What SXSW Volunteers & Ground Control Wants You to Know

02/26/2017 09:08 am ET Updated Feb 26, 2017
Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano

Be Prepared for the 2017 Music Festival Season

As the 2017 music festival season begins worldwide, Austin, Texas, the Live Music Capital of the World, will be filled with thousands of avid music fans. SXSW concert-goers are asking about local culture and how to avoid festival faux pas. While you’re enjoying the positive vibes and lively atmosphere, observe the local customs. Here are do’s and don’ts to help guide your musical manners day and night.

Do: Be courteous of fellow concert goers.

Although there will be crowds, avoid pushing your way through the music-loving masses. Austin, Texas, is located in the southwestern U.S. where southerners queue patiently for merchandise and food. A smile and a polite “excuse me” when you pass by goes a long way! If you really want to be near the stage, arrive early to secure your spot and wait for the show.

Don’t: Expect to Find Parking

In Austin, although we don’t have Lyft or Uber, we make use of RideAustin, FastenFare, Get Me, InstaRyde, Wingz, and Z-Trip. For our environmentally friendly visitors, Austin has a green-energy limo service company called ExecuTesla, as well as bike rental services and pedicab available. For those on a budget, Austin also has its own metro system with periodic stops around downtown to help you get to your destination.

Do: Stay hydrated and well-fueled.

Between the midday sun, thousands of dancing bodies, and long hours in the Texas heat, concert festivals are a recipe for dehydration. Keep a water bottle handy and pack high-energy snacks that won’t melt, such as granola, nuts, a banana, or clementines. Check in advance about bringing food and drink. If not permitted, bring cash for refreshments.

Don’t: Smoke in Public Spaces

In Texas, the legal age to buy or use tobacco products is 18; anyone under 27 is required to show ID to buy tobacco. Due to Austin being a Clean Air City, smoking is prohibited in public places within the city limits including bars, concert halls, parks, pubs, restaurants, taxis, and within 15 feet of a pedestrian entrance to a building. Request a designated smoking room when booking a hotel. Smokers must find a designated outdoor smoking area and properly dispose of cigarette butts, wrappers, etc. However, smoking is permitted in private homes.

Do: Drink Responsibly

In Texas, the legal drinking age is 21. Bartenders, bouncers, servers, and store clerks will ask for a government issued ID to verify age before serving or selling alcohol. Public intoxication is illegal in Texas , so drink responsibly.

Don’t: Be a Bystander

If you witness theft, aggression, or assault, alert security immediately so the situation can be handled. Think of SXSW as a community of music lovers united by enthusiasm for the festival experience. Strive to promote a safe environment.

Don’t Mess with Texas!

We love our bluebonnets and landscapes in Texas. Lady Bird Johnson helped beautify America, and she started in the Lone Star state. We have some of the strongest anti-littering laws in the U.S., so although no one wants to miss out on a song to dispose of a wrapper or water bottle, taking a moment to find a trash can is responsible. Outdoor venues are notorious for resembling a landfill after the crowds depart. Be a gem - pick up your trash, and dispose of it in the proper receptacle.

Do: Live in the moment.

Keeping your phone in front of your face prevents you from engaging with the music and enjoying the moment. It also sends a message to the artists that your perfect Instagram moment is more important than their performance. Take a picture once in awhile; then put the camera away to focus on the music.

As you plan which music stages to frequent and the list of must-see artists, we hope these guidelines provide insight for a unique and unforgettable concert experience at SXSW 2017.

Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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