“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.” – Almost Famous
The Wednesday before SXSW convened, 6th Street in downtown Austin was eerily quiet. It was the proverbial calm before the storm. The streets were nearly empty – void of the raucous behavior that normally inhabits this popular party corridor.
The only noise that seemed to be was what drifted from the nearby bars and clubs. The rhythmic bass of a rap song from one bar and the stomping and yee-hawing from ladies dressed in tank tops, ripped jean shorts and cowboy boots dancing on the bar at the Coyote Ugly.
A mere 48 hours later it would be a completely different scene. The streets would fill with the tech elite and the smell of smoke, cheap pizza and cold beer would linger in the air. Billed as a professional event, SXSW Interactive seemed more like the trailer of Spring Breakers but with Twitter counts.
The next five days would be filled with parties hosted by companies I had never heard of in the company of new and old friends. The alcohol flowed freely (figuratively and literally). This was not always the case with food, and if I had learned anything at my 29 years of age I knew this could be a bad combination.
At then end of the night when the parties began to wind down people would gather at the historic Driskill Hotel. Despite there being any number of bars open, we would all stand in line like chumps so that we could treat ourselves to poor service and overpriced cocktails.
As one evening concluded at the Driskill and my tired feet walked me through the streets of Austin, I couldn’t help but think that I was just a few years past my prime for SXSW. Now I had never heard of the bands playing, and they were young enough to be my children (well if I was one of those MTV teen moms).
There was also a time I would have loved to party hop and stay out to 4 a.m. Now I knew that trying to go out every night until the sun came up would only leave me with regret. My younger 22-year-old self would have laughed at me, but I was too tired to care.