To aid in my quest, Tinder supplied me with a Tinder Plus account, which allowed me to begin swiping before I arrived at any of the festival destinations. Unveiled in March 2015, Tinder Plus users can change their location to places where they geographically are not. It also gives them the ability to undo their last swipe and access to unlimited right swipes and super likes. Using this to my full advantage, I began laying the groundwork before actually landing, something that I thought would be beneficial heading into SXSW.
Staring back at me was profile after profile of bearded men holding dogs. A majority of my Austin matches took place during the festival itself, held March 11-20, and were dominated by music and tech-types and not dog-wielding lumberjacks. Overall, they took well to my requests for a bouquet of burritos and to get me into exclusive events. Often, they beat me to the punch in messaging first. Only once did someone take offense to my asking for dinner upon first matching. Can’t win them all, can we?
Due to the high volume of showcases and tight scheduling, I was unable to meet up with any potential charitable suiters. SXSW is a see-and-be-seen event, so if you weren’t at Drake’s surprise set or at the Calvin Klein party at the South Congress Hotel, I had no time—or WiFi—to coordinate plans for an IRL taco feast.
At SXSW, I received one marriage proposal and over 40 matches. According to festival numbers, over 30,000 participants attended official SXSW music showcases, almost 20,000 participated in the film conference, and over 37,000 people were in attendance during the interactive portion of the event. And that’s only taking into account those with festival passes. Many, including myself, came sans badge to partake in the unofficial and free shows. Further, regardless of event affiliation, 59,376 rooms were booked in 64 hotels and 14,095 individual reservations were tallied. With all those extra bodies congregating in Austin’s streets and hotel rooms came extra thumbs for right swiping. A staggering one million matches were made between March 11-20 in Austin, according to official data from Tinder. The company also gathered that app use was up 35 percent during SXSW as compared to a non-festival week. Considering an average of 26 million matches occur per day in 196 countries, Austin’s connections during these nine days accounted for about .4 percent of the world’s Tinder matches over the same time period.