SPORTS: This is more a intimate, manageable party than the Rodeo Austin Gala. The big dance in the spring takes up the vasty spaces of the Palmer Events Center. This BBQ, Auction and Dance, recently moved the fall, fits just right into the Austin Music Hall. In cowboy hats and an array of duds, guests munched on PoK-e-Jo’s tender offerings, bid on auction items — silent and live — and waited to scoot those boots. More than one Rodeo Austin insider told me that the group’s increased activity downtown, where the group got its start in the 1930s, was part of a longterm strategy that could bring even the main show back to the center of the region’s social action. Even though Austin is not always considered a prototypical Texan city, it is. A reminder that agriculture was Travis County’s biggest business as recently as the 1950s. And preserving Western culture is an important part of keeping Austin in touch with its roots.
NATURE: For almost the entire stroll, I was the only soul on Waller Creek. The Waller Creek Conservancy had extended the hours for the “Creek Show: Night Light” through Saturday. One family with kids greeted me in the dark at the southern terminus of a procession of vertical lamps. The rest of the time, I was on my own. The reflective walk reminded me of two things. First, how much monumental stonework went into spanning the creek during the 1930s, and how much decorative effort was devoted to beautify the waterway during the 1970s. All, of course, aimed at matching San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk, without the advantages of advanced flood control. Secondly, I flashed back to the early 1980s, when I’d wander the creek at night, amazed that nobody else dared. Never stumbled on any trouble. But I got by on that kind of dumb luck for decades. For more on the light show, see Jeanne Claire van Ryzin‘s column.
NIGHTLIFE: The costumes ranged from intentionally risible to outrageous. Even without a party, Forklift Danceworks is a supremely approachable company that builds community well beyond the realm of dance lovers. Founder Allison Orr has found, not just inspiration from, but lasting connection to waste retrieval workers, utility employees and baseball players, turning their everyday activities into ephemeral beauty. Alongside that laudable work is the socializing. The group’s dance parties, which revive the nightlife of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, are hugely popular. Of course, there are those of us who actually remember those nights, but the first on the dance floor are always youths who couldn’t possibly recall much before 1995. It’s as if, in my younger days, I’d jump out to dance to 1920s, ’30s or ’40s music. Oh wait … Justine’s Brasserie provided the novel munchies and Ilios Lighting the sophisticated light show.