Austin during SXSW is a busy town. Austin has roughly 30,000 hotel rooms, filled to capacity during SXSW—an additional 11,000 people chose to rent a place to stay in Austin on Airbnb during SXSW 2014. Amidst the chaos and commotion of SXSW this year, Austin visitors and locals alike found respite at our pop-up Airbnb Park in East Austin. Over the course of five days, Airbnb Park offered up games, refreshments, unexpected acts of hospitality, and special events to attendees.
We worked with special new hosts Snoop Dogg, Capital Cities, and Allen Stone to create unique Airbnb pop-up homes to feature at the Park. In collaboration with designer Emily Henderson, our musical hosts created three pop-up homes in their own unique design aesthetics.
Two weeks prior to opening the Park, we launched an Instagram contest, #AirbnbMusic, prompting people to create a special “welcome” that spoke to the distinct style of each artist. Our Instagram community snapped some amazing photos of their welcomes, and three creative winners received VIP trips to SXSW to meet their artist hosts in person and get the full Airbnb at SXSW experience.
Tuesday morning at 10 AM we opened up the Park with a complimentary coffee bar by our friends at SF-based Four Barrel Coffee. Attendees lined up at the bar to receive their morning caffeine before walking around to explore everything the Park had to offer.
Later in the afternoon Snoop Dogg himself showed up to give tours of his pop-up house, talk with Emily Henderson about the design process, and hang out with some of the winners from the #AirbnbMusic Instagram contest.
As a good host should, Snoop made sure there was something delicious for everyone to eat. With the help of Austin-based food truck, The Peached Tortilla, he dished up his favorite breakfast sandwiches, complete with an extra smear of grape jelly.
With everyone’s stomach’s full, Snoop Dogg presented Respect The West Producer Showcase, where The West Coast’s hottest producers performed never-heard-before beats to an intimate crowd, including Dam-Funk, Daz Dillinger, Scoop Deville, and DJ Babu (Dilated Peoples). Bow Wow even stopped by the Park to show his support for Snoop and Respect the West.
After a day packed with games, food, drinks and music, we invited everyone back to enjoy complimentary cocktails poured by our Utah-based friends from Church and State. With a starlit sky, hemp popsicles by Good Pops, live beats by DJ Babu, and vintage arcade games, we made sure the Park was buzzing.
Wednesday morning we kicked off the day with more complimentary Four Barrel coffee and let people partake in some quality park time, complete with blankets, craft workshops, and games.
As the morning drew into the afternoon, we set up our bar and turned the Park into a Hangover Haven. The delicious combination of Tito’s Vodka and McClure’s Bloody Mary mix created for the perfect drink companion to carry around the Park while perusing our backyard bazaar. Parkgoers shopped for treasures from the Renegade Craft Fair’s finest Austin crafters and artisans, including Son of a Sailor and The Plaid Pigeon.
As Austin’s inclimate weather would have it, the temperature dropped significantly as the sun set. However, no one seemed too concerned, since we had plenty of Mexican blankets, psychedelic sounds by The Black Lips’ Jared Swilley, mystical hors d’oeuvres, and complimentary cocktails to go around. Six at a time, people would enter Snoop Dogg’s pop-up house to watch a world-renowned magical performance by the amazing Helder Guimaraes.
By Thursday, it started to feel like we had our morning routine down pat. Four Barrel poured hot coffee for those seeking a caffeine-fix and Austin-based Yoga Yoga taught a “Rock Your Shakti” workshop for those looking to get loose on the lawn.
As many festival-goers started to ease into the afternoon (after late nights of partying), our bartenders readied their vodka bottes to serve up some hair of the dog. For the next few hours, people poured into the Park for their daily Bloody Mary or, for those looking for something less intense, their daily Lala’s lemonade. With liquid courage fueling their creative spirits, some parkgoers played their hearts out during a harmonica workshop, while others got competitive during “friendly” games of outdoor Jenga.
