The Time I Went to Austin’s SXSW
I don’t know really, never been but we’ll find out. I know it’s in Austin.
Austin’s South by Southwest tl;dr
- March multimedia event that incorporates Downtown Austin
- Lots of music, movie, food, drink, people, and conferences
- Too much to see it all, so choose wisely
Nadia, from time to time goes away for a work function in different locations around the world for any number of reasons. And likewise, I sometimes tag along on her excursion to somewhere new, with the firm mission in hand to explore what she is not able to and bring back something tasty.
To date, I’ve had this type of deployment repeat time and time again in Tokyo, South Korea, Taiwan, different parts of the US and then some. Sometimes there’s a lot to find out and other times it’s a chance to delve deeper into a locale that I’ve been to before. And now I find myself in Austin for a couple of days of Texan hospitality for the first time.
In this particular case, Nadia attended South By and I happened to tag along to find out more about SXSW and as much as I could about what happens outside the exhibition halls. I’ve walked around everywhere, from the river to the university and let me tell you, that during this time of the year, there’s always something going on somewhere.
What is It
South By Southwest is truly an experience of epic proportions that immerses you in Austin’s weirdness, the world’s newest technology, current media, Texan culture and everything in between. Depending on who you ask, there’s are different opinions about SXSW, some good and some not so good. Either way, there’s definitely a certain electricity in the air giving you a sense of excitement that anything could happen.
Judging from the things I heard about being announced, from movies, to music to new technology, there’s always something new happening around every corner. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a point where you’ll realize that you may have gone down the wrong road to find nothing of import, but all you have to do is turn yourself around and walk back toward the city center to find yourself boot deep in something fun.
While I can’t say much to the effect of what happens within the convention center other than what I’ve heard from people who attended (honestly it sounded kind of boring to my less than sober ears). Surrounding exterior venues looked like they were commandeered for some kind of event or afterparty, noise spilling out of their doors and windows onto the streets, adding to the cacophony of sight and sound. Other venues look like they built up their spaces to host large groups of people.
What I can say is that while walking around town I found:
- Performance stages built
- People doing impromptu performances
- People eating all manners of food
- People drinking all kinds of things
- People singing their hearts out
- People having a good time
The streets were filled with people coming and going to functions and others like me, simply getting lost in the maelstrom of human activity. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only new person in the crowd getting overwhelmed.
There’s simply so many different people vying for your attention, any way they can. From the moment you land in Austin to the moment you step back off your plane in the next city after Austin people want you to do things:
- Eat their food
- Drink their drink
- Listen to their mission
- Buy their product
- Watch their project
- Spend your money
- Spread their word
Where is It
SXSW can be seen to encompass more and more of Downtown Austin as the years go by. Typically centered around the Austin Convention Center where a lot of talks are held formally, events, functions and activities can be found fanning out from there in nearly any direction. Walking up and down either Congress Ave or 6th Street in central Austin, I found nearly everything I wanted to do and a bunch of things I didn’t know that I wanted to do.
What to Do There
What isn’t there to do? Go up and down those mainstreets where you’ll find nearly everything under the sun when it comes to food, music, drinks and people. Depending on when you attend, either it’s just starting or ending either have yet to start full force or is starting to trail off. If you happen to attend during the prime time then you’re pretty much guaranteed sensory overload.
If you were going to tell me that I was going to be visually accosted by dancing people and singing squirrells, I would have laughed at you and went back to drinking. I would never have guessed that was exactly what I was going to do.
If you have a reason to go, then check out as much as possible before your time there is up. There’s too much to see in any given amount of time but you can’t go wrong in whichever direction you walk.
What’s your favorite part about SXSW?