Waller Ballroom. 700 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701
Visited 3/17/17 @ 5:30pm.
Gin and tonic. Waterloo gin, tonic. $8.
One gin and tonic, two tonics with gin
Once each was done, I got one again
The more I drank, the better they tasted
Before I knew it, I'd gotten wasted
Eight dollars was steep, but I'd pay it once more
Drinks cost during South By, it's what you're in for
Waterloo's smooth, a great go-to liquor
And compared to a beer, you get drunk way quicker
At festival time, you drink what you find
Don't expect top-shelf, mid-range is just fine
I have no regrets, it's my favorite mixed drink
Just watch out for cops, upstream's the the precinct!
Aaron, Ryan, Travis (not pictured), Rome (not pictured), Geoff (not pictured), Cat (not pictured), Eliah (not pictured), Tim (not pictured), Jacob (not pictured).
Waller Ballroom is a special event venue that's not normally open to the public, even though it sort of violates the spirit of the "ever bar" pledge. However, I wanted to watch some bands cover-free and drink with friends, since it was both SXSW at St. Patrick's Day, so I swallowed my scruples and chased them down with the first of several G&Ts. I was originally planning to put my journey on hold during SXSW - much as I love the festival, the deluge of tens of thousands of people from out of town changes the balance of the street, in the same way that a rush of saltwater makes a riparian environment too brackish for freshwater species. Since repeated reciprocity is the foundation of trust, a sudden influx of outlanders can make bartenders hunker down into "festival mode", where you're lucky to get more than a grunt and a beer shoved at you before the next person barges in for their own round. Happily, that was not the case here, as I got my drinks at just the right rhythm to accompany the pace of the shoegaze bands chugging their way to the appreciative crowd.
Waller Ballroom is right alongside Waller Creek, with all the good and bad that that entails. In the excellent anthology Literary Austin, there's a moving piece from Joseph Jones about Waller Creek during the 70s that makes it sound like an oasis of calm in the downtown area, full of interesting flora and fauna, and an underappreciated link to the rare natural heritage of Austin that made it so attractive to those settlers in 1839 when the city was founded (Edwin Waller, the man who surveyed Austin and served as its first mayor, was sent by President Mirabeau Lamar to locate a new capital away from the coast, which was dominated by Sam Houston and his loyalists). In contrast, these days Waller Creek is mainly known as a convenient latrine for drunk college students on UT campus, and as a flume of garbage and waste picked apart by scavenging hobos in order to be finally jettisoned into Town Lake near the boathouse. The Ballroom offers a nice patio to stand outside and watch whatever's going on in the stream named after our city father, but be warned that not all the sights and sounds of the creek are equally pastoral.