200 Ryans Converge Downtown to Celebrate Their Ryan-ness

Jumping on the Ryan Rodeo

illustration by Zeke Barbaro / Getty Images

Skeptical passersby peer into the bustling bar, barely lit by the late afternoon February sun. It’s too early for the typical Saturday night crowd on Austin’s Dirty Sixth Street. But not too early for Ryans.

Inside, past a folding table splayed with Ryan-themed T-shirts, tote bags, stickers, and hats, dozens of people mingle. Paper signs on wooden posts read: “IS YOUR NAME RYAN?”

The giggling, dark-haired bouncer confirms what onlookers suspect: “It’s a meetup. For Ryans.”

About 200 people of all ages and genders gathered at Buck Wild in late February for the Ryan Rodeo, the eighth free event hosted by the Ryan Meetup group. Members of the nationwide club share a common first name (Ryan, Ryann, Rion, or Rian) and a simple desire to meet other Ryans. Austin’s country-themed meetup featured a mechanical bull riding contest, a Ryan-themed photo booth, a merchandise table, arcade games, and live music from a band called Ryan Hunter.

Legal paperwork and a ballpoint pen sat carefully on a wooden barrel at the entrance to the bar, offering any non-Ryan guest the opportunity to change their name.

“It’s a surreal experience going to a Ryan meetup,” said Ryan Fisher, 41, who traveled from Ohio to Austin for his third event. “And what’s cool about it is that you have at least two things in common. The first thing is your name: Ryan. The second thing is: You're weird enough to come to a Ryan meetup.”

“What’s cool about it is that you have at least two things in common. The first thing is your name: Ryan. The second thing is: You’re weird enough to come to a Ryan meetup.”

Fisher donned a hot pink cowboy hat and Western shirt, thrifted from Buffalo Exchange the morning he arrived. He said the hat was a perfect sequel to the pink baseball cap he wore at both his previous Ryan meetups, the Ryan Rave in Los Angeles and Rytoberfest in New York City.

“It’s a cool community of Ryans, so I like spreading the word,” Fisher said. “My friends and family know about it. My coworkers know about it. I actually did a presentation about Ryan meetups at a local bar last week.”

Ryan Cruz, 35, a first-time attendee from San Antonio, splits from a huddle of chatting Ryans and hops onto the red, white, and blue inflatable ring of the mechanical bull. Like Fisher, Cruz discovered Ryan Meetup on Instagram and asked his wife if he could attend an event.

“I would send the Instagram reels to my family, like, ‘Can you believe they actually do this?’ I was following consistently,” Cruz said. “And when I heard about the rodeo a few months ago, I thought, ‘No way this is happening 60 miles down the road from me.’”

photo by Athena Hawkins

Co-founded last year by three Ryans in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Ryan Meetup currently boasts more than 14,500 followers on its Instagram page. The profile chronicles past events with action-packed snapshots and short videos. Cartoon-style flyers promote future meetups at locations across the country.

Ryan Rose, 27, flits about the bar in short black-and-white cowboy boots, snapping pictures with her camera. Fisher calls Rose “the original Ryan,” but she insists the group wouldn’t have taken off with her effort alone.

Looking to make new friends in New York City, Rose said the idea for Ryan Meetup came to her “sort of overnight.” She posted 15 paper flyers around her neighborhood with a link to an Instagram profile. It gained 80 followers in just two weeks.

“I just wanted people to be walking down the street and see the flyer and the word ‘Ryan’ really big and walk up closer. Like, ‘Huh!’” Rose said.

Rose decided to host the first meetup at a local bar in February 2023. Only two other Ryans showed up.

But those Ryans – Ryan Cousins and Ryan Le – helped Rose grow the platform by the thousands. A year later, Le’s parents shuffle behind the merchandise table at the rodeo, sporting “Ryan’s Mother” and “Ryan’s Father” tees, selling “No Bryans Allowed” hats to guests hailing from Las Vegas to Vancouver.

Small clusters of chatting partygoers – most clutching beers, some sipping colorful cocktails – coalesce near the entrance to the mechanical bull. Friendly prods and pats on the back encourage one Ryan after another to challenge the bucking machine.

A one-word chant swells over the band’s twangy rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” as each contender rides: “RYAN! RYAN! RYAN! RYAN!”

Ryan Lefurgey, 23, clings to the bull for seven seconds before falling with a grin. Lefurgey, who quickly earned the moniker “Canadian Ryan,” drove nearly 150 miles from Vancouver to Seattle, before hopping on a four-hour flight to Austin for his first Ryan meetup.

“I'm a little bit of an introvert,” Lefurgey said. “You know, talking to new people and trying to make new friends, it's not super easy for me. I'm not the most outgoing person.”

But Lefurgey strides easily across the cement floors of the bar, wearing his name tag like a badge of honor. He impresses dozens of other Ryans with his travel story, even snapping selfies and exchanging phone numbers with his new friends.

“It took two seconds before I was talking to other Ryans and introducing myself. You know, ‘Hi, I’m Ryan.’ ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Ryan.’ ‘Hey, have you met my friend Ryan?’”

“It just blew whatever expectations I had out of the water,” Lefurgey said. “It took two seconds before I was talking to other Ryans and introducing myself. You know, ‘Hi, I’m Ryan.’ ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Ryan.’ ‘Hey, have you met my friend Ryan?’”

Ryan Rose bounces up to the mic as the last competitor slips off the mechanical bull. She awards a chestnut-colored leather belt with a silver buckle to the longest-riding Ryan. He raises it above his head with both hands, flashing the engraved title: “Ryan Rodeo Champion.”

Lefurgey earns a golden, handshake-shaped trophy reserved for the farthest-traveling Ryan. He holds the award up to his cheek, posing for a photo with a pink-haired Ryan known by frequent meetup attendees as “Vegas Ryan.”

The Ryans round themselves into a packed crowd at the back of the bar for a group photo. Moments after the camera flashes, Vegas Ryan hoists himself into the air. Dozens of hands shoot up to catch his body, then raise it even higher. He crowd-surfs to the tune of whoops, cheers, and country music.

The lead singer of the Ryan Hunter band raises an empty beer can above his head, a toast before his final song.

"Tonight's not the only night that we get to be Ryans,” he declares. “And that’s a damn good thing, right?”

Most of the rodeo attendees trickle out of Buck Wild as the night crowd rolls in, but a few still-energetic Ryans plan an unofficial after-party. They select a nearby bar for its DJ.

His name is Ryan.

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Ryan Meetup, Ryan Rose, Ryan Rodeo, Ryan Hunter

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