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06 October . 2016

Keeping Austin Weird – a newcomers guide to Austin’s weirdness

Many reports show Austin as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, but no way is Austin sacrificing its weird, quirky culture to the altar of economic growth.

Led by the spirit of cross-dressing mascot Leslie Cochran, the thriving Keep Austin Weird movement is in fact one of the major reasons why talented, free-spirited people from all over the nation are flocking to Austin.

While Leslie passed away in 2012, his/her spirit lives on in many weird incarnations. A few examples:

  • Thong Guys. A few cyclists in Austin are keeping Leslie’s tradition alive by riding bikes around town wearing nothing but thongs. No surprise, warm weather months are the most likely times to catch a coveted thong sighting. 

  • Roller Derby. There are several groups devoted to raucous women’s roller derby in Austin, including the Texas Rollergirls and Rockin’ City Rollergirls. With names like Dusty Doublewide and Loretta Sin, these ladies kick major butt to the crowds’ delight.

  • Chicken Sh*t Bingo. One of the most popular places to see this uniquely Austin sport is at the Little Longhorn Saloon. On Sundays, enjoy cheap Lone Star beer and live music while waiting for a chicken to drop a hot one on your number.

  • Cathedral of Junk. This funky South Austin junk emporium proves that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Almost undetectable from the street, the cathedral is a hollow framework packed will all kinds of castoffs such as car bumpers, ladders and bottles.  Learn more... 

  • Lala’s Bar. For Christmas 365 days a year, head out to this North Austin dive, where the holiday decorations are always up, and there’s often live music and all manner of weirdness on tap. See their Facebook page here

Austin’s weirdness has even spawned a scholarly book, “Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas.” Well-received by locals, this serious text describes how Austin has preserved its unique culture and personality even as it has grown dramatically in the past two decades.

Feeling weird yet? A couple of opportunities are coming up if you’d like to get right in the middle of the Keep Austin Weird movement.

Every November, the cedar trees along the 360 Loop, aka Capital of Texas Highway, sprout holiday decorations are bright, colorful, and often, gloriously tacky and weird. From pink taffeta ribbon to plastic Christmas plates, nothing seems to be off bounds in this giant-sized Austin holiday tradition. Find a tree and join the fun!