‘Back to the future’ at museum fundraiser

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Luann Dunlap, left, Cindy Iacovetto, center, both with the Aztec Senior Community Center, and Anne Cottrell, board member at the center, attend the Durango Discovery Museum’s fundraiser Steampunk Stomp II.

The bottom line is that the steampunk craze is fascinating, and it was confirmed for me this year at Durango Discovery Museum’s Steampunk Stomp II.

The fundraiser, which was held March 16, featured creative costumes galore, some thumping good music, interesting entertainment, including fire dancers and a flash mob, and goodies galore.

Its reputation preceded it, as the more than 200 guests came not just from Durango, but Farmington, Aztec, Pagosa Springs, Cortez and even farther afield.

Steampunk was first described to me as how Victorians such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells would have viewed the future, and that’s certainly true. But it’s also a bit like pornography – there are many variations, but you definitely recognize it when you see it. (And that’s not an admission of a pornography habit but an understanding of the Supreme Court ruling!)

Folks came dressed in Victoriana with a twist, in leather and denim for a Wild West look, safari garb, early aviator and just techno all the way. Many a man wore a top hat, and the women refused to be left out of that sartorial splendor, with sightings of one gigantic and one tiny top hat on female heads in the crowd.

One woman visited Hobby Lobby in Farmington, which apparently has a watchmaking section, to buy all kinds of gears and levers she used to create jewelry. People dragged out family treasures such as brooches and pocket watches, raided local thrift stores for appliances and gizmos they could disassemble for parts and scavenged garages and storage sheds.

Many folks told me about new ideas they’re planning to break out next year, and I can hardly wait to see how it turns out.

Prizes were given for best costumes, but there were so many people there, I didn’t get a chance to check them out. Talk about a difficult judging job! Winners went home with prizes donated by Holly Laird.

There was a cool outfit everywhere you looked, and that would have been entertainment all by itself. But staff members and friends of the museum spent a couple of weeks practicing their number for the flash mob, which performed twice during the evening.

For those of you who have not caught on to the flash-mob movement, a group of people, usually contacted via smartphones and Facebook alerts, gathers, apparently spontaneously, after receiving a secret cue to dance. My colleague Karla Sluis, whose second career is Zumba instructor, created a “medley” and choreographed the number, which included a bridge of robot-like moves.

During the evening, guests could have their handwriting analyzed by Nancy German and their irises read by Sunshine Lofton. After Lofton peered into my green eyes, she said I pay great attention to detail, as my readers can attest. Nice to know that’s a biological imperative.

Other possibilities included such Victorian pastimes as tarot card reading, an absinthe bar, a hookah lounge, eyeball dissection (hey, it’s the Discovery Museum), and a jewelry-making demonstration.

Nanette Cresto and Katie Clancy were the dancers extraordinaire and looked like they were having a blast.

Strater Catering and Events once again provided a decadent menu, including sesame-ginger grilled beef satay with coconut-peanut sauce; Sunnyside bratwurst lollipops with Honeyville chokecherry honey; caprese skewers with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and balsamic reduction drizzle; bacon-wrapped shrimp with sun-dried tomato-basil dipping sauce; salami, fontina cheese and arugula crostini; and an elaborate display of fruit and domestic and imported cheeses.

The dessert station included bite-sized brownies with peanut butter mousse, chocolate-dipped strawberries and white chocolate-raspberry cake bites.

Ashley Hein, who’s in charge of event planning and fundraising, gets to put her mixology skills to use at every party as she creates new Tesla Tonics and Curie Coolers. For this event, the tonic was cucumber, basil and mint with vodka, and the cooler was the nonalcoholic version. Hein also developed the Montgomery Millsap, a ginger-cherry base that could be made with whiskey or vodka. The nonalcoholic version was dubbed the Virgin Monty. (Stan Crapo of Star Liquors provided the potent potables.)

Every time I watch fire dancers, I wonder at their ability to not set their hair on fire, but this time, the men were wearing top hats and the woman included a mini-bustle in her costume, so I marveled that they didn’t set their duds aflame. Wow. Kudos to the From the Ashes troupe.

All told, more than 200 people showed up for the festivities, helping the museum raise more than $5,000. The dance floor was full, and people ranging from their teens to their 70s were having fun and catching up.

Hein is a born party thrower, and she loves adding theatricality to her events. A large cadre of devoted volunteers helped pull off this extravaganza, but in fear of forgetting someone from the list, she asked me just to thank them all en masse.

This is the kind of party where I hate being on crutches, because there is so much to see and do, I tend to miss out on some really cool offerings. I was a little lame costume-wise this year – I threw on some pearls, because those were beloved by Victorians – but next year I’m going all out.

Many thanks to BP for serving as the sponsor of the event.

durango colorado

Nothing says March birthday so much as having the wind blow out your birthday candles for you for Rick Kniffin, Ben Roberts, Paul Wainwright, Chip White, Peter Rudolph, Vicki Armstrong, Sheila Casey, Sunny Pulliam, Sue Cowan, Katie Kloepfer, Bette Hart, Niki Moore, Martha Simpson, Christopher Van Dyck, Dave Pye, Kim Skinner, Billie Mae Vance, Jeremy Dugan, Barry Latham, Marty Sheppard, Jake Bourdon, Betty Loffer and Peter Strength.

durango colorado

Spring flowers are starting to peek up in warm spots for the anniversaries of Kermit and Karen Knudsen, Robert and Scattie McGrath, Terry and Sandy Hoel and Linda and Randal Jernigan.

durango colorado

Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

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