Some people really hit the festival circuit hard. “I’m going to need an IV,” we say over our third brunch in a row. It sounds funny, but why not? The CultureMap Austin editors heard about a deal for South by Southwest (SXSW) badge holders, so we stopped by The DripBar (stylized The DRIPBaR) at The Domain to learn what it takes, and how much it helps.
There were no other patrons there at our 11 am appointment except one visitor in the personal sauna. (Relaxers stop by to choose their own temperature, plug in their tunes, dress as they see fit, and maybe even get some work done.) This was good news for us, seated in a communal treatment area in big, white arm chairs with drink or snack trays and ottomans.
Our orientation — very unlike the dramatic introduction video I watched a year ago to enter a sensory deprivation tank — was almost as easy as choosing a smoothie, and not much different nutritionally, either. We signed two short forms and took a look at the 20-IV drip menu, organized by effect and ingredients, which include lots of over-the-counter vitamins and supplements, plus a few more intensive add-ins.
The menu is divided into “lifestyle” and “health support” drips, plus a few quick shots that we didn’t try. (One of these uses semaglutide, better known branded as Ozempic, currently causing shortages as an off-label Hollywood weight loss hack that concerns some experts.) The lifestyle drips address needs like hangovers and jet lag, while the health support drips address issues like recent cancer treatments or a family history of dementia.
Most of the latter require lab testing. An in-house doctor (currently an emergency room doctor) mixes the necessary cocktails, often as prescribed by other doctors. Visitors may even pay with an Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) depending on insurance.
Our picks were much simpler, and we both opted for more relaxing, recovery-based drips. I chose “Soother,” a recipe of vitamin C, magnesium, B12, and B-complex; Hannah got “Restoration,” which included all the same ingredients, plus glutathione, an antioxidant.
These vitamins are all water-soluble, meaning that our bodies can easily eliminate anything we overestimated a need for, so the stakes aren’t that high. It does appear possible to take too much magnesium or glutathione, but these supplements are also sold at grocery stores, safe to take without a consultation.
I chose “Soother” mostly because my muscles have not been loving walking miles every day while holding a computer, water bottle, snacks, and more in a backpack. Magnesium offers energy as well as improved muscle function, and I have been privy to discussions among contortionists about taking magnesium glycinate as part of heavy flexibility training. The DripBar menu addresses “tense muscles and a tense mind” in this offering’s description.
After we sat down (I grabbed a popcorn snack and some Perrier), a nurse inserted the cannula, which pinched vaguely more than, say, a flu shot and quickly became unnoticeable. I couldn’t feel the yellow liquid entering my arm, and I didn’t have to squeeze periodically, as if giving blood.
In fact, I didn’t know it had started at all until I noticed the cool feeling of the tube against my arm. I’m not proud of this, but I looked up at the bag and wondered why I couldn’t taste the lemon flavor I’d subconsciously assigned it.
Our appointment took a little longer than many would, first because we were chatting with the staff and owner, and then because one of our bags stopped flowing due to a “rolling vein” — basically, the vein evaded the needle stick the first time — which took us quite a while to notice. It was an easy fix, and we spent about an hour and a half from start to finish.
Hannah didn’t feel much from her infusion, but my results were strong and immediate. First, I felt like I do when I take more CBD than I need: not quite sleepy, but pleasantly dulled to the external world. By the time I stood up, a large amount of my muscle soreness had melted away, although I hadn’t noticed it happening. I did a quick split to test it out — the new pair of patients that joined us were not amused — but it felt good, and definitely not like I’d expect after four days of buses and walking.
I am still a little skeptical that I could feel a difference in my muscles after sitting 20-30 minutes after a completed infusion. Placebo or not, I got a break from running around, know I’m starting my day hydrated, and feel empowered to try this positive, low-effort experience again, should I ever go way too hard at a festival again. So, October, probably. See you there.
DripBar is offering SXSW wristband or badge holders, or visitors who present a hotel key card, $50 off any lifestyle drip of their choice (usually $224), recommending “Powerpack” for an energy boost or “Restoration” after a night of drinking. The deal also offers a $99 hydration drip, which includes a complimentary 20-minute session in the Halo Infrared Salt Sauna. More information is available at thedripbar.com.