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Culture Trip Brought Three Nights of Film, Fun and Drag Queens to SXSW

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The UK-based travel company took over the historic Austin Motel for a three-day celebration of its United States debut. Guests lounged by the pool by day and experienced a film premiere, a local vendors’ market and drag bingo – hosted by stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race – by night.

Culture Trip stepped onto the scene at this year’s South by Southwest in a big way: We threw a three-day celebration at the historic Austin Motel!

From March 9 to 11, Culture Trip’s Soho in SoCo bash brought three Soho neighborhoods from around the world – those of New York, London and Hong Kong – to Austin’s South Congress Avenue. Culture Trip and partner Fake Love created a poolside oasis for people to retreat from the bustle of SXSW and lounge, eat and drink during the day. And at night, they held a film premiere, a local vendors’ market and a drag-bingo extravaganza hosted by the inimitable queens Bob the Drag Queen and Manila Luzon. We even had a red double-decker bus running all weekend to take riders from the Austin Motel straight to the downtown convention center and back again.

Steven Visneau
Steven Visneau / © Culture Trip
Steven Visneau
Steven Visneau / © Culture Trip

Soho in SoCo opened on a sunny Saturday, with guests hopping into the pool to lounge on giant pizza floaties and making GIFs in the nearby photo booth. Farther back in the motel, there was music bumping from London’s own Soho Radio station and a relaxing combination of CBD oil and facials. That night, Culture Trip premiered its first-ever film, The Soul of Soho – directed by Keith Musil and scored by Grizzly Bear’s Christopher Bear – which follows local ballerinas, chefs, suit tailors and more from the Soho neighborhoods of London, New York and Hong Kong. Moviegoers enjoyed craft cocktails, popcorn with seasoning inspired by the three locations and delicious snacks like dumplings, tea sandwiches and pretzels, plus after-party beats by DJ Paul Sethi.

Steven Visneau
© Culture Trip

On Sunday, the Austin Motel opened its doors for the day for tarot readings from Typewriter Tarot and hosted podcast company Rooster Teeth for a recording of the show Always Open in our broadcast room. After happy hour, a bustling local vendors’ market kicked off. Meant to pay homage to Hong Kong’s famed night markets, the market featured 15 local vendors selling hand-made jewelry, candles, ceramics, leather goods, scents and more.

Steven Visneau
© Culture Trip
Steven Visneau
© Culture Trip

Finally, Monday’s festivities brought the house down. Daytime guests received colorful aura portraits from Mood by Moss and free original Culture Trip screenprints representing Austin, London, New York and Hong Kong, and got to attend a panel on creativity during the age of constant digital access with local creators hosted by the founding executive and creative director of Austin’s own events company #BossBabesATX, Jane Claire Hervey.

Steven Visneau
© Culture Trip
Steven Visneau
Steven Visneau / © Culture Trip

And then our double-decker bus took two very special guests around downtown Austin: the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season eight, Bob the Drag Queen, and RuPaul’s Drag Race season three and two-time RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars contestant Manila Luzon. Bob and Manila, who donned a glittering Union Jack dress, stepped out of the bus at the Austin Motel to a crowd of hundreds of adoring fans lined up for a chance to party with them at drag bingo. Inside, Bob and Manila performed, gave prizes like stuffed unicorns to bingo winners, and challenged two fans to lip-sync for their lives on stage.

Steven Visneau
© Culture Trip
Steven Visneau
© Culture Trip

After a thrilling time at SXSW, Culture Trip will bring more exciting events and experiences to the US in 2019, and you can explore all of our curious, hyperlocal storytelling from locations across the globe right now.

Our debut short film, The Soul of Soho, explores neighborhoods separated by oceans, history and culture but united by craft community and change. Neighborhoods bound by one name: Soho. Intimate portraits of city living in the Sohos of London, New York and Hong Kong reveal rich stories of the people who bring life to these iconic neighborhoods. Explore Soho here.

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