and for folks who’ve never attended, get ready for a StreamPunk intensive event.  Find GEAR Con programming on our online schedule.

What is GEAR Con?
GEAR Con is Portland, Oregon's annual festival of steampunk literature, art, music, and culture, orchestrated by the Steampunk Film Festival and Portland's steampunk communities. Since 2011 we have delivered a packed weekend of programming on history, technology, combatives, costume & fashion, writing/publishing, craftsmanship, and more for the enjoyment & improvement of fans and creatives alike. As a music & performing arts festival, GEAR Con's stages have hosted leading lights in steampunk music, vintage jazz, neo-cabaret, vaudeville revival, electro-swing, and chap hop, plus lavish entertainment showcases from circus arts and burlesque to story-rich steampunk stage magic and original live audio drama. GEAR Con 2016 at Westercon 69 offers Portland's steampunks a unique challenge: to integrate our traditions and specialties with one of the longest-running SF/F conventions in a seamless and complementary fashion.

What GEAR Con programming will be a part of Westercon?
Victorian Martial Arts Symposium IV (Mt Bachelor/Mt Hood) - Academia Duellatoria  and GEAR Con present Portland's annual Victorian combative intensive. Instructors from Academia Duellatoria offer classes in bartitsu, English pugilism, cane and umbrella, suffragists' self-defense.  This year in blending with Westercon 69 they will offer a variety of classes on Medieval and Renaissance weapons as well. In addition, Academia Duelatoria's sister program Swords For Scribes will offer several writers workshops on writing fight scenes based on these weapons systems. Explore more information at Swords For Scribes.

The Power Station (Three Sisters) - The Power Station - Ever wonder what you can do with 350,000 Volts? Westercon69, in conjunction with Portland’s Steampunk convention GEAR Con 2016 is pleased to present mad scientist emeritus Don Anderson and the amazing Tesla Coil, an Extreme High Voltage Demo unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! Physicist, safety consultant, educator and imagineer of exotic high voltage devices for over 30 years, Anderson takes you to the dawn of the electrical age with an overview of the life and creations of Nikola Tesla--inventor, immigrant, quixotic genius and rival to industrialist Thomas Edison--in a lecture styled after the learned societies of the Gilded Age. The centerpiece of this presentation will be a working replica of Tesla’s signature device and a guided tour of its breathtaking coronal displays and three foot electrical arcs!

The Cabaret of Curiosities - Sunday night’s concert with steampunk bands and DJ sets. 

Vanity's Vaudeville Vixens - [18+] GEAR Con's annual burlesque revue produced by Vanity Thorn.

GEAR Con Salon (Weidler) - GEAR Con's principal dedicated space for panels and discussions. When in doubt, check in here for your hourly dose of retrofuturist neo-Victoriana, and for happenings key to our weekend-long, convention-wide Steampunk Mystery Game.

GEAR Con Tea Parlour (Rm 1455) - Drop-in for basic tea & munchies. There will be a schedule in the room for High Tea reservations and Tea Duelling times. 

Questions and Answers with the Chair (as published in Progress Report #2)
We are pleased to announce that GEAR Con 2016 will be part of the extended programming of Westercon 69. GEAR Con is Portland, Oregon's annual festival of steampunk literature, art, music, and culture. Lea Rush (W69 Chair) and Stephen Couchman (GC Chair & head of GEAR Con programming at W69) answer some of the frequently asked questions about our Con-Within-A-Con happening in 2016.

Q: Con-Within-A-Con? What is happening with Westercon 69 and GEAR Con 2016?
In order to make a viable bid for Westercon, the “Portland in 2016” team had to have a hotel contract in place for the first weekend in July. GEAR Con already uses the optimal hotel for Westercon’s needs over Independence Day weekend. There was a general desire to accommodate all parties, to expose a larger combined audience to more facets of science fantasy, and to preserve GEAR Con’s continuity. We checked, and Westercons are frequently held jointly with a local annual con if it is held during the same time slot, so Lea and Stephen agreed that GEAR Con’s traditional programming and entertainments would be brought under the Westercon 69 umbrella.

Q: Will a separate membership need to be purchased for each convention?
There are no additional memberships or passes to buy. Administratively, there is only Westercon 69, and your membership grants you access to all programming and events, including those on loan from GEAR Con. This also means that there is no discounted rate if you “only want to attend GEAR Con”.

Q: What is GEAR Con? And what does that mean to the programming of Westercon 69?
The Gaslight-fantastic Explorers’, Adventurers’, & Romantics Convocation (GEAR Con) is Portland’s annual steampunk fan convention and arts & music festival, founded in 2011 by Stephen Couchman in the wake of community response to the inaugural Steampunk Film Festival.

Westercon 69 will cover a broad range of programming topics, and GEAR Con is a natural fit to join us. Prime GEAR Con content, like Tesla coil demonstrations, the Steampunk Scrapheap Challenge, Victorian martial arts programming, and the performing arts showcases will all be represented.

Q: Are there two ConComs? And will panelists, staff or volunteers be handled differently between the two conventions?
There is only the Westercon 69 ConCom, and all volunteers are Westercon volunteers. ConCom volunteers and on-site staff (committing to 15 hours or more) receive a complimentary membership to Westercon 69/GEAR Con.

GEAR Con’s chair is volunteering on Westercon 69’s ConCom as a programming department second. Stephen will help Westercon incorporate & schedule GEAR Con’s assets and assist GEAR Con presenters to submit their workshops, etc., through Westercon’s intake process. GEAR Con staff and crew are encouraged to volunteer wherever Westercon needs them. In fact, everyone is encouraged to volunteer! Send an email to volunteers@westercon69.org, and let Di know what you’re interested in. On-site staff committing to 15 hours or more will receive a complimentary membership.