At least one thing you need to understand about South By Southwest, for those of you who have never attended it, is that it is a festival which basically takes over an entire major American city for about two weeks.
Now if there are similar gatherings in different places around the world that I am ignorant of, my mistake, but I feel that it is important to lend a little bit of the perspective I have gathered in my five-time streak witnessing the festival and living in the city where it all goes down.
If there is but one Rule of Thumb, it has to be this: do not, I repeat, DO NOT BURN THE LOCALS.
Most of the people you will meet working this shindig are from here. If they aren’t Austinites, they are at least regional folks from the surrounding Central Texas area. And there are a lot of stereotypes about the people of Texas – most at least minimally steeped in truth. The reputation that Texans are booze-swilling gun nuts and fans of scrapping is, well, pretty much true. It’s something that most of the people running this show can identify with on a cellular level.
And these people are tired. They are sleep-deprived. But at their core, they are good people. Many of them have been averaging 2-4 hours of sleep a night for the past week or more just so that all of you can have the most epic festival experience possible.
So if you come to this event with your ticket in one hand and what’s left of your hard-earned money in the other, to have a good time and witness a one-of-a-kind experience in a beautiful place, don’t forget: you are in someone else’s home. The people of Austin have welcomed you here, warmly, with cold Lone Stars waiting. And while the tenets of Southern hospitality have their merits, they also have their limits.
So do the right thing. Tip your servers. Don’t litter. Don’t be a dick. Remember that we all just want to have a good time, but you, visitor, get to leave afterward, so don’t destroy the place the people who offered up all that fun have to live in after you’re gone. Abide by this one unwritten law of SXSW, and every fest from here on out will be just as mutually beneficial as they should be.
Y’all have a great day.