It’s no huge secret that I’m usually in Germany between Christmas and New Years for the Chaos Communication Club‘s magical annual Hacker event. Most people refer to it as the Congress, the “C3″ or, mostly in the US, “the CCC”.

My first Congress was the 23c3, where I spoke about the (now sadly dormant) Hacker Foundation. The legendary 2007 camp happened a few months later. That first Hackers on a Plane trip to the 2007 CCCamp is often thought of as the landmark introduction to the concept of community shared Hackerspaces.

At the very last minute, I ended up coordinating the Heralds at the 25c3. The night before the 26c3, I invented the concept of the “Mission Angel” to complement the awesome streaming that debuted that year. A few weeks before the 27c3, I took over the lightning talks and introduced the format that remains popular today. I hit my emcee comedy peak at the 28c3 with the BS Bingo and fazzor story. By the 29c3, I had pretty much completely handed over coordination duties to Chef, Lindw0rm, watz and SvenG, allowing me to focus purely on Lightning Talks, emergencies and goodwill. Throughout, I was blogging and fixing random issues before they became problems.

The 30c3 was amazing. I never imagined that I’d be around to see Saal 1 at the CCH in Hamburg completely filled with nerds, that we could have so many Assemblies that we basically had a quadrennial camp indoors. However, my favorite part of the 30c3 was something I had literally nothing to do with: The lounge (aka Revolution #9):

The video and whatever words I have to add can’t do what it was justice. Even now I’m struggling to attempt to describe how amazing it was. It’s not a great secret that those who do the real work in planning the C3s are involved with some of Germany’s most amazing music festivals. However, I could never imagine that our nerd community would be capable of creating an otherworldly magical space that went beyond an incredible set design, amazing programming and a vibe of gemütlichkeit I wish I had an equivalent English word for.

I really only got to experience it on the last few days. I took a moment to myself to watch a performance on the next to last day and partied on right up until the first signs of dawn on the last night of the 30c3. I wish I could fully explain it, but it was a cathartic experience and a wonderful cap on a seven year run at the most amazing annual event on the planet.

While it’s not a huge surprise to many of you, I think I’m going to let the 30c3 be the highlight of my Congress experience and a great feeling I’m going to hold onto for a few years. I couldn’t imagine a better note to take a rest on. I’m also incredibly grateful to the team that’s taking over the Lightning Talks, I am sure they will take my work and build immensely on it. While you’re all enjoying the 31/2/3c3s, I’ll hopefully be  welcoming my own family into this wonderful world you’re all helping create.

With the success of the #twodollars mention at the end of my last post about the disaster in Harlem (remember that?), I’m going to keep having fun and embedding surprises at the end of my posts. In honor of the lounge, the first 9 people who e-mail me with a valid postal address (anywhere in the world) will receive a special token from one of the congresses going back to the 23c3. (Edit: All 9 were claimed!) I only ask that you post the object I send you somewhere online and help promote a website where I’ll be liquidating the rest of my collection of hacker ephemera to raise money for certain causes.

If you ever get a chance to take part in something magical like the lounge, do it. If you ever get a chance to enjoy it…just drop everything you’re doing and enjoy it…even if you’re like me and need some practice at relaxing.