Writing this blog post because I know I'm going to get this question often now that I've been to one.
Basically because of a happy accident of a number of Twitch partners skipping PAX South because it's in it's first year, a situation which will probably never happen again as PAX South gets bigger, Twitch decided to make it's normally partner-only PAX party into a "mixer" in which they decided to let Twitch fans with a PAX South badge in until the place filled to capacity.
I was one of the lucky few fans who got in line early enough to get in. In so doing, I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to see first-hand what most people only get to see on their Twitter and Instagram feeds.
Just to set the stage: The venue for this mixer was Pat O'Briens, the San Antonio branch of the famed New Orleans bar known for it's signature drink, "The Hurricane." On the lower level, there was the regular bar, and 2 separate rooms, one with dueling pianos and another with a rock band. The upper floor, which is where most of the action occurred, contained a dance room with a DJ, a Game room that had the "open" bar for people with wristbands, Karaoke, beer pong and pool tables, and a "media" room with the photo area and a lot of tables in the back. There was also a VIP Lounge on the upper level which was partners only.
The lower level was fairly dead when I arrived, so I headed upstairs. Briefly saw Angry Joe going down the other way and that was when it kinda hit me where I was, that I had basically crossed the divide between viewer and broadcaster, and I was in a completely different world now.
Before I go on, you've probably heard stories about parties in other entertainment media like music or movies, stuff about people doing lines of coke of a stripper's midsection or people having wild sex in a bar booth or on the dance floor. This wasn't that type of party. Everyone kept their clothes on and the hardest drug there was maybe marijuana (which neither Twitch nor Pat O'Briens provided, more than likely someone managed to sneak it in), and I say maybe because someone after the fact mentioned it, so take that with a grain of salt.
So if you're expecting this post to be filled with Studio 54 type stories, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
Anyway, so anyway, I was completely nervous walking into the party, as I am in any large crowd situation, so I checked out the downstairs rooms, got myself a drink, then went upstairs.
At the top of the stairs, I saw SuushiSam, went over to her, and introduced myself. She gave me a big hug and we talked for a bit. Sam is one of the kindest and welcoming people on earth. She was the first streamer to really give me advice and pointers on streaming stuff, so I'm glad I was able to say hi to her early on. It really put me at ease.
Anyway, I settled into the Karaoke room, where I ran into Ms_Vixen and Soma from Twitch, whom I had met the previous night while bar-hopping and basically caught up with them.
Saw Scarletr0se, said hi to her, she said hi back, but she was on her way to the bar, so I didn't hold her up for too long. I'd hung out with her earlier today for a Bioware signing, so I didn't want to bother her too much at the party.
Later I ran into IAmSp00n, who was surprisingly cool to me. We talked for a bit about stuff. He introduced me ForcefulFalcon, whom he was with for most of the evening. Katie's a sweetheart.
A bit later, I was talking in a group that included GoldGloveTV, who seems to be one of the few people in the Twitch community who is as big a sports fan as I am... unfortunately, he's a Seahawks fan. Still he was cool to hang out with.
I met MKTheWorst in the media room, then talked to Renaynay, Max, and their crew for a bit before heading out. (Yes, Renaynay did get 2 hetero guys to kiss again. That's pretty much a running gag at these parties.)
I wanted to get in on the Karaoke, but unfortunately the DJ didn't have the 3 songs I wanted to sing. Oh well.
In all honesty, if I had to sum up my Twitch party experience, it would be "Typical night at a college bar combined with a class reunion."
Given that the average age of twitch partners are in the early to mid 20's it's really no surprise that most of the activity going on is what you'd find at a typical college bar in any given weekend. Drinking, dancing, games that involve drinking, conversing, and basically having a good time. In that sense Twitch broadcasters aren't that much different than the rest of us.
However, it also has the vibe of a class reunion to it. Outside of a cluster centered around San Francisco, most Twitch partners don't get to see each other much because they're scattered all across the country. So conventions and parties like this are the only chance these folks get to see each other and they try to cram as much interaction with each other as they can into the party, because the next time may not be for a while.
It's in that sense that while I was glad to be there and glad to meet everyone, I did feel personally like I was intruding on the partners' space and time and maybe I wasn't as maybe social as I should have been as a result. However, everyone did their best to make me feel welcome, and I had fun, and if I'm lucky enough to do this again, maybe I will be more intentional about conversing with people.