DO’S & DON’TS OF SXSW
As the end of February nears, we began to prepare ourselves for Spring Break. A time when students around the country collectively shout, “to hell with school, and homework” and run down to the beach in search of partying and booze. The city of Austin will, however, be hosting South By South West (SXSW), a multi interactive film, music, and tech festival that has been around for over 30 years. This event is seen by many as an alternative to the overly crowded and sometimes dangerous beaches that have become synonymous with Spring Break. While SXSW can be a bit pricy especially regarding access badges, which are priced at $1395 and $1725 this year, but there is no need to worry. As someone who’s been going to SXSW religiously since 2012, I have compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts that will enable you to get a great experience without going broke in the process.
DO: Create a separate email for SXSW
Ok, so when gearing up for South By, one thing to note is that there is going to be a barrage of events popping up left and right. Some are exclusive to badge holders while others simply require an RSVP via email. You want to create a separate email so you can keep track of all the events and not worry about them getting mixed up with your everyday emails. Make sense? Protip: Googling free SXSW events 2020 will set you on the right path
DO: Make social media your best friend
Twitter and Facebook are such useful tools when it comes to SXSW. There are so many users and accounts on twitter that are constantly updating regarding free shows, free food, short lines, and giveaways. And Facebook has groups solely dedicated to free SXSW events. Protip: One of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow is @thefreenoms, this account is the go-to for free food and drinks and usually has connections to other free twitter accounts, so keep an eye out
DON’T: Pay for parking
last year I saw parking that was $80!! $80 that could be used for literally anything else. If you have a friend who happens to stay in the area as I do, ask to leave your car at their spot and just catch the bus (if it’s not too far) or use Lyft, Uber, an electronic scooter or communal bikes.
DON’T: Get stuck waiting
This happened to me once when I was a rookie, I waited 3 hours in line only to realize I needed a stupid badge to get in, that or pay $50. The best thing to do to avoid the confusion is to ask the person in front of you the details before you hop in line and make that commitment.
DO: Plan for the weather
I can’t stress this enough, make sure you check the weather each time you go out in the morning. You don’t want to get caught in a random rainstorm without an umbrella or bundled up when it’s nice and sunny.
DO: Bring cash
While some places do take cards, cash is always universal and much less of a hassle. ATM fees are ridiculous at festivals.
DON’T: Forget your phone charger
This should be a given. Your phone is your life source (duh). You’ll encounter charging stations as you make your way through the downtown area. Companies like Samsung and McDonalds among others have pop-ups where you can rest, charge your phone and grab some snacks. Free of course! If you need a charge just stop by the previously mentioned Austin Convention Center, of one of the many hotels or coffee shops in the area. Protip: Invest in a portable charger
DO: Bring a backpack
A backpack is a lifesaver and you will be the envy of all your friends. I usually have a few bottles of waters tucked away, maybe some snacks, a sweater and whatever random CDs, flyers or merch I picked up along the way.
DON’T: forget comfortable shoes
Walking a lot + unformattable shoes = hell… Walking a lot + comfortable shoes = more pleasant hell… simple mathematics
DO: Frequent unofficial SXSW showcases
while out on the prowl you’ll come across many official SXSW showcases and many that aren’t, (There’s always a sign somewhere telling you so). Don’t let the latter deter you from checking them out though. I’ve been to many unofficial showcases in my day and had a blast. So much hungry talent from all over the world who are using this opportunistic approach to make a name for themselves and these showcases are usually always free!!
DON’T: Get yourself in trouble
This should be a given. The Austin PD is out heavy during SXSW, especially around 6th street. Do yourself a favor and don’t be one of the people who end up in cuffs at the end of the night because they can’t handle their liquor.
Extra Protip: Fader Fort is one of the most popular showcases of SXSW, want in? Go to fader.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email into the subscription bar. That will throw your name into the system and you should expect an email invitation leading up to the event