Thinking Spatially for SXSW

We’re leaving in a few days, and I must say I’m very excited.  But also there’s a bit of trepidation lingering around.  Although I scored two great hotels in the downtown area, the festival is pretty far-flung, so I’m overwhelmed about how to approach my first trip to Austin, let alone my first trip to SXSW.  Thanks to my transverse myelitis, I can’t walk really long distances without severe neurological discomfort.  So couple that with lots of standing and warm weather, and I’ll be out of energy in no time.  I’m too proud for a handicapped sign, but sometimes I know it would make things easier.

First I tried to tackle planning for the festival by using the favorites feature on the SXSW Go app to keep track of the bands I want to see.  It’s pretty crazy how much programming is out there, and how difficult it is to figure out where some of these far-flung bars are located.  I know I’ll love the vibe of the city and the music spilling out of doorways, but I’m worried I’m setting myself up for disappointment when I run out of energy on Day Two.  I’ve read a baker’s dozen SXSW virgin to do and tip lists, and it’s making it all more confusing.  But I have a plan.

I know I have difficulty walking long ways, and I’m assuming taxis will be impossible to hail.  So I’m going to take a neighborhood approach to the festival, by learning about the different venues on a spatial basis. I’m a city planner, so what can I say.  My hotel for the first half of the week is the Austin-Town Lake Holiday Inn, which is convenient to the river pathway system and also the Rainey Street neighborhood.  Being on the far southeast corner of Downtown, it also seems like a good way to visit the East-side neighborhoods.  I’m hoping a good way to get between neighborhoods will be Uber (who is running a deal through RSVPster for a free first ride).  So I’ll try Uber at least once (since it’s free), and hopefully that will be better than hailing a taxi. 

Now that I’ve figured out how to look at schedules by location, I’ll be able to group them spatially and try to wander around one neighborhood at a time.  Of course, if some crazy gig is announced at the last-minute that will all be out the window.  But here goes the theory.  I’ll do a few neighborhood spotlights in the next few days as I pull my own research together.


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