Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas We're Keeping Austin Weird

Upon our return from San Antonio, I bid Arielle a temporary goodbye, and settled in for a few days checking out Austin. Now, I've been to Austin on family trips, and on school trips, and I went there when I interviewed for the English teacher job in Japan. I also went there as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention, which was great fun. But I had yet to experience the heart of Austin night life- bar hopping 6th Street. My cousin, Mel, and her family had recently moved to the area, and the trip to Texas was the perfect time to see their new house and let them show me a good time out on the town. But first, Mel and I had a good old fashioned girls' day, catching up, eating Taco Cab, and shopping for unnecessary clothes.

 Sweet, delicious, cheap Tex-Mex. Oh Colorado. You are surely a wasteland when it comes to anything to do with Mexican food. Dear salsa bar at Taco Cab- relocate. I'm tired of making my own.

 We hit up Ross, which is always unintentionally entertaining. Case in point- eww. These jeans should never, ever have been made.
 On the other hand, Mel was able to experience the glory of HD glasses. She took them off and said "I wish I could wear them, always". Damn you, Ross. We DO love it.
 She took me by their favorite local ice cream shop. I was generously allowed to sample whatever I wanted- I hate it when an ice cream shop offers samples but then shames you for taking them up on the offer. My motto is- do not offer unless you are going to come through with a smile. This place delivered.
It is hot in Texas. Ice cream is a necessary food group to protect one's health.
 We stayed up late that night eating chips and salsa, catching up, laughing and talking and making plans for the weekend. The next day Melanie was a blessed angel and allowed me to sleep in until NOON. Oh, glorious noon. We lazed about the rest of the day, and then we headed out to Polvos to meet up with Arielle and her friends. Let me just say, if you have never been to Polvos, go. You won't regret it.

Mel and Josh
On the walk to Polvos we cut through an alley. I noticed the light was great, so we snapped some shots.
Allow me to get sappy here- I'm super lucky to have such a great cousin. I'm grateful that our dads were so close so that we were always around one another growing up. In our family "cousin" isn't too far from "sibling". I wouldn't have it any other way.
Walking up to Polvos after the alley way photo shoot, we were unaware of the epic food that was about to enter our lives.
Our feet are too hipster-licious fo' ya, babe. We were eating cupcakes, too, you just can't see our hands overlapping and holding them in adorable ways like hand models.
We waited patiently outside in an enormous crowd of would-be-patrons. I think I've figured out why I don't have 15 sponsors and 3,000+ followers- I clearly don't have enough pictures of my feet in cute shoes. Internet, I give you not one, not two, but FIVE pairs of waiting shoes! Blog success, here I come!
Everyone but me ordered margaritas while we waited, and our table freed up right as the pitcher came out. The perfection of Polvos was already in motion.
Arielle approves!

All sorts of salsa, all sorts of wonderful. My deep and abiding love for salsa variety continues.
Looking at this picture, I am tearing up a little bit as I realize that I can't go down the street and eat this. Poblano cream sauce should be a regular occurrence in my dinner time experiences. Life is sometimes so unfair.

Once we were all thoroughly stuffed, we parted ways with Arielle for the final time (tears!) and headed downtown. As luck would have it, a high school friend happened to be playing a show, and it ended up being a bit of a Brownwood High School reunion. Kind of random, and neither good nor bad. The show wrapped up, and we struck out to bar and club hop along 6th street.

The following pictures were all taken on my cheap-o LG decidedly NON smart phone. Apologies.
 We started off at the Blue Moon blues bar. An awesome band was playing, there wasn't a cover charge, and people were friendly and happy. +5 points for 6th street already, plus +10 points for the no cover charge. Dallas charges cover for everything, even just to dance. Here, I'm getting great blues in a chill atmosphere with nice friendly locals... for free? With no pressure to buy a drink? Yes, please.
 We went in a few random fun bars I can't remember the names of, and then we hit up this "swanky" club, that was totally empty at 11 p.m. Personally, I love random empty clubs because I don't need to be drunk or in a big group to dance. And you get to play around, as Melanie is illustrating above.

 Random little nooks that made me think that an 80's coke addict would be at home in them lined the walls.
 Upstairs we found a nice dusky dance floor, and the D.J. was excellent. Empty dance floor all to ourselves, with windows overlooking the pedestrian traffic below? You keep racking up the points, 6th street. We left that club and continued on our bar crawl way, and each new stop was enjoyable. They all had no cover, good music, dancing everywhere you went, and there was a refreshing lack of snobby clique-ish ness. For anyone familiar with the snottiness that permeates so much of the nightlife in Dallas, you know what I mean by that.
 We wrapped up the night dancing on the rooftop at the Blind Pig, and around 2 a.m. we headed home. This picture is a great example of the huge difference between Dallas and Austin nightlife. Austin shuts down 6th street and only allows foot traffic. This makes going out a lot safer, and also fosters a block party feel where random strangers are pretty friendly. There was also a surprising lack of drunken fights and cops arresting people. I felt safe, I wasn't heckled, harassed, or pawed at (all things that happen on the regular in clubs in Dallas). I danced with random French dudes who were hilarious, struck up conversations with friendly girls, and danced my ass off everywhere we went. In Dallas, when you go out in Deep Ellum, the traffic and parking are horrible and there are random pockets of deserted warehouses that are the perfect environment in which to get assaulted (that's not an exaggeration, things have gotten hairy for me a few times in downtown Dallas, much as I love it). Even with my many years long history of late night fun in Deep Ellum, I was already converted to Austin after only one night. Good thing cities can't read blogs, or else Dallas might get her feelings hurt...
This random guy jumped in the picture with me.
We found our way back to the car, I DD'd us home, and I crashed out at about 3 a.m. The next morning Mel was sick, so I accompanied Josh to a family picnic in Zilker Park and then headed out to Brownwood. I have to say, Austin won me over. It didn't even feel like I was in Texas, in a good way. 

Of course, the oppressive heat reminded me I was, in fact, in Texas. Driving a few hours to Brownwood at around 2 p.m. in a car without air conditioning was the opposite of enjoyable. I was double fisting water and Gatorade the whole way, because I truly didn't want a heat stroke on the back roads of Texas to be part of my trip re-caps. I arrived at Mom's house covered in sweat, tired, and windblown. But I arrived without a heat stroke! It was really nice to be back in my hometown, hanging with Mom and Granny. After the breakneck pace of the previous week's socializing and late night partying I was more than ready to settle into easy nights on the back porch, eating Mom's delicious food, and watching the horses play in the back yard. 

Oh, and if you ever happen to find yourself in Brownwood, TX, I highly recommend Prima Pasta. I definitely enjoyed some of their Italian take out on the back porch, too.

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