After a relaxing afternoon, the Park’s vibe changed drastically when Austin’s original renegade circus brass band, Minor Mishap Marching Band arrived. Clad in black and yellow clothing, Minor Mishap had Parkgoers hootin’, hollerin’, and harmonica-in’ as they lead everyone in a festive rumpus throughout the Park.
With everyone on a musical high from the harmonica workshop and Minor Mishaps’ exuberant Park parade, we figured there was no better way to wrap up the night than with some live band karaoke followed by beats by DJ Big Reeks. We also passed out banh mi sliders by The Peached Tortilla to accompany our bar’s tasty beverages.
Despite the Friday morning gloom, the Park was full of action. In addition to our daily Four Barrel coffee bar and Yoga Yoga mantra workshop, we had an all-day interactive art installation by Emotional Arcade. With a little help from modern technologies, the Emotional Arcade let Parkgoers engage in a variety of emotional competitions by simply (or rather not so simply) channeling their most intimate emotions.
Around noon, some of the Park’s very own hosts, Capital Cities, came by to give tours of their pop-up house, chat with Emily Henderson, and hang out with winners from the #AirbnbMusic Instagram contest. When they were done juggling and attempting strange “yoga” poses, Capital Cities decided to go head to head in the emotional balloon popping competition. Both proved to be exceptional at channeling their emotions, since they both popped their balloons.
After using an exceptional amount of brain power to exert emotional mind control our Park attendees were exhausted, so we broke out our Bloody Mary bar and put some pep back into everyone’s step. With newfound energy, everyone was excited to gussy up for the night with our afternoon pop-up salon offering a complimentary braid bar, nail art, haircuts, shaves, and hand massages.
We figured there was no better way for everyone to enjoy a beautiful night in the park than to lounge under the stars, wrapped in serapes. We set up a projector, prepped a cocktail bar, dished up glazed donut flavored popsicles, and screened David Bowie’s movie Labyrinth. The setting was picturesque, and the perfect segway into an interactive Labyrinth themed dance party by CHERYL, with resident DJ Nick. CHERYL, a four-member, Brooklyn-based, semi-anonymous artist collective, led a magical dance party that took no prisoners. Before everyone’s eyes, the park transformed into an astro-turf dance floor covered with people, who were subsequently covered in glitter.
Saturday morning, with our astro-turf grass glistening from a mixture of rain drops and stubborn, left-over glitter, we opened up the Park for our last day of fun and games. With enough umbrellas to go around, parkgoers were able to protect their belongings (and pets) from the rain while they engaged in some friendly games of catch. Per usual, Four Barrel poured hot cups of coffee to people in desperate need and Yoga Yoga taught a Detox Your Socks (and maybe some glitter) Off workshop to those looking to get limber. By afternoon, once we’d distributed our afternoon Bloody Marys, parkgoers were eager to learn the skill of bolo-tie making in a workshop led by local leather artisan, Canoe.
As the sun started to set on our last day at SXSW, the park was buzzing with people anxious for the nights’ special campfire concert by host, Allen Stone. Wearing a camo-print jacket and worn-in jeans, Allen showed up to share his pop-up house, play foosball on the deck, and hang out with the winners from the #AirbnbMusic Instagram contest. After a little bit of relaxing, Allen broke out his guitar and started to play. Under a beautiful cobalt blue sky, he shared both his songs and his soul with our intimate crowd gathered around the campfire. Everyone was happy, the park’s vibe was contagious.
Uplifted and inspired by Allen’s beautiful performance, everyone was ready to cut loose and vibe out to the sounds of DJ Jonathan Tobin (NYC). With all the necessary ingredients to end of an amazing week-an open bar, the warmth of the of the campfire, and a glittery grass dance floor—the Park did not disappoint.
Austin, you kept it real. Thanks for hosting our pop-up park hospitality. You might get rid of our leftover glitter, but you won’t get rid of us. Until next year…