So you came to #SXSW, huh? You’re excited to hit the sidewalks, trek around downtown Austin and see what our city has to offer. But first: read the rules.
- Don’t litter. Yes, we know that many times the first trashcan you see is overflowing, but keep that litter in hand until you find the next one. The #SXSW volunteers and the city will be doing their best to keep things clean, and we expect you to do your part.
- Be kind to anyone serving you anything, whether it’s a free PBR or a paid meal. If service is abysmal, reduce your tip. If it’s free and service is abysmal, think about how that person with the ‘tude has to deal with masses of people clamoring for freebies. Who knows, maybe their cat died last night but they’re out there anyway, doing their job. Cut everyone some slack. Use “please” and “thank you” for extra credit.
- Don’t take a scooter. Let me repeat that. Do NOT take a scooter. Yes, you probably can ride one. Yes, you probably do have good intentions of leaving it in a proper place instead of strewn willy-nilly wherever it may fall. Just walk. Walk. Downtown isn’t huge. Or take a pedicab, bus, Lyft, Uber, bicycle. The scooters in Austin are a huge nuisance and dangerous. My blind friend Jake (who does not fault me for saying “blind” instead of “vision-impaired”) approves of this message, and beseeches you to think of those who cannot easily see when a scooter has been left lying across a walkway. He knows, as well as I do, that in a city with the state school for vision-impaired students, these scooters will end up seriously injuring someone who stumbles over them. And yes, vision-impaired people attend #SXSW and drink free PBR, too, so please give them safe sidewalks. We’ve already had one scooter rider die, and APD may just hand you a ticket for unsafe riding.
- If a venue is full, don’t turn your frustration and fury onto the door person. That unpaid volunteer (or minimum wage venue staff) is simply the messenger. Every venue knows that the fire marshal will be making the rounds all day and night in order to ensure that the venues are not packing y’all in like sardines. It’s safety, ya know?
- When the thought of yet another almost cold mass-produced breakfast taco or slice of pizza kicks off the search for a great meal, go local. We have so many top tier restaurants in town, in all price ranges, and it’d be a damn shame if you were here for a week and didn’t get a fresh breakfast taco or plate of barbecue, or Tex Mex. If you don’t know where to eat, ask an Austinite. The Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance publishes its annual #ATXBestEats, a handy guide of tasty spots.
- When you fall in love with Austin, and you will, don’t immediately make plans to move here. The reality of our awesome city is that traffic is horrendous and housing is horribly overpriced. Instead, please come back at the end of next month for the Austin Food & Wine Festival, and in the fall for #ACLFest. The #AFWFest is the singularly best way to try nibbles from all of the best restaurants in town, while drinking wine, craft spirits, and craft beer. It’s well worth the price of admission, and so much more than you can imagine. There’s live fire cooking, decidedly un-stuffy educational seminars, and cheflebrities galore. As for #ACLFest, it’s 3 days of the most music possible, with great food and craft beer. Come! Spend your money, have fun, make memories. Wash, rinse, repeat. You may not move here unless you spend at least one week visiting during the latter part of August or early September. If the brutal heat doesn’t scare you away, you might be a candidate for citizenship.
- Overindulgence. We’ve all done it. What you don’t want to do is to be that obnoxious drunk careening through the crowd like a toddler on a sugar high. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If you’ve had too much, hightail it back to your hotel room, Airbnb, or hostel. Do not puke in the Uber. Drink a Topo Chico, eat a banana, pop a few Tylenol’s, and sleep it off. Hydration is key.
- If you need a break from the crowds, seek out some serenity. The hike and bike trail around
Town LakeLady Bird Lake makes for a nice walk, and you can practice your zen breathing. Spend some time at the Blanton, visiting Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin.” Take in a goat yoga class. #naahmaste
- Network. Talk to people. If you’re excited about a panel, ask the person next to you what they are expecting to get out of it. Dialogue. Make connections.
- Have fun. What’s the point of bringing so many people together if you don’t enjoy yourself? Let your self relax, open up, and enjoy. Be happy.