The Austin Chronicle

Eastern Rock

Beauty Ballroom and Emo's East are changing the game down by Riverside

By Abby Johnston, August 24, 2012, Features

To your average student, the Eastside is best known for its tacos, but the rebirth of two former Red River staples has Riverside Drive on the edge of a major overhaul. Emo's East, which opened last September, is a far cry from its original Sixth and Red River location. With towering ceilings and a 1,700- capacity room (a increase of 700 from the old Downtown Emo's), the new space is suited to host rowdy punk bands as readily as house DJs, with space for everyone to breathe. But the reincarnated venue still holds the same swagger as its parent, with familiar bleachers pushed against the back wall, just like in the old digs, and a penchant for making things loud.

In late January, just a stone's throw from the Emo's music warehouse, the glitzy Beauty Ballroom opened its doors on a show-by-show basis. This petite, yet ample, midsize club caps out at 750 patrons, making for a more intimate experience than its neighbor and serving as a showcase for up-and-coming local and national acts. Its glitter-encrusted walls preserve the lush kitsch of Red River's bygone Beauty Bar, but expands the space with a roomy balcony. And the expansion doesn't stop there.

"We have a wish list at the office with all the things we want to do, ways to improve everything from sound quality to what is hanging on the walls," says Ross Bennett, who handles marketing for the two clubs. "Slowly but surely, we will start crossing things off."

With this newly bumping block, Riverside is beginning to draw Downtown crowds just a few minutes southeast, a savvy shift in direction for an area known for its abundant student housing. "We have the opportunity to create an Austin district with good vibes and cool things to do," Bennett says. "Music is what we are good at, and this is the foundation." Plus, they still have bomb-ass tacos.

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