SXSW: New Experience, Old Resident

By: Nikki May

You’re taught a few things when you’re born and raised in Austin: Music is life, breakfast tacos can be eaten at any time of day, and SXSW means that downtown should be avoided if you want any chance of keeping your sanity and patience. Rightfully so. It wasn’t until I was older did I decide to venture into SXSW, be it through a free music show, and find what all the fuss and talk was about. I can’t say I was surprised or offset by all that surrounded me — be it the ridiculous hairstyles, shorts that seemed to wither away with each step, or the thick smell of smoke and weed that clung to my clothes. I mean come on, I grew up in the same town as a cross-dressing homeless man that ran for mayor every chance he got. If anything, these people (whether local or not) served to entertain me as much as the show I went to see. And the best part? They didn’t cost anything except a smile and a whisper in amusement.

Fast forward to 2014: in college, newly of age to drink, and given the opportunity to not only be able to screen movies, but talk to those involved with them. Being able to stand in more of clusters than a line, having the bass beat reverberating through my body, the monotone ring in my ears afterwards… that’s all one thing. But to be in three feet from Nicholas Cage, having Seth Rogan and Zac Efron laughing and joking with the audience after Neighbors, and being among the first to witness a film… now that’s something else.

I would hear from those that happened to have family working for SXSW that it was an experience you will never forget, that the lack of sleep and long lines were worth it for that finite moment of enjoyment. Yeah, sure. That’s just your exhaustion and hope of getting a picture with someone famous talking. People would willingly stand in temperamental Texas’ weather in an off a chance of getting into a venue? They don’t mind all the crowds? Really, all those crowds don’t bother them? It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t imagine spending all week there, dealing with that every day. Now, I know what you’re thinking – here comes the moment she becomes completely enamored by SXSW and proved wrong. And to that I say, good call.

You win, SXSW. You win. I don’t how you’re so charismatic and I don’t understand how you’ve made standing in lines and shoving through people exhilarating. You’ve turned my caution into a craving. I crave being on those red carpets. I crave experiencing film and listening to the directors. I crave the busyness, the hectic scrambling sometimes to get one place from another. I don’t mind running on few hours of sleep (though as of late, my body has had a different opinion) and staying out and about all day. That’s allowed the thought provoking nature of She Lost Control, the fandom of Veronica Mars, the warmhearted Chef, the overtop party that was Neighbors, the darker side of Texas life in Joe, and the painfully boring The Mend. It has permitted to meet amazing people from all walks of life and learn not only about that world, but about me. I had always seen myself as a writer, working in publishing. But now, it’s all blurry.

I finally fell in love with the event that has for so many years made me roll my eyes. I guess that whole notion of love is blind is true. Blind to the craziness, the rude people, the exhaustion, the quick bites of food, and the stress. But you want to know the best part? It isn’t even over yet.

To those that have been pushing through this week, as that old famous quote from that famous book said, “We are all fools in love”.



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