February 28, 2012

Back in Black: Not Your Average Yoga Festival.

Meet Louis Black.

Twenty-five years ago he was part of a group of three undergraduate film students that got together for a heavy brainstorming session. From that session was born South By Southwest. They definitely had no idea that it would become what it is, and it is an incredibly amazing festival of music, film and interactive technology.

John Mayer was signed to his first record label in 2000 after a performance he gave at SXSW. In 2009 Foursquare was launched at the festival and named “best break-out app” of the year by Mashable. Also in 2009, the movie The Hurt Locker, which would go on to win the Academy Award for best picture in 2010, was premiered to SXSW attendees. Hell, the keynote speaker for the music portion of the festival this year is Bruce Springsteen. What I am trying to convey is that this conference is sort of a big deal.

According to Mr. Black, the festival’s annual success has little to do with him or his partners Roland Swenson and Nick Barbaro, or the 3,000 plus volunteer staff members. The community of Austin, TX holds the credit for SXSW’s uber success. Everywhere you turn, says Black, there are people who are fully engaged in life, and that’s what makes this event so special. It is so explosive and dynamic, it really is created by the individuals flowing through it.

“A community is defined by it’s arts. The more respect it shows to that community and the more vibrant that community is, the more dynamic the town is.” ~Louis Black

Let me tell you though, Louis is nothing if not energetic. In fact, his energy is infectious. He is so full of life, you can almost hear him breathing in and exhaling SXSW. It’s impossible not to be attracted to SXSW after hearing him talk about it.

It really is an expect the unexpected type of event which makes it hard to plan for.

Jessica Durivage: If you had to give advice to two SXSW virgins what would it be?

Louis Black: Drink lots of water. Any answer I gave you would be dishonest. You are going to start meeting people at the airport. You are going to come into town, check into your hotel room and decide to go to this cool restaurant or some great store that sells art. You’re going to meet someone who you know on your way there who will then introduce you to somebody who you don’t know and suddenly you’ll find yourself someplace else, talking about a series of ideas. You’ll attend a panel and afterwards you’ll end up going out to lunch with the panelists which may even be just pizza from some vendor on the street.

There’s no advice I can give you except go with the flow. It will be over before you know it and you will feel like you missed it. As much as you do, as much as you consume, as many people as you meet and as many ideas that you talk about, you’re going to feel to some extent that you missed it.

It’s literally like you are riding a white water rapid except this rapid is going over Niagra falls at 100 mph. I always feel like somehow it has flown right by me and yet I have done an extraordinary amount of things, I’ve met an extraordinary amount of people.

My finest times are often when I end up with one or two film makers that I like, standing somewhere talking at 1 am until 3 am. You’re not going to go to sleep after that you’re wired so you go find an all night restaurant and have coffee and keep going.”

Louis Black definitely added to the excitement and allure of what Jess and Diane can expect at SXSW. I think anybody who listens to the show will have a small part of them that is itching to check it out just based on what he said. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in this meeting of the minds, this epicenter of forward thinking and technological evolution?

You can picture in your head the different fabrics that make up this huge tapestry of sound and media, sewn together by the technology that allows it all to connect. After hearing him talk I no longer think of SXSW as a conference, but I think of it as this living, breathing entity of crazy intelligence, with a bad ass soundtrack.


Keeping with the theme of festivals, we also had Tommy Rosen, co-founder of Tadasana Festival on the show last Friday. Tadasana Festival is unique in that there are live music events going on while yoga is being taught, in the same tent. There is no line between yoga and music, and the music that is being shared is performed by artists from all over the world. There has literally never been a festival like it before.

Tommy Rosen: “I’ve been in front of live music for most of my adult life, and it’s powerful for me. It’s where some of my biggest transformations have taken place. Some of my greatest moments of joy have been in front of live music, and I can say the same for my practice of yoga, and also for teaching. Those have been among the greatest joys in my life.

I am a yoga teacher who believes that yoga holds the keys to the kingdom. Which for some strange reason are necessary at this time in human evolution on a mass scale. Sometimes it’s such a simple idea that it’s overlooked. The solution to our problems can’t be that simple, right?

If you learn how to breathe and connect with your breath you can learn to control your inner environment, your emotions, and certainly your reactions to life. When your reactions to life improve, usually you’re able to project a feeling of harmony or a feeling of connectedness out to those people around you. People around you are affected by your projection.

In some small way, like a ripple, that energy of positivity carries out into the world. I’m somebody who believes in magic and possibility and I know it all begins with a breath. Yoga seems to be an amazing antidote to the incredible challenges we have as a race, all of us, at this time.”

To listen to the entire show, please click here.

Editor: Jennifer Cusano

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