Austin got a taste of old Vegas glamour and Palm Springs mid-century chic at The TechSet’s “Rat Pack”-themed party during South by Southwest 2009. Hosted at the classic Belmont Lounge on March 13th, the stylish soirée conjured up the heyday of Frank Sinatra and the famed 1960s entertainer circle. Over 1,000 attendees time-traveled back to an era of cocktails, jazz, and effortlessly cool socializing.
The event was masterminded by tech influencer and style maven Anil Dash along with Stephanie Agresta from Windows Mobile. Dash transformed the lounge into a retro desert oasis with playful nods to the carefree poolside aesthetic of Palm Springs. Guests felt whisked away to the legendary Sands Hotel and other glitzy locales that served as Rat Pack playgrounds.
Yet while surface appearances channeled vintage Vegas extravagance, the deeper aim was spotlighting today’s pioneering tech innovators and connectors. The exclusive guest list spanned entrepreneurs, bloggers, founders, investors and other industry trailblazers. Dash carefully curated a mix of compatible peers across the digital landscape to spark serendipitous conversations and forge new bonds. Attractive surroundings broke down barriers between strangers while lubricating natural networking.
By blending the old-world sophistication of Sinatra’s circle with the bleeding-edge visionaries driving today’s internet, Dash created the perfect backdrop for biosynthesis. Influential figures who might never cross paths under SXSW’s geek-centric environs found common ground in an environment subtly optimized for casual exchanges.
Attendees raved about the transportive atmosphere and relishing this unique collision of eras. Veteran tech blogger Robert Scoble called it “one of the best parties I’ve ever seen.” Others praised the attention to detail in the décor and entertainment that evoked the lounge intimacy of Vegas’s mid-century heyday.
But beyond surface-level nostalgia, many benefited from the thoughtful mingling of disciplines. Conversations seeded new partnerships while already-connected figures discovered unexpected commonalities they’d overlooked. By spotlighting where the old-world charm of the Rat Pack still captivates today’s digital elite, the party sparked new enthusiasm for innovating by blending between eras.