How to Make it Through 10 Days of Festivities Unscathed
SXSW is one of the most wonderful times of the year. But you already knew that, right? If you’ve been doing your homework, you should have already RSVPd to all the daytime shows and parties you wish to attend during the festival. If you have a badge or wristband, hopefully the 5,000+ event schedule on the official SXSW website wasn’t so overwhelming. What you are left with now is an inbox full of emails from companies you’ve never heard of before aka the hosts of the parties where you will freeload guilt-free. Now all you have to worry about is meals, transportation, attire, and organization.
Here are some tips on everything you might want to know…
Make a Schedule, Sync Your Calendar and Download Some Cool Apps
I don’t know anything about Blackberries, Androids or Windows Phones though. This is for Apple whores. I guess if your phone is similar and can perform the same tasks then more power to you, but I don’t care.
Most event organizers use third-party companies like Eventbrite to facilitate your RSVPing. If you feel like you did a bunch of those, I recommend that you download the app and sync the events to your iPhone calendar. Then, add the tickets to your Passbook. If you have already taken the time to log each individual event then forget about it. Don’t overlap. The whole point is that you should consolidate all your events into one single source. The app will send you push notifications to remind you of the events you signed up for with a few hours in advance. Very handy! If you actually have a badge of wristband you might as well download the official sxsw app and go to official showcases and events only. Free parties are so ridiculously packed for the most part.
Be Realistic About Your Goals
I know you really want to see everyone on your Super Trendy Playlist, watch all the films that got any mention on entertainment publications and sit through 5 interactive conferences in a row, all the while drinking all the free drinks and eating all the free food. But to be honest this is probably not going to happen. You are only human. My experience going to big festivals for the past couple of years has taught me a few things about endurance though, and this is what I think you should know…
- (Healthy) Snacking saves time and money, specially if you pack from home
- Drinking a lot of water could be life-saving
- More than 3 drinks before 5 PM = nap
- Take advantage of complimentary transportation. There are free bikes and bus rides at SXSW for badge and wristband holders.
- There’s also Uber, Car2Go, and I think like Redbox has a thing too. I guess these costs money, but they’ll be a lot more convenient that driving your own car and trying to find parking. Seriously. Thinking about that gives me nightmares.
- Bring cash: for food trucks, tips and pedicabs.
- Don’t wear heavy boots, heels, or flip flops. Open-toed shoes and sandals BEWARE of toe-steppers.
- Carry a comfortably-sized bag that can at least fit a light sweater and a water bottle. It will get cold and hot throughout the day, and your little purse or satchel can’t hold shit. You’ll also get a bunch of flyers and posters and overall festival paraphernalia, so you really want something that can hold all your new swag.
Take a Friend Everywhere, Preferably a Female Friend
Statistically, girls have better chances at getting into exclusive events that have heterosexual male bouncers working the door. I usually bring like 4 or 5 girls with me to avoid any issues. In my experience, it has worked well in Mexico, Europe and the continental US. Is it our fault girls are beautiful creatures? No. All sexism aside though, being with a friend in general makes the whole SXSW experience 10x more awesome. If you don’t have any friends at South by, make new ones. You never know who you’re going to meet, which leads me into my last and final tip…
Treat the Festival as a Networking Opportunity and Not Just a Big Party
Seriously. You never know when Gael Garcia is going to hand you his iPhone and ask you to take a picture of him and his friends, which will thus prompt his producer to talk to you and give you a business card, which actually happened IRL.
Make some business cards. When you make a good networking connection, pulling out your phone to jot down the person’s information is kinda tacky. Writing it down on a random piece of paper is even worse. Business cards range between $20-50 and take 3-5 days to process/print/be available. Note: Making a little note (in reference to the place or situation in which you met that person) on the back of your business card is actually acceptable. I.E. “Solange showcase, music video idea…”
There is also something magical that happens among smokers. Exchanging cigarettes, lending somebody a lighter or sharing your herb could be your next best networking opportunity.