The Common Sense Guide to SXSW: It’s Really Not That Hard*

Seems like everyone is posting a “Guide to SXSW”. Many of these contain paragraph after paragraph of tangible advice, everything from “Be nice” (I agree) to “Buy up all the chalk, bubbles, glitter…you can” (HUH? Um…no.) With respect to everyone’s opinions, y’all are frankly thinking about it way too much. (And don’t get me started on my hatred for the word ‘hustle’. Kindly shut the fuck up now, please). Yes, SXSW is an event, a huge one, at that. Yes, it is potentially overwhelming with all of the parties, people and panels (yep, they still offer those in the midst of the marketer’s wet dream of an event it’s now become), but I urge you to not think too much about it. Don’t overplan. Don’t stress. Just show up, bring business cards, and be open to serendipity. 

But if you really want a few more tips from this 9-year veteran, sure. Here you go.

  • Drink water. You’ll need it.
  • Get enough sleep. Skip some morning panels, order breakfast in bed; take a night off. The whole trend of “staying up all night to hustle” is not only annoying as hell (blog post forthcoming on that bullshit) but it’s also unhealthy. Get sleep. Your body needs it.
  • Wear your real clothes, not your stupid brand on your shirt. And if those are the only clothes you own, I’ve got a good stylist I’ll recommend you.
  • Pick one party you want to go to. All week. Yes, that sounds counter-intuitive, but just let the days & night evolve as you want to. You’ll go to a ton more, but if you over-plan, you’re going to be stressed out. That’s no fun for anyone, especially me who will tell you to chill the fuck out. (I hate being repetitive.)
  • Say yes more than no. Your new friend wants to ditch out on a panel & go to Moonshine? Do it.  
  • Spend some time in the sun. The back lawn of the Four Seasons is delectable. Sitting on the grass will recharge your soul.
  • Exercise. Even if I’m hungover as hell (read: usually), I drag my weary ass for a run (or fast walk, depending upon said hangover) down by Lady Bird Lake to start my day. It’s beautiful, and there’s this great little bench that I dare you to find. 
  • Hook up. No need to check in to get your “Bangin’ Badge”, pal, but hey, kissing a new friend is fun. And if you’re taken, having an innocent SXSW crush doesn’t hurt…just don’t take it too far. It’s good for the serotonin, and after the depletion caused by all that boozing, you’ll need it. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Whether you’re there to pimp your company or to just have fun and meet new people, nobody wants to get a sales pitch from a new friend. That will come up in the conversation, but that lad donning head-to-toe schwag telling you their new app is like Pinterest for zombies? Kindly shut the fuck up.

SXSW is what you make of it. It can be a very effective networking opportunity, and it can also be a fun, enjoyable, relaxing few days with great weather and a chance to meet new people. Don’t overthink, and for God’s sake, please don’t sprinkle me with glitter. That’s SOOO 2007.

*That’s what she said.

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