Denny Cherry here, your PASS party planner. PASS is getting closer and closer, just 12 weeks away or so. You’ve probably got the basics figured out like are you going, which hotel will you be at, getting your flights setup and figuring out if you are joining the pre-PASS fun at SQL Saturday 92 in Oregon the week before.
However there is so much more to the SQL PASS experience than just going to sessions at the conference. While the official conference ends at 5 or so, that is just the beginning of the day for the seasoned conference attendee. You should be spending about 5-10 minutes in your hotel room between the time that the sessions end and when you go to sleep (which is hopefully around 2-3 in the morning); any more than this and you are doing something wrong (in my opinion). The reason that I cap this at about 10 minutes is that there are lots of people to see and talk to and plenty of parties to attend.
Every year I hear from people that they didn’t know what to do after hours, or where to meet up with people, so I’ve taken it upon myself to fix this. If you are spending time in your hotel room doing anything besides sleeping or fixing some emergency production problem (god knows that these can happen); stop it.
Some nights there are official parties like the Welcome reception on Tuesday night, the exhibitor reception on Wednesday night, and the Microsoft Customer Appreciation Party (which I would assume will be Thursday).
There will also be some unofficial things to look forward to. For those who are shutter bugs, there’s the photo walk usually on Monday headed up by Pat Wright (blog | @sqlasylum) which is a great time and a great way to meet some new people. The photo walk started a few years ago with just a couple of people and has turned into a pretty large group that goes walking around town just taking pictures and chatting. You sure don’t need to be a great photographer to go. I’ve been any most of pictures are awful (check out my Facebook photo page (soul sucking registration required) for reference material). Sadly I didn’t get to go last year as I was busy presenting a pre-con. This yeah hopefully I’ll be able to attend with my point and shoot all ready to go (this will be an upgrade for me, two years ago I just used my cell phone camera).
The big party event of the week is the most unofficial party of the week. That is the Karaoke party at Bush Garden (no, not Bush Gardens the theme park Bush Garden the Karaoke bar in the International District). SQL Karaoke will be Wednesday night starting at 9:30pm on Wednesday night until 2am, unless the fire marshal shuts us down early, which hasn’t happened, yet. We start at 9:30pm because that’s when the DJ shows up. The bar opens before that so feel free to show up and grab a table. Tables are hard to find as the place is a little small, so if you plan on sitting get there early. For those that don’t like to sing don’t worry, singing isn’t required to attend SQL Karaoke, just the desire to have a good time and watch some people make fools of themselves. There have been a few videos which have been taken and posted online over the years. If you want to get a general idea of the insanity check them out here, here, here, here, here (this is our favorite DJ singing our favorite song), and here (do you get the idea that we really like SQL Karaoke?). If you don’t come to check out the signing, at least come to check out the couch in the men’s rooms (I’m not kidding).
When all else fails there’s always a default place to go at PASS to find some SQL people to hang out with. That is Tap House Grill on the corner of 6th and Pike just across from the Sheraton hotel (about 1/4 block down 6th). The Tap House is always popular with the SQL folks thanks to its location less than 2 blocks from the Seattle Convention Center, and less than a block from the Sheraton where a good portion of the PASS attendees will be staying (including myself).
I can’t tell you how much I recommend that you check out these after events and the other ones which will be getting put together as we get closer to the PASS summit. There are also a number of private parties which happen on various nights at PASS, some hosted by Microsoft, some by venders like Quest, Red Gate, SQL Sentry, etc. which you’ll need an invite to attend. All of the public events will be published up on the passsummitevents.info website (there isn’t much up there yet for the 2011 summit, so if you are planning something be sure to get it posted) so be sure to check there as we get closer to PASS to see what parties you can fit into your schedule. Joseph Guadagno (blog | @jguadagno) who setup the passsummitevents.info site for us was nice enough to put together a blog post on his site on how to use the site and how to setup events. There’s even an iPhone app for the site. I highly recommend hitting at least one or two of the after events and meet some people. Everyone is welcome, even the locals that can’t attend the summit can join in the after parties.
I’ll see you somewhere at the PASS summit. I’ll be the guy running around with a lamp shade on his head, and shot of Jäger in his hand.