Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret does it again
By Gary Spencer
Photo: The Bronwen Belly Dance Troupe performs at Ye Old Yellow Cabaret I; photo: Joe Mays
Some subcultures are on the fringe; others are so underground the majority of the public isn’t aware they exist. That seems to be the case when the subculture in question is the burgeoning, yet somewhat clandestine, steampunk movement going on right here in Dayton. In fact, the strength of steampunk culture in Dayton has warranted not one, but now a second festival right here in the Gem City. It’s called Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret (YOYC), and the second one will take place this Saturday at the Old Yellow Cab Building in downtown Dayton. But what’s it all about? That’s a somewhat complex question, but one I will attempt to answer here. But first, a little backstory might help provide a framework for all that’s steampunk happening here in Miami Valley.
According to legend, Daytonians Sir Ernest Octave Suszczynski (aka Greg Simerlink) met his future wife Dr. Gintia Peaseblossom (Cindy Simerlink) some years ago in Istanbul. Through the hands of fate, they found themselves in control in of their very own “airship” to which they added trusted colleagues as crewmembers and passengers for their steampunk-related journeys to cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and Detroit. And while Suszczynski and Peaseblossom have been hosting picnics, teas, salons, symposiums and “steampunk strolls” during Dayton’s semi-annual Urban Nights when their Airship Passepartout decides to dock here at home, the couple had wanted to have a larger scale, steampunk-oriented event other steampunk crews and airships would travel to for food, drinks, music, dancing and revelry. And with that, the Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret was born. While the event might seem lofty, cerebral or even arty atfirst glance, according to Suszczynski, the motives behind YOYC are pretty simple.
“I love parties and wanted to throw a big party featuring many of the things I love with the hope other like-minded people would show up as well,” Suszczynski explained. “[Peaseblossom and I] have had our local airship active for over four years, and while we have small get-togethers, we felt a larger-scale event would make the group more cohesive and let more people in the area know about steampunk. Many steampunk groups in other cities put on events which we enjoy traveling to, [and] we felt we should highlight Dayton as well.”
So this begs the big question – what exactly is “steampunk”? Suszczynski explained:
“Steampunk is a subculture which permeates through many aspects of life – music, fashion, decor, books, etc., even though it originally started as a subgenre of science fiction in the late 1980s. It is based on a fictional divergent timeline which starts in the 19th century with many of the best aspects of the time such as style, manners, craftsmanship and design. In practice, steampunk is whatever a person wants to make of it – in the basic sense, it is a maker movement and grouping of free thinkers. There are groups – airships, typically – in cities around the world where people of different backgrounds come together to craft, build, discuss and appreciate each other’s skills and ideas. Plus, many people dress pretty snazzy.”
For those of you who don’t feel that explanation really gives you a clearer vision of what steampunk culture is about, don’t worry. You don’t have to wear aviator goggles to enjoy the sights and sounds promised at Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret 2. And the entertainment element – beyond checking out fellow attendees’ Victorian-flavored outfits – is pretty stacked: YOYC is set to have live music, vendors, DJs, dancers, local craft beer and food trucks – something for everyone to sink their teeth into.
“For the entertainment, we have quite a variety,” Suszczynski said. “[There] is a lot of amazing talent that never gets seen and we felt a show such as this could highlight a good variety of performers and expose them to a wider audience.”
Some notable performers for this Saturday’s YOYC include the “circus punk” stylings of The Ford Theatre Reunion, Dayton shockabilly crew Skeletones, Chicago’s famed “electro-swing” DJ Vourteque, the Les Odalisque belly dance troupe and fire dancers DaShane Starfox and Skye Amos. Wrapping up the evening is DJ V-Ral from Columbus, who will play a mish-mash of musical styles that should get anyone who hasn’t already been dancing to do just that. Suszczynski hopes such an array of performers and entertainment will attract the curious and open minded to see what steampunk culture is all about and enjoy it.
“The way steampunk ties into Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret is our group is putting it together and many of our performers and vendors have some connection with steampunk,” Suszczynski said. “The show itself has no dress code and you can wear whatever you wish, but it is also a great opportunity to try out something different. Anyone who attends should expect a welcoming and festive atmosphere where they can see amazing entertainers, along with interesting outfits and creations. I hope all of [our readers] will feel welcomed to attend this event.”
Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret 2 will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9 at The Old Yellow Cab Building, 700 E. Fourth St. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door for attendees 21 or older. For more information, please visit airshippassepartout.com/ye-olde-yellow-cabaret-ii-august.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.