How the Tumblr party and Gary Vee got SXSW's its groove back

The other day, I wrote about how something seemed, well, gray at SXSW--like something was missing. It had been kind of--meh.

I felt like there were too many panels that just went through the motions, and the parties were just kind of crowed and rather uninspired.  Throw in some nippy, cloudy, rainy weather on top of that and what it all was amounting to wasn't a heck of a lot.

Then, something happened on Sunday. 

The sun broke out in the afternoon and it got warmer.  Almost like magic, the buzz started to return.  People got excited.  More people piled out into the surrounding streets, filling Austin with geek chatter.  I had a fantastic sushi dinner (yes, sushi...  we had all had more than enough ribs over the course of the weekend) with the Angelsoft folks--we could have featured our discussion as a panel in itself, talking about what makes content inspiring both online and in person.  Around nine last night, I wandered over to the Tumblr party at the Cedar St. Courtyard. 

The line was pretty long, but luckily, we spotted David Karp and he slipped us in the upper patio door.  Two minutes later, he was bringing food to his guests--quite a number of platefuls at a time.  Perhaps he's done the busboy thing before. 

Cedar St. Courtyard is a fantastic open venue with neighborhoody/block party feel.  The crowd was really fantastic.  Everyone was in a good mood because of the weather.  I met John Malone for the first time and we had a really great conversation.  Apparently, he's been lurking around my blog for a while!  I also caught up with Richard Johnson again after seeing him earlier in the day.  Peter Kafka was there, too, and we were joking around about how much easier it was to catch up with NYC people while we were in Austin--no calendars, no conflicts.

If you're ever in the middle of an otherwise dull conference, do yourself a favor--find the New Yorkers.

Around midnight, Gary Vee tweeted:

"Going to my hotel room to pick up 6 cases of wine and bring it to the Tumblr party let's make it a 1230am thing .. I'll tweet when Rdy"

I don't have to tell you how much of a party it became after that.

Between the venue, David and John's hospitality, and Gary Vee going the extra mile, this was the embodiment of what SXSW was supposed to be--inspiring people gathered together in an inspiring place for a blending of the professional and the social.  Even people who weren't at the conference were tweeting that it was obvious that the Tumblr party really rocked.  So thanks to all involved... Spending my night at Cedar St. really turned the whole event around for me.

Now if only everyone else had dance moves like Crystal Beasley, then we really would have had something.