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Out & About: One night in Austin packs a social punch

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

One night in Austin and the world’s your oyster.

It started at Max’s Wine Dive. The Houston-based eatery and drinkery has carved big-boned banquet rooms out of its basement on East Third Street. On Friday, one hall held the Austin Cellar Classic dinner. To my left were CultureMap Austin’s Kevin Benz and U.S. Money Reserve’s Olga Campos. We discussed the comparative merits of covering the U.S. Grand Prix from the track or waist deep in downtown parties. After one dish, we made our apologies and raced across downtown for …

The opening night of Ballet Austin’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” which drew a moderately dressy mass of dance lovers. They giggled and guffawed at artistic director Stephen Mills’ elegantly devised physical humor. We sat next to Cookie Ruiz, the ballet’s biz whiz, Meria Carstarphen, the school superintendent, and Brent Hasty, the arts education guru and Mills’ partner. A patron perked up Ruiz’s first intermission with an unexpected kindness inside a plain envelope, which I’ll let her reveal — or not. …

After the show, we swam through the humidity to the Swan Dive on Red River Street. There, we awaited the first-nighters for the Polari Fest’s centerpiece film, “Fourplay.” Quite the classy and contempo joint for the gay and lesbian fest’s 25th anniversary. We caught up with the festival’s board members and the artistic team behind “Fourplay,” a series of four short stories directed by Kyle Henry, formerly of Austin. …

Then we steered back down East Sixth Street, where the human tide swept us to and fro. Fresh tourists always remake Sixth Street, much maligned by locals, but still the electric core of Austin nightlife. It follows the rule of any lively urban center, being the only place where all classes and ages meet on the same social plane.