SXSW is growing into a tradition for Substantial. This year we sent our largest crew yet, sticking around for both the Interactive and Music portions of the conference. Over this and the next post we'll be recapping our experiences. There were plenty of highlights and we're still recovering.

Our Interactive started as soon as we landed in Austin. We wanted to start SXSW our way so we teamed up with our friends at DreamHost for a kickoff party. Soundtracked by our new friends, DJ duo/PR agency Learning Secrets, we started our SXSW with a room full of wonderful guests, a healthy serving of disco, and with plenty of drinks to go around. If you haven't yet seen the pictures, you can see those here. With a relaxed atmosphere and no shortage of interesting people to talk to, the party set the tone for the entire conference.

A lot of people attend SXSW and spend their days working through an itinerary of panels and speakers. That wasn't quite our plan this year. While we hit a few panels between us, we spent far more time avoiding the actual conference in favor of the various gatherings going on in and around downtown Austin. There were just too many people to meet and too much free food and drink to be had to be cooped up in the Austin Convention Center.

So what'd we do instead? We hit up the Boxee BBQ, which featured a stupid human tricks competition (won easily by the guy that long-jumped over a table). We spent plenty of time in the Macallan Lounge, letting that be our transition from a day of heavy networking to a night of...more networking. We ate breakfast tacos at Austin favorite Mi Madre's. We ate fish tacos courtesy of the Miami Tourism Board. Not sure if we're more likely to visit because of it but the tacos were tasty (if slow to arrive).

As nights rolled around it was time to head out for a more laidback time. While nowhere near as crazy as Music, Interactive features no shortage of parties every night. Microsoft threw one of the best parties of all of Interactive as they launched IE9 with amazing visuals, an amazing space, and a generous open bar. Outside of the parties, there were still plenty of things to do, like ride the ecomagination carousel, having private parties in hotel suites, or sneaking up to said hotel's rooftop hot tub in the wee hours. There was fun to be had and we had it.

We might have even had too much of it. By the last day of Interactive the idea of heading out for another day of schmoozing and boozing was less appealing than that of a nice quiet day at home. So we threw a BBQ. We'd met plenty of people over the week and it was a great opportunity to drink beers, eat hot dogs, and hang out without the chaos of everything downtown.

And with that Interactive was done. It was sad to see many of our friends go but we were happy to turn our attention to Music. More details on that in the next post. Thanks to everyone that helped make the first half of our SXSW a wonderful time. Looking forward to doing it all over again at other conferences this year. Internet Week New York, perhaps?