If you love music, if you love film, if you love tech, if you love policy, heck if you love to think, and laugh, and enjoy life South by Southwest® (SXSW®) is the place to be. SXSW is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in all the things that make life exciting. It’s a place where you can take a deep dive into intellectual concepts that are on the cutting edge of finding solutions to the things the plague the world we live in. SXSW is also where brands come to showcase their newest innovations and where the best is popculture is showcased. No matter what your geekdom is, you won’t find it hard to keep busy at SXSW.
The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW® is the premier destination for discovery.~SXSW Website
Between March 4–17, 2019, the SXSW Conference & Festivals, SXSW EDU, and SXSW Gaming drew approximately 417,400 people to Austin. Here’s some highlights of my time at SXSW 2019, as a first-time attendee.
Food and Music
The best thing about attending SXSW is that you never have to worry about finding free food. It’s almost everywhere and the best part about that is that it’s almost always accompanied by live music. I spent every afternoon in one house or another, taking in live music and enjoying delicious bites.
I found myself learning about tiny houses, jamming out, and enjoying free drinks at the Door Dash Lounge! I sat down by myself and my table quickly became the black table. Met my fellow Afro-Latina sister, Janel, and had a great chat about our intersectionality journey!
Experiential Marketing in Downtown Austin
All around downtown Austin, sponsors had experiential hubs set up where you could pop in for all sorts of interesting activities. And, yes, more food! LOL
I really enjoyed visiting the Bumble Hub and learning how they are empowering women to “make the first move.” 😀 I haven’t dated anyone in a while and have to admit that I find dating much harder than when I was younger. However, I find internet dating a bit overwhelming. I had never heard of Bumble before so I was very happy to learn about their model which is meant to provide women a more comfortable and safe online dating experience. I had a great time. The weather was beautiful and sunny. I got some free iced coffee and lots of Bumble goodies to take home.
I love any excuse to celebrate whimsy and to say cheers to happiness. I’ve always been drawn to celebrate holidays that make people take a step back and just have fun. Saint Patrick’s Day is one of those and it’s always been one of my favorite holidays.
I was lucky enough to celebrate St. Patty’s Day in Austin at WeWork. We had an amazing roof top party, sponsored by Guinness, and I found myself in a photo featured on our WeWork portal. COOL! Plus, I had a chance to meetup with my old friend, Quentin, who came up to say hi.
Bring on the Beauty
I’ve always been a makeup junkie so much so that I once considered being a makeup artist. I love experimenting with products that make me feel beautiful and help me bring what’s inside to the surface. I’ve been an IPSY girl since 2015 so I was overjoyed when I stumbled upon their pop up shop at SXSW.
I actually ended up returning to it everyday so that I could get more beauty freebies. I even got a facial onsite. By the time SXSW was over, I had enough makeup and beauty products to last me for an entire year if not longer. I even had enough to gift some to my mother and my sister.
Music is Life
The badge I got was an Interactive badge which gave me secondary access to the music festival. However, as I mentioned before music is everywhere at SXSW so I didn’t really miss anything. One of the evenings at the Door Dash Lounge, I was treated to a live performance by Cee Lo Green.
Several countries had set up lounges at SXSW to promote tourism and they had lots of music performances that were open to anyone who didn’t mind waiting in line for a bit. My favorite I think was the British House and the German House.
The one music festival activity that I decided to line up for was De La Soul. I grew up with them and they are legends of hip hop. There was not way I wasn’t going to try and get in to see them.
Even though I had an Interactive badge, which meant I only had secondary access to Music events, I got in just fine. I got in early and even met a nice guy while I was there with whom I enjoyed great beer and laughs.
Food for Thought
It’s true that SXSW brings tons of fun but what really gets me going is the intellectual stimulation. The panels are absolutely not to be missed. My favorite panel was in discussion about the Psychology behind the game “The Legend of Zelda.”
I was really most fascinated by the discussion around how Princess Zelda has evolved over time. The Psychologist pointed out how in Super Smash Brothers she’s depicted as a warrior, not the damsel in distress she was in the original 1986 version of the game. The discussion highlighted how Zelda has evolved over time to have her own sense of agency. It made me think how gaming can be used to both reinforce or shape social constructs like gender norms. I’m thankful that today’s little gamer girls have an example that shows them that they don’t have to simply be victims but that they can fight and aid in their own salvation when faced with adversity.
The SXSW Gaming Expo showcases gaming culture in a unique atmosphere of exploration and discovery. Featuring interactive exhibits from game developers and manufacturers and highlights like the Discovery Stage and Tabletop Experience, the Gaming Expo offers a deep dive into the latest in gaming.
I’m not a huge gamer but I do have a few games that I love playing and I am a big proponent of the benefits of gaming culture. My go to game of choice?…Ms. Pac-Man! I can play it all day every day. As long as I can remember it has always been a source of joy. Every time my cute little yellow avatar is bitten I feel it at my core and I jump. My other all time fave, Mario!!! Who doesn’t love that little red plumber and his brother Luigi? When he saves the Princess, we save her together and the joy of victory against King Koopa is as real as any. In the gaming world it’s so easy to be totally lost in fantasy and live a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Alienware and Red Bull kicked off SXSW Gaming with live music, drinks and the best-in-class Alienware gaming products at the Alienware Outpost.
While at the Alienware Outpost I bumped into Trey Smith. I’ve never really been that big on pressing celebrities for photos. Something about it always seems wrong to me. However, this time I thought why not.
SXSW is by far the best event that I have ever attended and I can’t wait to return in 2020. I’ve been to many large events before but nothing like this. I have never been around so many interesting people from so many walks of life in one place.
As an ambivert, I can be ver you going but I also find it difficult to be around large groups of people for long periods of time. By the end of SXSW all the togetherness was starting to get to me and I was becoming very irritable. I ended up taking the last two days to wonder on my own and I still had a really good time.
All in all, even though I did end up seeking some alone time, I’m very happy that I wasn’t alone the entire time and was able to share the festival with friends. One benefit from having freelanced in promotional marketing is that I normally know people who are working at events such as this. Thankfully, this was the case at SXSW and I had my promo peeps around to make the experience extra special. Plus, my best friend, Irik, also came down to hang with us for the first four days. SXSW definitely would not have been the same without these people and I will forever cherish the memories. I had the time of my life!!!