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Friday, February 13, 2009

Last Night: Twestival SF at the Paradise Lounge

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 9:17 AM

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Twestival SF
Paradise Lounge
Thursday, January 12 2009
Photos by Scott Siegel

Better than: Going to a boring old party where you have to wear a nametag of your actual name.

For an event dedicated to us compulsive microbloggers, Twestivalsf proved surprisingly swank - and surprisingly low tech. Held at the Paradise Lounge, a sleek nightclub nonetheless positioned on one of SoMa's less polished corners, the Twitter-themed event ran most of the evening. A $20 donation at the door bought partygoers free range of two floors, three bars, and a room with a working fireplace. That money, say Twestival organizers, went to Water, a charity which lends a hand to some of the 1.1 billion people in the world who don't have access to clean drinking water. Outside of the club, a bouncer guarded the roped-off entrance, begging the question: does he Twitter, too?

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Inside things got hectic. In order to grab their name badges - which of course sported only Twitter names - attendees had to push through the first-floor crowd to the back of the room, where a volunteer at an overrun booth also handed out Twestival totes, complete with Twestival t-shirts, programs, and stickers. A number of live performers were supposed to take the stage throughout the night, but no one working seemed to know the schedule. On one side of the room a silent auction was underway. Up for grabs: free Virgin America tickets, Marriott stays, and fine wine. If only anyone knew to go over and bid. Still, it's hard to get frustrated with Twestivalsf when you remember it's staffed not by Twitter itself, but entirely by well-intentioned Twitter fans.

Throughout the night, one spot remained empty: the dance floor. Instead of grooving with the DJ, most attendees huddled into the better-lit and quieter patches of the club, attempting to socialize over the music. In the background performer "Glitter Girl" twirled around with lights on stage, leaving trails of blue glow behind her. She stepped down from the platform just as she'd stepped up: unannounced and completely without applause. Maybe the crowd was too busy trying to track down their Twitter friends. A number of fellow partygoers said they were having a good time, but they were disappointed it wasn't easier to find the buddies they'd met online. "OMG, you're @ThatGirl? I love your Tweets!"

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Bizarrely enough, Twestivalsf was marked lacking in people Twittering - even if searching for #twestivalsf the next morning has turned up lots of proclamations of "Last night rocked!" Twinkle, a Twitter program that allows you to spot nearby users, showed only one other soul in the area writing about the event. And one of the few people spotted texting away on a smart phone at the event said, when asked if he was updating his feed: "No, I don't even use Twitter. I'm surprised no one here has tried to get me to convert." A woman with a tray of free mini cupcakes circled the club as another texter got questioend. Yes, he was Twittering, he said, but he felt kind of bad. After all, he was at a party.


Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I'm a Twitter user (@MyOwnVelouria) and a lover of swag, but a crowded party girl I am not - fireplace or no fireplace.

Random Detail: Need a massage to ease all those aching, Twitter-related muscles? Inside the Twestivalsf goody bag was a coupon for a $79.00 "Twitter-sage" from the Massage & Wellness Center. Don't worry, you're not the only one who's confused.

By the Way: Twestivalsf was only one of 100+ Twestivals that took place around the world yesterday, all raising money for the same cause. Try to fit that much good will into 140 characters.

P.S. Follow SF Weekly on Twitter @SF_Weekly

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Bonnie Ruberg

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