SXSW Day 1 Recap: Tacos and jetlag

Agency Communications Manager for DDB North America Madison Seely kicks off the daily recap series for SXSW with a few words on tacos and outer space.

There’s something about stepping out from the airport into a balmy city hours after leaving a blizzard that disorients and delights – much like the SXSW 2017 Festival.

I landed in Austin early in the afternoon with only a minor flight delay and promptly made my way to my Airbnb. The apartment is located on Rainey Street, which is a glowing strip of nightlife and live music I inevitably discovered later that night. After dropping my bags and throwing on some fresh clothes I made my way to the Convention Center to pick up my badge, but not before wolfing down some delicious strawberry and sweet cream ice cream from the SouthBites lot and a couple tacos from a nearby food truck. Pro-tip: the best tacos come from trucks, hands-down.

Once at the Convention Center I zipped through the badge pickup line and made my way to a session hosted by Atlas Obscura, a blog known for highlighting some of the world’s most fascinating phenomena. Did you know there’s a hole in the Karakum desert of Turkmenistan that’s been on fire for 40 years called the Gates of Hell?

After Atlas Obscura I caught the tail-end of a session between Aminatou Sow (Vox Media), Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood), and David Karp (Tumblr) to hear their thoughts on social movements and allyship. It was an inspiring conversation filled with tips on how to best put action behind sensitive and valuable causes. Richards encouraged everyone to get involved with local causes, even if that means starting something yourself.

From there I ran to the Hilton Downtown for a session on the future of space law and what it means for our potential relationship with Mars. The discussion was a fascinating look at how historical precedent and the Space Race helped pave the way for important conversations we’ll need to have within the next hundred years if we want to seriously consider life on Mars.

After that panel I ventured out towards 6th street in downtown Austin where most of the city’s life lives. I managed to pop by National Geographic’s Further Base Camp right in time to catch the end of a talk with the incredible photographer Cory Richards! He talked about mountain-climbing in Burma, what it means to be a photographer for National Geographic, and his aspirations for changing the world. Hearing him talk about his trek through jungles and across mountaintops was inspiring – I might have to go buy some grappling hooks….

After that I started to feel the jetlag kicking in so I strolled the streets for a while and grabbed a doughnut from the famous Voodoo Doughnuts – a must if you’re in Austin. From there I took the scenic walk back towards my apartment, passing by Showtime’s American Gods installation and a variety of street performers. I walked up and down Rainey Street, taking note of parties to scope out over the course of the weekend, and brought my day full-circle with another plate of tacos from a different food truck a few minutes away. Needless to say I’m typing this from the comfort of my bed, with a full stomach and a growing list of to-dos for tomorrow already. Onwards!

Madison Seely Corporate Communications Associate DDB North America