When I first heard of the plans to host this year's DjangoCon EU in a circus tent, I was a little sceptical - after all, conference venues have evolved over many decades to serve the many needs of a large-scale event. Seating, airflow, power, networking, A/V, catering and toilets are all needs of a modern conference population.
The end result, however, was impressive. The circus tent had been outfitted with power, WiFi, lighting, a stage, projectors, audio and even chillers full of drinks, and beats many indoor venues I've spoken in. One entire side of the tent was open to the outside, providing easy airflow and access without making the inside too bright.
There were a couple of small niggles - the flight path of the nearby airport had changed the week before, meaning planes would occasionally interrupt talks, there wasn't quite enough toilet capacity at peak times, and WiFi was sluggish - which is normal for tech conferences. These were all outweighed by the positives, though - and what positives there were.
One of my tweets describes the conference as "like a music festival", which gives some idea of the wonderful attitude everyone had. Hammocks, deckchairs and bean bags were some of the seating options, there was a plentiful supply of free popcorn, and in between talks you could wander down to the fountain, relax on picnic blankets under the trees or dip into an entire freezer of ice cream.
Everyone was in a very good mood, and very relaxed. DjangoCon has always gone for a laid back approach, and here it worked incredibly well. I mostly come to DjangoCon to socialise and meet new people, rather than to learn from the talks, and in that environment it worked very well.