Things You Can Do If You Arrive to SXSW a Week Early

Things You Can Do If You Arrive to SXSW a Week Early

Thanks to poor planning, my college’s spring break falling on the wrong week, and my desire to not skip work and get fired, I arrived in Austin for SXSW approximately 72 hours prior to the opening morning. So, I’ve gotten to know the city. From learning about the passing of a local homeless legend to watching a local start-up pin all its hopes on SXSW Interactive, and harassing a bouncer for not remembering me (I’m wearing red shoes + red coat, c’mon brainless), I have realized my ultimate goal: being able to bitch and moan about the influx of South-byers with the rest of the locals at the bar.

If you ever fall into this predicament, here are some time-killers:

Hang out with the South By Education conference attendees. They aren’t as exotic interesting, they pack the P.F. Chang’s, and they salivate over what Arne Duncan’s speech will mean for their textbook company’s fraction muncher’s ap or whatever. But I met a dance professor from California who told me my Twitter feed was blocking my neuroprocessers and thus preventing me from full intimacy. And then she bought my burritos. So, there’s that.

Pick up your registration card on Thursday before opening morning. This won’t take up like 15 minutes of your time if you do it early. But, seriously, do it early. I just walked the equivalent of a gym class nightmare (between ¾ – 1 full mile) and the line into the registration corral never stopped.

Meet local Austin-ites. Austin-ites will fall over themselves insisting they aren’t like “the rest of Texas.” Which is probably a good thing. But the “rest of Texas” has invaded. I saw two old men in white beards who look like they’d taken time off from running a still to come into town and fight over a souvenir coin machine.

Go to the Texas History Museum. Check out the “Star of Destiny” Imax. Alamo, oil industry, cowboys, blah blah blah. Sure. But, if the words “Sam Houston,” “hologram,” and “floating in space” don’t get your antennae up, you better check your pulse.

Enjoy the austere confines of the Austin Public Library. Rumor has it this building was built as a nuclear holocaust bunker, then filled with books and a few Ethernet cables when the Cold War ended.

Buy vintage clothing or records. A proprietor informed me the shelves have been stocked for the oncoming blitz of hipsters with their school loan checks cashed. I’ve purchased a 1990 Elton John cassette tape and nearly went down on a piece of artwork of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus wearing a baseball cap.

Drink and eat Tex-Mex, unimpeded by lines. Austin has a string of bars on 6th Street that shockingly will pour you double-shots of Jameson for cheap year round, not just during SXSW! Also, BBQ food trucks circle the joint down here like Mario Kart. And if you’re into sitting front row at shows by grizzled 50-year-old guitarists playing the blues, this is your city to kill time in ’til something actually fun starts.

Dunstan McGill

Photo courtesy eResume4Vips