No doubt, you’ve been hearing it a lot lately. The talk about how the value of SXSW Interactive laid less in
the sessions but in the face-to-face contact with people. The near euphoria that the social media evangelists and techno-geeks experienced last week was palpable. There was a headiness of uniting with your clan, of hanging with people who “get” you and are interested in the same things as you. Tris Hussey from B5Media summed it up best when he called SXSW “geek spring break.”
And of course, you can’t have a spring break without parties, and SXSW Interactive was full of them, each with an open bar and vying to be the coolest and most memorable of the week. It became the way in which lesser-known names like Frog Design could even the playing field with icons like Google and Facebook.
An informal survey revealed the favorites:
Conversation Starters: Shel Israel, Jeremiah Owyang, Robert Scoble and other social media rock stars were on hand for accessible conversation. What appealed to most people I spoke with was that it was a quieter event with elbow room. It was a great way to start the evening and meet new people without having to scream over thumping beats. Co-sponsored by Federated Media, Dell, Bulldog Solutions, The Conversation Group and Social Media Club Austin at Iron Cactus.
I Heart Cavemen: Six Lounge was the place to go after Conversation Starters and featured Marty the Caveman from Geico cruising the hottest women in tech for the launch of iheartcavemen.com. He even scooped women out of the line for the Facebook party to bring to his for his own.
The Official Rock Band Party: Rock Band, the next step in karaoke, was prevalent throughout SXSW, making appearances on the exhibit floor and in at several parties. But clearly one of the favorites was Tuesday night at Six Lounge, co-presented by washingtonvc and MTV/Harmonix, and was packed with social media types looking like rock stars and celebs including Mark Cuban.
16 Bit: The line for this party at the Scoot Inn was so long, people were jumping the fence to sneak in and it spawned a flash-mob wine party for those not wanting to wait. Featuring 999 Eyes, an authentic oddities freak show, this party had a retro-80’s soundtrack and a no-frills honky-tonk vibe.
Salt Lick BBQ: When the buses didn’t show up, HP sent Robert Scoble and everyone else in taxis to Driftwood for some of the finest BBQ in Texas.
Karaoke Apocalypse: Part of BarCamp Austin, karaoke singers were backed by a live band. Highlights were Chris Brogan’s “Enter Sandman”, an appearance by the Unicorn and Laura Fitton (@pistachio) rocking “Heartbreaker” and finishing with a stage dive.
With so many parties, it was not unusual to crawl through three or four in an evening. Someone at FreshBooks clearly thought ahead and distributed hangover kits to revelers. One groggy partier commented over morning coffee that
getting to the 10 a.m. sessions at SXSW reminded her of trying to get to an 8 a.m. class in college. Spring break for geeks, indeed!
If you were at SXSW Interactive this year, what was your favorite party?