The Best Party At SXSW Can Be Found On Four Wheels. It's Totally Free And Never Ends.

Welcome to the world of 'transportainment.'

South by Southwest is coming to Austin, Texas March 13, and you know what that means...


Partying. Lots and lots of partying.

Sure, there will be incredible films, brilliant speakers, awesome bands, and tons of jaw-dropping tech stuff. But some great times are also to be had after dark. And you'll find one of the coolest parties at SXSW in the unlikeliest of places: inside an RV. We're talking about the monumentally hip RVIP Lounge Karaoke and Cabaret. 

What is the RVIP Lounge Karaoke and Cabaret?

It's a traveling RV equipped with a karaoke rig, open bar, and tiki decor — kind of like a food truck but way better. Founded by Los Angeles couple Kestrin Pantera and Jonathan Grubb, the party vehicle rolls up to festivals and offers passersby the chance to come on in, sing a song, have a drink, and dance the night away. It's open all night and it's completely free. Welcome to the world of "transportainment."

What's the story behind RVIP?

"We originally were going to SXSW to throw a party for my husband's Internet startup in 2008, but we couldn't afford a hotel, venue, and alcohol," Pantera says. So the couple decided to create a cheaper alternative by putting their funds into an RV that would provide transportation, a cool venue, and accommodations all at once.  

After taking the RVIP out for a trial run in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, the couple was ready to host Grubb's company party at SXSW. The event was a smashing success. Being a mobile venue meant the party would come to them, so they didn't have to wait to gain admission anywhere. Even people waiting in line for events could dance with them on the curbside. 

"It started out as a corporate party, but the party was cooler than the company, so we ditched the company and kept the party," Pantera says.

Since its first run in 2008, RVIP — which now functions solely as a mobile party space — has been to SXSW every year. It's also seen its fair share of other festivals and LA events. Pantera and her husband have teamed up with software engineers and artists who contribute to the RV in various way, like making art videos to accompany the music, programming lyrics from new indie tracks into their custom karaoke machine, and decking out the vehicle with an LED light show. 

But behind the party is a rather beautiful philosophy.

And the best part bout RVIP is that it's free for everyone. "The thing that's really meaningful for us is that we want everything to be free for people that show up all the time," Pantera says. "We don't want to charge because it kind of takes away the magic of the spontaneous experience."

So if you're heading to SXSW, keep your eye out for the RVIP (it's painted bright pink this year) and hop on in for a great time and some awesome tunes. But keep in mind this one cardinal rule:

If you're lucky, you'll get to see Pantera singing one of her favorite karaoke tunes, Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." 

To learn more about RVIP visit its Facebook or Twitter page. 

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