June 27th, 2009
Pembroke, Massachusetts

Event Stats:
Location: Lolita's House
Event Year: Fourth
Attendance: 35
Theme: "Steampunk Wonderland"
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
Event Photos:

Photo Credits:
Christa Newman Photography

The annual Cosplay Tea parties were created by cosplayers Lolita and SakiB, who wanted to host a themed cosplay social gathering outside of conventions. For the fourth annual Cosplay Tea, Lolita decided that the theme should be Steampunk, a popular fashion genre based upon Victorian-era science fiction. Several attendees, including the host herself, decided to recreate Steampunk versions of their Alice in Wonderland characters from the origina Cosplay Tea party in 2006. The idea caught on until almost everyone had selected a costume from the Lewis Carroll universe, creatively altered to fit into the Steampunk genre. Christa Newman once again volunteered to photograph the event, researching original Wonderland illustrations for inspiration.

Sketch and Shiva's Event Breakdown:
Months before the tea party’s theme was announced, Shiva had found the perfect fabric for a Cheshire Cat costume and had purchased it, wanting to remake the EGL version she had thrown together at the last minute for the 2006 tea party. When Lolita decided upon her Steampunk theme, Shiva decided to incorporate those elements into the design and use the party as an excuse to get it done. She also decided to make marble squares as her contribution to the party treats, which she felt fit with a Wonderland themed tea. Sketch wasn't particularly interested in creating a costume for the event, but wore some of his Steampunk-esque clothing items, including the vest ChibiRinoa had made him for his birthday, in a factsimlie of a Mad Hatter costume. Rather than participate mainly in front of the camera, Sketch packed his good camera to help Christa photograph the event.

The party was originally supposed to be held at Herring Run Park as it had been in the past, but the weather forecasts predicted severe thunderstorms and it was decided the event would be better held at Lolita’s house, providing an indoor option for the event should the storms occur. This also allowed the setup to be more elaborate, and Lolita took the opportunity to recreate the entire Mad Tea Party set. A long table was set out front, adorned with teacups and teapots of all shapes and sizes, cakes and treats stacked one on top of the other, and an oversize seat at the center of the table for Alice herself. Lolita's yard also allowed for a variety of backdrops for photos, including a wooded area, garden, and farm gate which were used for various setups.

Similar to the original tea party, characters covered almost the entire main cast of Alice in Wonderland, with Caitlin and Mark as a mischievous Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Courtney as an adorable White Rabbit. Jon and Ash served up drinks as the The Mad Hatter and The March Hare and were abetted by Gale as The Doormouse. Crazy Flower, ever one to tackle a complex outfit, was fantastic as the Queen of Hearts, and Iceman stood sentry as the Ace of Spades. Ellystar took on a very Victorian version of The Caterpillar, and several others wore appropriately Steampunk-esque outfits. Of course, Lolita portrayed the most curious Alice herself. Despite the dire weather predictions and several ominous booms in the distance, the sun held out for the entire afternoon. Games of badminton, croquet, and Red Light, Green Light (using red and green parasols as the lights) took place around the lawn as cosplayers chatted and snacked between photoshoots.

Unlike previous tea parties, however, in which the party was the main event with attendees occasionally being borrowed by photographers for individual shoots, this year the photography was the main event. With so many related characters and exciting backdrops, the majority of the guests were involved in various shoots, which took place all around the property. Christa was the main photographer, who set up various and complex shots with help from Lolita, who had her illustrated version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on hand for inspiration.

Sketch, Lauren, and ChibiRinoa also served as secondary photographers, setting up their own mini-shoots when Christa was preoccupied with another group. Everyone had plenty of fantastic ideas, and as a result, we re-created countless scenes from the classic story. Shiva had a blast harassing everyone as the mischievous Cheshire Cat: tripping Alice, hiding under the Queen of Hearts' skirts, and stealing chairs out from under guests. She also teamed up with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to play tricks on various characters, hiding under the table at the Mad Tea Party and stealing cake and other treats whenever possible.

The only downside to this focus on the photoshoots was that the party was not as social as it had been in the past, and was somewhat divided between those involved in the shoots and those who were not and just playing party games. Also, more people attended the event than in the past, many of whom were new to the group and the lack of social time made the new and old attendees hang out mostly among themselves rather than integrate and make new connections. As the evening approached, we changed out of our costumes to hang out inside, although so many people remained that instead of playing communal games as we did the previous year, the groups again kept to themselves.

On the whole, the event was a lot of fun, though for different reasons than it had been in the past. The costumes were better than ever before, and everyone brought serious dedication to portraying their characters both with the qualify of their cosplays and commitment to imaginative and fun shoots. However, despite having a successful photoshoot, it felt like something else was lost as a result which hopefully can be regained in the future.