AUSTIN, Texas--Despite having plenty of blogging work still to do on Friday night, I decided to check out some of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival's notorious after-hours scene. Man, it's enough to give anyone a headache long before the aftereffects of the free drinks set in the next morning.
Friday night promised to be the least party-heavy night of the week, with only one "official" party on the books: PR firm Porter Novelli's happy hour at the massive bar called Six Lounge. Probably because of the lack of other SXSWi parties, the line outside the door at Six soon stretched round the block and satellite soirees popped up at several other bars, like the zillion-beers-on-tap Ginger Man down the street. Nevertheless, the onslaught of Twitters and text messages saying that everyone should hit up a certain bar--or even more specifically, a certain floor of a certain bar--got really, really nuts. And if you left one bar for the next only to decide to go back, you had to hop back in line.
But the company was worth keeping. The most unexpected socializer of the night was arguably Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who said he wasn't in town to host a panel or make a high-profile appearance at SXSWi--he was just around to socialize and talk to people, which everyone seemed to think was pretty darn cool, and was also an effective strategy in convincing bloggers that it would be rude to ask him prying questions about Amazon.
Spotted at either Ginger Man or Six: uber-blogger Robert Scoble, Digg founder Kevin Rose (who told me in jest that his company doesn't have a buyer but is up for sale on eBay), WineLibrary.tv host Gary Vaynerchuk, PaidContent blogger Joseph Weisenthal, Gawker's Nick Douglas, AllFacebook's Nick O'Neill, Pownce co-founder Leah Culver, and a whole crew from social-networking blog Mashable, whose founder Pete Cashmore was passing out business cards and swag rather than dancing this time.
At least thus far, it appears that Twitter is the new Twitter. The microblogging service managed to hold up in the wake of Friday night's SXSWi activity, and was getting used nonstop across the board. But Saturday night's parties will be about an order of magnitude bigger, so we'll have to see if it manages to survive another evening out.
See more stories in CNET News.com's coverage of SXSWi (click here).