A Geek’s Guide to Navigating Alternative Culture

“Nice dirigible. Wanna make out?”
Public Domain Image, Wikimedia

The fun and the funky. Renaissance faires, costume events, LARPs — immersion and escapism. As a geek and gamer, I’m all about these types of things, but as in any hobby, everyone has his or her own preferences. While I enjoy spending time with friends who participate in alternative culture and alternative lifestyles, that doesn’t always mean I want to join in each and every activity.

Yesterday, a friend said that he really liked steampunk, but that the ‘goth crowd’ had sort of merged into it. As this particular genre grows, there’s also a community need or desire to have 21+ events and underage events. While some take this as a means of being exclusive, I think that it’s responsible. As someone who has managed events before, I wouldn’t want to mix underage participants with a crowd that is drinking, nor would I want to alienate a crowd that wishes to enjoy beverages socially.

But there’s another aspect to geek subculture, including steampunk and not limited to it: the point of being uncomfortable. Formal and casual events alike focus on the aesthetic — think about costuming at LARPs or the renaissance faire. But on top of mingling and being checked out for your clothing, there’s the alternative culture layer.

When my husband and I went to an event a few months ago, we noticed that many couples seemed to be attached at the hip. While we’re not opposed to public displays of affection, we’re not like that. However, by the end of the night, we both received multiple ‘offers’ and ‘implications’ that apparently could have been avoided had we been making out with each other the whole time.

It was something I was altogether unprepared for, because this did not happen at a Pennsic event! While I have friends who are LGBT, swingers, etc., it’s not really an issue and they know I don’t have a desire to become involved in that aspect of their lives. It’s cool. It’s not weird. But being randomly approached…that can be weird if you’re not interested — though it is flattering, of course.

Like with most social situations, I just needed to learn to communicate. I’m on a diet and someone offers me cake; I can say “no thank you.” The same applies to other sorts of offers, though you need to be more assertive with some individuals.

That said, I’ve also learned that if I feel uncomfortable somewhere, it’s me, not the event. In that case, I stay home and hope I can find a different place to wear that new costume — one more suited to my own preferences. Either way, it’s great to see so many events that appeal to various groups and preferences. It’s fun to be funky together — even if I don’t want to get freaky!

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About Tara M. Clapper 288 Articles
Tara is a lifelong geek and the founder and publisher of The Geek Initiative. Her interests were forged in an early appreciation for "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Jurassic Park," and many historical fiction and fantasy novels. Tara is a game designer, LARPer, and frequent convention attendee. The author of over 1,000 individual blogs, her content has been featured on HelloGiggles, nordiclarp.org, LARPing.org, and The Billfold. She holds a B.A. in English from McDaniel College and has attended many events as press (including New York Comic Con). Tara has a professional background in marketing and publishing. She lives in the Philadelphia area. A Marvel fan, her favorite superhero is undoubtedly Thor. View her portfolio at: tmc.pressfolios.com.

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