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the parties
  As anyone who has attended one knows, conferences are not about the trade show, the tutorials, or the panel presentations. Conferences are all about the adjunct parties, and SxSW Interactive was no exception. A brief scorecard of the festivities:

Opening Night Party at GSD&M
There was one word everyone used to rate this affair. "Sucked." Cramming hundreds of people into an awkwardly laid out lobby is not logistically wise. Proved that they're as clueless about party planning as they are about new media. Speaking of which, did you hear they're selling themselves as an interactive ad agency? Ha! D-
(Free Beer means they didn't get an F).

Full Contact Food Fete
The party highlight of the conference. Tasty-ass gumbo made by Pableaux Johnson, lotsa beer, and great, great people. Props to Heather Anne Halpert for the use of her lovely abode, and Tim Gasperak for bringing together a great group. Proves that the best conference parties are ones not thrown by companies. (But you knew that anyway.) A+

Frog Design's Party
A brash, loud affair, it was tons better than GSD&M's flaccid attempt the night before. Of note were the bands, one featuring guys in lederhosen, the other had a washboard-clad pixie woman who looked around 12 years old. The party didn't ever truly click, but it was pretty fun. Oh, and bonus points for the belly dancer. C+

Wholefoods.com Post-Home Page Party
This mellow affair at the High Life cafe was the first to offer free wine (which was quite tasty). Conversation flowed well in this relaxed environment, a welcome change from the din of the nights before. B

FringeWare's Party
Same night as Wholefood.com's. Lacked any real "zing," though the music (guitarist, bassist, and turntablist) grooved well. The drive to the party, wherein 11 people crammed into the
Chevy Blazer, was the highlight. C

Harmonix' Closing Night Party
Set at Twist, a club reminiscent of late-80's Los Angeles nightlife, the party was a serviceable, if uninspired, milieu for chatting and drinking. Then the band started to play. We all fled to save our ears from the wailing atonal din. C-

Bruce Sterling's House Party
Yeah. I got to go to a party at
Bruce Sterling's house. It was okay. I think by this point (the last party on the last night of the interactive conference) people were tired. Some good chat. Some good beer. And a cute 2 year old girl attempting headstands on the stairs. C