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2nd downtown club plans East Riverside location; is city's music scene drifting that way?

Gary Dinges

Is Austin's music scene starting to drift a little to the east?

Just months after Emo's set up shop on East Riverside Drive, another club is set to open in the same area.

The Beauty Bar, which has been in business for five years on East Seventh Street, said it will soon debut a second location — this one to be called the Beauty Ballroom — at 2015 E. Riverside Drive, the former home of Club Zocalo.

The Beauty Ballroom will be just a few doors down from where Emo's, a fixture on Red River Street for two decades, opened its doors on East Riverside Drive this summer.

With rents in the city's central business district rising, more music venues will probably wind up in East Austin, said Rich Garza, a member of the Austin Music Commission.

"It's a strategic play reacting to how hard it is to operate downtown," he said. "That's really one of the last places you can go."

Lower rents and a number of high-end apartment projects in the works make East Riverside Drive an attractive option, Garza said.

"That neighborhood is rapidly changing," Garza said. "The development is going upscale."

Beauty Bar partner Bart Butler said the owners of Emo's helped persuade him to move his club east of Interstate 35.

"This all came together in just a few months," Butler told the American-Statesman.

"Having a neighboring bar will be great for Emo's and great for the community," said Ross Bennett, who handles marketing for Emo's. "We hope to start building this area as a destination spot, and having Emo's East and the Beauty Ballroom as the foundation is a great start."

Sarah Mays lives in the area and said she welcomes the new additions.

"Riverside needs something," she said. "It'll bring revenue to the area."

Mays relies on Capital Metro to get around and said bus schedules often make it hard to catch nighttime shows.

"Everybody has to have fun sometimes, and downtown is just too far," she said.

Beauty Ballroom is scheduled to open Dec. 31 with a show by Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma.

Its focus, Butler said, will be on attracting national and international touring acts.

"We're definitely casting a wider net with the audience we're trying to reach," he said. "I want anybody to be able to walk in there and have fun."

The dance floor at the new club can accommodate 500 people, and a balcony has room for 200 more. An outdoor patio will seat 200, as well.

As many as 25 employees will be hired to staff the new location, Butler said.; 912-5987