“Whatever you gotta do to get in.”
That’s the mantra of Austin DJ/photog/scenester-of-the-year Miguel Angel, who is building a sort of online academy of SXSW party crashers using the #sxswcheats hashtag on Twitter and Facebook posts featuring his secrets for getting into exclusive events.
Combining frank humor (best example: “Be single”) with Ocean’s Eleven-level cunning, the posts draw on Angel’s experience at six previous SXSW fests and his year-round occupation as a nightlife photographer and music festival regular.
The prime motivation behind all of the “cheats” is simple: that regular music fans deserve to score free drinks and rub elbows with famous musicians and movie stars — even if they’re not super connected.
At a certain level, Angel’s cheats (and those of others who’ve offered up their own) are appealing because they’re easy. Like the one advising would-be crashers to buy different colors of “keep this coupon” tickets from a party supply story to pass off as drink tickets to busy bartenders.
“Right away I started getting responses from people with South By or from bar owners — especially for the one about the drink tickets,” Angel, 27, said. “I might get in trouble, but I don’t care. They were really mad about that one because that’s the same deal as with wristbands, where you can buy all kinds of different wristband [ahead of time] so you’re set.”
“I might get in trouble, but I don’t care. . .I’m going to put it all out there and save the best ones for when South By gets closer." - Miguel Angel
A Del Rio, Texas native, Angel came to Austin after a four-year stint in the Marines that took him to Iraq, Japan and South Korea, during which time he built up his skills as a photographer.
Attracted by the city’s nightlife and entertainment offerings, he went legit for his first SXSW in 2007 — “bought a wristband and was waiting in line like everyone else, and couldn’t get into anything” — before figuring out how to game the festival that brings thousands of musicians and millions of corporate promotional dollars to Austin every March.
Whether it be a simple, humanistic gesture like offering water or a breakfast taco or a weary doorman or the devious move of crafting a fake text message from a party promoter to gain admittance, Angel’s cheats have all been wildly successful and he hopes the movement he’s started will have as much luck as he has.
“I’m going to put it all out there and save the best ones for when South By gets closer,” he said. “I started the hashtag because I want people to be tweeting stuff that works for them to get in. People can say that 'The VIP wristband for the Spin party is this color, so if you have it, show up and get in.’”
The great irony of Angel’s cheat tweets might be that he no longer has to use them himself. Because of his photography work and reputation as DJ ulovei, he’s typically working for top-level party promoters during SXSW and doesn’t need to hustle or outsmart anybody to get into the hottest spots.
But he has some essential advice for those hoping to use his tricks of the trade to get behind velvet ropes and past block-long lines: “If you’re in the artist or VIP area and you’re really not supposed to be there, it’s obvious and everyone knows right away. People find out and they’ll kick you out, so have someone like a guitarist with a the band who’s going to vouch for you."
"It’s all about the confidence," Angel says. "They can see it in your face if you’re supposed to be there or not, so look the part.”