Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

The subject keeps coming up as to what "Dieselpunk" means, be it a genre, a subculture, an aestetic, a lifestyle, etc....

This keeps getting discussed in every other topic to the point of derailing discussions, for which I admit my own guilt as much as anyone.  it seems worth having a topic just to discuss this centrally important issue.  As Larry mentioned in another thread, this is a big tent with room for interpretations, but it's probably worthwhile to keep an open dialog just to better acquaint ourselves and our passions.

Just to get the ball rolling, here's a few of the interpretations I've gleaned from our members:


Dieselpunk is a...

Genre: it is an interpretation of SF/cyberpunk fiction and art through a Diesel Age lens. You read books by Robert Jackson Benett and have a Stefan image on your desktop.

Cosplay: it's a chance to dress up in wild styles inspired by the Diesel Age.  You dress in fedoras or peaked caps for parties or cons.

Fandom: as the two above and specifically where they intersect.  You dress as Diesel Fett for Gencon.

Aestetic/Look: it's placing a Diesel Era look upon today's things, be it retro clothing, streamline/deco design, jazz/swing-influenced music, etc.  Perhaps openly influenced by Punk Punk (tats, piercings, odd hair), perhaps not. 

DIY: as above, but you make it yourself. You've customized your iPod to look like a Ronson Lighter. 

Culture/Counterculture: it is a set of shared values and styles, self-defining, nostalgic or ironic, that go against the mainstream grain and seek to ellicit change or at least stand out.  You wear your fedora in rebellion against the souless, corporate mainstream social order.  Pissing off your parents is optional.

Lifestyle: as above, but you're dressing the part every day rather than just for meetups/cons/nights out.  You wear your fedora to the office, insist on vintage cocktails at work parties, and hum Ellington or Wolfgang Parker as you strut down the street.

All/Some/None of the Above: what it says on the tin, some combination of the above elements or something else entirely.


So, what's it to ya', Pops?  What's your take?


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Looks like you and I are on the same page George, in both the time frame and our reasoning for it as well as the nature of dieselpunk being both a form of fiction as well as aesthetic.

This thread makes for an interesting introduction to the subculture for a newcomer like myself. *grin*

Mostly I'm simply visually-oriented; I grew up on my father's collection of Doc Savage paperbacks and have always liked the visions of the future from the Thirties pulps that have now come to be called retro-futurism.  The whole "between the Wars" period is important to me and, while I don't cosplay or costume or have a defined "style" per se a lot of my clothing choices---bombers, workboots, cargo pants, Raybans, usw---have a definite retro vibe.

Frankly, I found dieselpunk via Pinterest, where the steampunk pins tend to be a little . . . fussy, let's say, for my visual tastes.  Bit heavy on bustles, tophats, ornament and frills.  I actually encountered the term there via an image of a "Dieselpunk Flash" cosplayer that I particularly liked, and went looking for more examples.

As it turned out, a lot of the referents---Doc Savage, Sky Captain, Streamline Moderne, things like that---were stuff I was already into.  Funny how that works!

As more an observer and fan than participant, I'd say my list of criteria goes something like:

More Doc Savage than Jules Verne.
More Sky Captain than Sherlock Holmes.
More Batman than Spiderman.
More gaiters than spats. :-)
More grease than steam.

And so forth. It's a start. 

Well, I suppose that this is as good a thread as any to make a formal introduction to you fine folks.

I'll start by saying that I've never identified as a Punk -- Steam, Diesel, or otherwise. I do possess a great love of the Jazz Age, and what were flappers if not the first Punks? They were certainly the preeminent counter-culture of their day, and were responsible for sounding the death knell of Victorian moral ideologies (though I'd say Victorianism wasn't well and truly dead until the repeal of Prohibition). Being a performer of burlesque and other variety arts, I have a deep abiding love for Diesel-era burlesque and it's predecessors, vaudeville and carnival sideshows. My clothing aesthetic, however, can vary anywhere from '10 to '65, so if someone asks me for a label, I tell them that I'm a Retronaut. My passion for aesthetics knows no specific time period, even though my historical interests lie mostly within the Diesel era.

Is that enough to make me a Dieselpunk? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I figure I'll pour myself an Aviation, roll my stockings down and stay a while. ;)

Great to have you with us on the forum, Ava!

For those that don't know, Ava is joining Johnny Dellarocca and I as a new co-host on the Diesel Powered Podcast. 

Welcome Ava, good to meet ya :-) 

Welcome aboard, Ava, and well stated. Love the name "Retronaut".  Allow me to mix you your first Aviation.

Hoping this is the right thread for this kinda thing. I'm new to this board.

Hi. I'm Jared. Just joined. I'd say Dieselpunk is what you make it. Some are better at art and others are better at cosplay and such. For me it comes through more in the cosplay portion and music as well. I've scrolled through the Jukebox on here and I love what you guys have up. My first three CD's ever were Jazz and Swing. Has anyone here ever listened to Caravan Palace? I got turned onto them recently. Based out of Paris. Electric Swing. As you can tell by my profile picture, I love to dress up. There was a Steampunk themed weekend at the last Renaissance Festival. My now ex girlfriend and I were the only ones to dress up as Dieselpunk. I had to do some serious convincing for her to go with it. The roaring 20s have always been a fascination for me. I'm amateur when it comes to aircraft, but that doesn't damper my love for WWI era class planes. The underdeveloped nature and room for expansion and creation when it comes to Dieselpunk, that's what I like so much. I suppose that's what Dieselpunk is to me. Pure innovation and creative powers applied to one of my favorite time eras. The music and cosplay are simply the outlets I use to express my love and concept of Dieselpunk.

Welcome aboard, Jared!  Come on in and help make DP your own.  You'll find some nice Caravan Palace and other electro-swing goodness in the videos here, IIRC, along witth plenty of other great Dieselpunk bands and classic Diesel age music (here's where I pimp "Cap'n's Cabaret").  And keep reading Saturday Air Mail (S.A.M.) and you'll soon know more about Diese age aircraft than you thought possible.

This place is like a treasure trove! I'm currently buffering the 1916 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Thanks! I'll definitely keep up on the Saturday Air Mail.

Great to have you with us, Jared. I love Caravan Palace too!

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