Yes, that’s right, I spent an entire 42 hours at South by Southwest Interactive 2009. For this experience I travelled over 10,000 miles, took 4 aircraft, spent 2 hours in holding patterns, and ended up with one very tired body… Was it worth it? Without question, absolutely.
I set out from my house at zombie o’clock on Friday for an 8:40 AM Continental flight to Houston, then transferred to a local aircraft to Austin where I was whisked off to the Omni Downtown where I stayed in an executive room on the 13th floor. 42 Hours later I did exactly the same, in reverse.
What happened in these intermediary hours is full of the stuff dreams are made of. The kind of dreams dreamt by geeks who have only ever heard of the spectacle that is SxSWi. I partied almost continously for these hours pausing only for a few hours of respite, a shower, and to change outfits… something that took place at least 6 times whilst I was there. Yes, I took with that many outfits. A girl has to impress, you know!
On my first night, whilst I sought the other Englanders, I met some awesome people from Portland, who introduced me to some locals at College in Austin, who took for for late night drinks and an all night breakfast in a ‘68 Buick with stuck open windows. In there somewhere were about 6 parties all around town, and conversational topics as diverse as modelling student chances of success with fluid dynamics, and what type of porn people were into.
I ended the night in my bed at the Omni exhausted from 14 hours of travel and some 22 hours awake. The bed in the Omni was incredibly comfortable, and the shower the next morning was exquisit, especially being able to shower whilst looking out through floor to ceiling windows over the city, quite an experience.
My first and last only full day began with rushing out of bed and up to the executive lounge in order to partake in the free (read already paid for) breakfast. Just a short while later I found my way to the bloggers lounge which became my base of operation for the remaining 28 hours. Just hanging out there I met some really fantastic people working on all sorts of interesting things. I didn’t manage to make it to any sessions, though I have the impression that I didn’t miss out all that much. Towards the end of the day plans were hatched for that evening, and I set of to shower and change (again).
I can’t honestly tell you much about that second night in Austin. I remember being quite sober for a while and running about town with Tara Hunt and Jen Myonruk looking for the hippest party which was eventually to be found at which is normally a gay leather bar, but for SxSW is turned into a Cog’aoke (competition based karaoke) Venue. Having been introduced to Tony B. Goode (who, I’m told, went on to win) the free alcohol became too much and somewhere between bumping into fellow Englanders like Norm and Nik F and making my way to the stage to cheer on Tony it all became too much and the memories end.
I have a vague recollection of later on events at The Driskoll where an early on impromptu gathering of friends for drinks by Erica O’Grady turned into a full on party. The one image from this event that is burned into my mind is Tod wearing what I think was a wedding dress…
My final day at SxSW was shrouded by the foggy after effects of phenomenal quantities of alcohol, and I spent most of my time sitting in the bloggers lounge eating far too much popcorn and feeling sorry for myself. After a day af very gentle conversation I eventually made my way back the Omni for the last time, to collect my baggage and head to Austin’s Airport for the final leg of my 42 hour bender at SxSW.
Will I be back again next year? You bet I will, and for much longer that 42 hours.