I recently read this tweet by @CalEvans, I couldn't have said it better myself.
@adamculp threw a party in Miami and a conference broke out. :) #ssp15”
When I return from a conference, I feel like I return from a party, I'm exhausted but I will always have had the time of my life.
This party where you met a lot of likeminded friends, where you talk about things all of you enjoy and you end up drunk doing silly things in the evening. In the case of Benelux it was surfing and spending our fake ‘benebux' in a fake casino. In the case of SunshinePHP it was talking about Neo4j in the jacuzzi at 4am in the morning.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Wait, conferences are for learning. Why do you mention the party aspect?” because for me, conferences are for socialising and learning from eachother. What better way is there to learn from a speaker than discussing their topic with them at the social after or even before their talk? Don't be afraid to ask them about the topic. “They probably talked about this a lot already.”, yes, they probably did. But you know what? They're so passionate about it they want to talk about it EVEN more. That is what makes PHP speakers so amazing. We're not paid to do this, other than often a speaker package in the form of travel and hotel, but we do this out of passion.
That is a passion that we share with the attendees of conferences such as Benelux and SunshinePHP. At both conferences I gave a talk about Neo4j graph databases. This is a topic that is pretty new in the PHP community and a lot of people are interested about it. If you want to know more about neo4j I suggest you go to neo4j.org/learn.
Do you have to enjoy parties to enjoy the conference? Absolutely not, just stay as long as you want, but I do advice you to skip some sessions to enjoy the everlasting hallway track. In the hallway track you control the topics.
At both conferences I learnt a lot from the sessions that I attended, I got inspired by the keynotes but I got the most out of you the PHP community, so thank you for partying with me! And thanks Michelangelo van Dam, and the crew for throwing Benelux, thanks Jeremy Mikola and the crazy rest for throwing WurstCon and thank you Adam Culp, for not only throwing the most amazing party I've ever been at, SunshinePHP 2015, but also for throwing such a wonderful event where I felt safe and respected as the developer that I am.