The Unfestival

12Not surprisingly most of what is written out there in the interwebs about music around this time has to do with SXSW, or the South by Southwest festival. For all those who do make it out there and “live blog” and twitter themselves away, there are millions that don’t show up in Austin. While those at SXSW are generally too busy twittering to actually listen to the music they are hyping before the hype, some that will not attend the event have started their own “Unfestival” if you will.


It works like this: log on to Twitter and tweet about whatever it is you’re doing instead of attending SXSW, whether it’s walking your girlfriend’s tiny dog, watching the World Baseball Classic or whale watching down in San Diego. Or even – if you can find one that’s not in Texas – seeing a band. Then add the Twitter handle #notatsxsw to your tweet. This allows to collate everything that people who are not at SXSW are doing, saying and thinking.

It all started with people moaning on Twitter about how the credit crunch/the stingy boss/the cloying partner/the band break-up, had scuppered their SXSW dreams. Americans Nate DeNiro and Alex H Williams picked up on this, created and the #notatsxsw tag after their own festival plans fell through, and it went viral. The collective whinging soon developed into camaraderie; the camaraderie grew and morphed into a community. That community then did what communities always do – it started to throw parties.

So what began as a tweet on Tuesday, has grown into #notatsxsw events in more than 20 locations worldwide, including London, New York, Wisconsin, Portland and Miami. More are being organised every day for people who suddenly aren’t so disappointed to be missing out on SXSW this year. If, much like Impossible City, you’re not at SXSW this year, check to find your nearest #notatsxsw shindig. Or start your own by adding #notatsxsw to a tweet.

As Utku Can, the organiser of London’s #notatsxsw bash accross the pond at Holborn’s swanky Sway club, says, “The #notatsxsw party needed the smallest of organisation – we booked a venue, the rest was crowd-sourced and spread on Twitter.” And so, with more #notatsxsw parties springing up every day, the scene is set for a spate of unfestivals and unconferences. Do not be too surprised if the hot tickets this year will be the Unapalooza, None of Tommorows Parties, and the UnSasquatch Festival.

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