The day after Christmas, wrapping paper lines the floor, new acquisitions sit in a pile on your bed and you feel both relieved and disappointed for the madness and excitement to be over. This is the exact feeling of coming home after SXSW. Trash lines the streets, endless swag fills your Jansport backpack and you’re at once excited to sleep but sad that the party’s over. Before getting back to real life, let’s reminisce on the past week (and ahead for next year). Here are a few tips for SXSW 2011:
1. Get a hotel near the convention center with friends. Before heading to Austin, check out where the convention center is and find a hotel around the area early on. There are shuttles that go to the hotels further out, but if you can shell out the extra $20 or so a night, definitely go for it. When you’re trying to get to your hotel after Fang Island (the best set ever) at 2 am and the shuttle’s load of drunken losers kill your buzz, you’ll wish you had spent the extra money. Also, go with friends! Not only will it be cheaper, but sharing the entire experience will make it 100x better.
2. Pick up your badge first. When you get to Austin, pick up your badge and complimentary bag at the convention center first, and then go check in to your hotel. They often give you free swag when you first arrive, so it’s best to drop everything off in your room at once rather than having to go back to your hotel right away.
3. Use the SXXpress badge and plan ahead. A new feature this year, the SXXpress badges are for those attendees who have music or platinum badges. SXXpress allows you to jump the line at one venue each night. However, if a show’s at capacity, you can still be denied entry. If one show is sold out, have a backup plan ready to put into action immediately. You have to move and think fast in order to get into everywhere you want to. You can pick up these badges up on the 4th floor of the conference center.
4. Pack appropriately. Obviously this is a no-brainer. However, Saturday’s cold weather left many people unprepared. You might want to throw in a hoodie or raincoat just in case. Also, ladies, don’t wear heels. Chicks will look at you like you’re crazy and creeps will try to take you home. Basically, wear comfortable shoes, don’t get sunburn, but stay warm.
5. Stay hydrated and healthy. No, not with alcohol. Drink tons of water during the day; don’t binge on tacos. A slice of pizza or two is great, but when you ate a whole pizza at noon and it’s 8 pm and you’re running to and from shows, it’s not so great.
6. Wear earplugs! It doesn’t matter how uncool you feel or how dorky they look. Standing next to the monitors at Visqueen and Sharon Jones was unreal, but getting to She & Him and only hearing static was so not worth it. So take care of yourself, and the experience will be a ton more enjoyable.
Above all of these things, the one thing you definitely should do is GO! The memories, sun and incredible music make everything at SXSW worth the money and time. Round up a group of friends and make it happen! This is a moment in life you will never regret making happen, but look back on and smile.