Rite of Passage on Austins ‘Dirty’ 6th

As most of you know Austin Texas has been on the up n up for at least 10 years now. Things like ‘Austin is the next Silicon Valley ‘ (eek! but Wow! all at the same time) to ‘Its the Next biggest Boom Town in the U.S.’ to ‘Austin’s Inheriting Inequality’ have all been said. Austin is ‘The Live Music Capital of the World’ and is ranked #1 by Forbes as ‘The Best City for Jobs’ which means we see continuos growth from year to year (actually day by day) as people flock to Austin for SXSW and ACL (then either dont leave or move here soon after) and for jobs in the ever growing software industry, where the ‘S’ in Standard software companies – Microsoft, Google, Apple, & Orcale – have offices.

Obviously with all this BOOM BOOM BOOM! brings people People PEOPLE! Transplants from Cali, New York, Michigan, Indy, London, Russia, Australia, Central America, Mexico, and the list goes on and on and on and on….

As a Native Austinite (like literally Native i was born at Seton Hospital on 38th St., lived my first 18 years at the same house i was taken home to 6 weeks after i was born, went to high school on the South Side at David Crockett High School, went to college at St. Ed’s, and lived the majority of my adult years in South Austin (used to be called Far South Austin) – i just recently moved ‘North’) i cant deny that i have benefited from this growth, i enjoy all the new restaurants, night life, my job and all the events but one of the things that plagues me the most is when i hear people who are new to Austin call 6th St. ‘Dirty Sixth’, then ask ‘What is the point of 6th St.? No one goes there’, tthheennn proceeds to bad-mouth its existence and the people who still go there. This is like literally putting a iron-hot brand to my heart because if you grew up here or lived here for at least 15 years you dont call it that.

So when that convo starts, here is where i chime, trying not to show my fuming frustration and explain –

the Rite of Passage of 6th St:

  1. 6th St. is where every teenager and College student wanted to be, yearned and dreamed of going as soon as they could. Its the reason why we took the risk of getting a fake id (yup, i had one), it was the Time Square of Austin – the lights, the bars, the endless opportunity to meet people, experience Life, and above all else to dance the night away to an endless array of Music. 6th was, in its form, all there was, until the Warehouse District popped off (according to the Austonian – 2005, but it think it was more like 2001-03, Austonian Blog)
  2. It was The Starting off Point for any up n’ coming band. It was where the Music scene was. There was no ACL or SXSW for bands or DJ’s to showcase themselves. 6th Bars and Clubs (and the bars on the side streets) was where musicians had residencies, places like Flamingo Cantina, Antone’s, La Zona Rosa, The Ritz (wwwaayyy before it was a movie theater), Liberty Lunch, Buffalo Billiards and The Parish.
  3. You hadnt lived life until you had a Flaming Dr. Pepper at Cheers, had a burger at Casino El Camino, heard the dueling piano’s at Pete’s, listened to Blues at The Black Cat, listened to Jazz at The Elephant Room (before they banned smoking in Austin Bars), danced to House at Texture (that was more like 2000/2001, puked your brains out in some alley, saw one of your friends puke their brains out in some alley, pee’d in some alley, saw one of you friends (male or female) pee in some alley, and sat on the curb outside Roppolos Pizzeria eating your slice of Pepperoni and watching a street fight -all on 6th.

So to our new/new-ish Austinites: please keep in mind that Austin is going thru growth spurts, that pre-2000 we were still as seemingly small city and that there was no Warehouse District, no ‘Eastside’ (ill save that rant for another blog), no SoCo (Congress was XXX Movies (2000 Article on Cinema West) and resident downtown Prostitutes (just google it), SoCo’s saving grace was Trophy’s which is no longer), and that ‘Dirty’ 6th is one of the primary reasons you are here..

Just as all cities, we must respect the history, and the places and things that make the city what it is.

*side note: i have to pay homage to the other venues  like The Back Room, Emos, Coppertank, TheSaxon Pub, & The Hole in the Wall..

Blog on Austins Lost Venues

Austin Chronicle Article on The Back Room

Blog on Austin Memories



disclaimer: photos taken from google, i do not own or claim to own these photos.


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