The six people you’ll meet at SXSW

Courtney Runn

SXSW attracts people from all around the world, but they’re all pretty much the same if you pay close attention. Here are the six people to look out for this week.

The Newb: This person will be easy to spot because he will probably walk in late to everything. A mixed look of confusion, awe and exhaustion will help set him apart from other attendees. He has been waiting to come to SXSW forever and he is bound and determined not to waste a second. You’ll probably want to stay away from this person, unless you’re a newb, too. Then you’ll want to band together — the two of you will need all the help you can get. 

The Annoyed Austinite: This person has lived in Austin for over a decade, which apparently gives him the right to rain on South By’s parade. He still calls “Lady Bird Lake” “Town Lake,” and always will, and will proudly declare he loved Austin before it was popular. He will suggest alternative cities for tourists to disappear to, such as Houston or Dallas. Though he is bitter beyond belief, he kind of deserves his week-long pity party. Having millions of people descend upon your city and take over for a week can be a bit trying. Just offer him a smile and reassure him that no one will stay in Austin. Just one or two people. Or a few hundred.

The Famous Person: One day during SXSW, you will be walking down a crowded street, hungrily searching for anything that will get you through another afternoon of shows when you will see him: the famous person. You will stare harder, but you just won’t remember who exactly he is. Yet, you will feel an inexplicable need to take a picture with him, just in case. He could be the most famous person you’ll ever meet. And you know all your friends will ask you if you met anyone famous when you get home. You will run through the crowd, your thumb ready to swipe open the camera app, but then he will disappear into a building, and the closed door will leave you staring at the reflection of your un-famous self in the glass. So you basically just met a famous person. 

The SXSW Vet: This person is your idol: SXSW royalty. This isn’t his first festival and it shows — he has everything down to a tee. Last year, when you were trying to decide whether to watch another “Harlem Shake” video on YouTube, he was writing blog posts about who was rumored to come to the festival. And as soon as the lineups were released, he had already created the perfect schedule. He walks with ease and confidence and arrives on time to every event. He manages not to pay for anything and lives off of free goodies for the entire week. Find this person and walk in his footsteps. But not too close — keep a respectable distance at all times. Who knows, maybe someday that will be you. 

The Networker: This person is at SXSW for one and one reason only: to network. He probably has some mediocre idea that he is positive will become the next big thing. He will walk around in a zombie-like state, mechanically repeating his many accomplishments and shaking hands. He can recite his resume faster than you can pretend to have not seen him. Unfortunately, his efforts will probably appeal to at least one interested employer. But he also missed all the fun SXSW has to offer. You win some, you lose some. 

The Cheap Student: Somehow this person managed to get a coveted SXSW badge. He probably has a family friend who bought tickets months before and realized he couldn’t go. In desperation to get in, he could also be volunteering to work the event. However he got there, he is making the most of his experience. You’ll find this person wherever free things are being passed out — it doesn’t matter what it is, this person will take it. He will somehow have an even more amazing experience than you will. He will probably be the person who happens to run into all the famous people — and have the cultural insight to know why they’re famous — and will become Twitter famous from his live tweeting skills. Let this person have his fun — he won’t be able to afford to come back for a long, long time.