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Michael Barnes

Summer parties with Austin friends

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Nothing turns formal in Austin during the summer. Our recent social exploits centered around good friends and simple good times.

At Central Standard, the urban spot on the north side of the South Congress Hotel, we met up with entrepreneur and philanthropist Monica Peraza and a birthday crowd currently associated with the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Over tasty fare such as Waygu Tatare and Steak Chips, we spent hours with Patsy Woods MartinLynn Yeldell, Alisa Weldon, Liz Arreaga and Raquel Garcia. Guess who was at the next table? A fabulous threesome: Maria GrotenKaren Hawkins and Val Armstrong.

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Karen Hawkins, Maria Groten and Val Armstrong at Central Standard.

The next night, we returned to the hotel — we live close by — to take drinks with “the boys,” Bill Lavallee and Forrest Hooper, the couple we profiled when they got married after 59 years of romantic partnership. The pair, who grew up in the Upper Midwest, but spent their adult lives in California, Hawaii, Texas and Florida, know how to live. In their eighties, they still can make any get-together a frolic. And if you haven’t see the cute video by Kelly West, hit the link above.

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Bill Lavallee and Forrest Hooper at South Congress Hotel Bar.

You know, we love this hotel’s lobby bar and its with-it crowd, but when it’s full, it’s loud. Gotta remember that.

We went back to the hotel two more times this week, once for a coffee date at Mañana, the new, slender stylish shop at the back, and anther time for confab with colleagues over more cocktails and/or cherry cokes at the lobby bar. I’m liking this place.

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Magda Alanis at Dress for Success Austin.

We didn’t have too many social/business meetings this week, but one, at Dress for Success Austin on Tillery Street, was an eyeopener. I learned from program and volunteer manager Mia Johns and program graduate, now ambassador, Magda Alanis, about how much of their work in not just dressing women for job interviews, but teaching them financial literacy, resume writing, even health and nutrition.

When I asked — we’re bingeing on “Transparent” at home — if they’d served trans clients, the answer was yes, about a dozen. They make sure their style consultation are private and with a knowing helper. The group, which runs on about a quarter million in grants and donations a year, has trouble, however, keeping shoes and dresses that fit those special clients.