Hello, what’s up, and welcome to the February monthly edition of the Lite + Brite newsletter.
We have a jam-packed newsletter this month, complete with 34 intriguing-looking February events (including two chili cook-offs—what are the odds??) as well as a brand-new, hard-hitting interview with the producers of Hyde Park Storytelling, one of our favorite local events. (Ok, fine, it’s not that hard-hitting, but it is still fascinating!) This is also your first of many notices that we’re hosting a subscriber meetup and an evening of YouTubes at Bobo’s Snack Bar on February 25th. If you’re reading this, you are invited!
If you’re not already a subscriber to this newsletter and you want to be, click here. We send out one email a week, usually on Fridays, plus this bonus monthly edition around the start of each month. Please support us by contributing to our Patreon and by forwarding this email to your friends who enjoy things like listening to music and leaving the house sometimes.
Let’s do fun stuff!
—Leila + Brian
Looking Ahead to Upcoming Events
Our weekly newsletters will include many more listings, but here are a handful of events that we know will be coming up over the next month. We’re giving you the heads up now in case you want to pre-buy tickets or block off the time.
- Feb 1-4: Fusebox Presents: FOOD at the McCullough Theatre
Food: it’s not just a thing we eat. Now it’s also an immersive dinner party experience
- Feb 2: It’s Groundhog Day!… Again at ColdTowne
A comedic show reimagining one of our favorite films of all time
- Feb 2 – 3: Texas Spirit Gathering at First Spiritualist Church of Austin
Lectures on the history of spiritualism + the occult from here in Texas
- Feb 3: Black History Kick-Off Block Party at the Carver Museum
“Interactive arts + crafts,” vendors, + vinyl musical selections
- Feb 4: 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off at Jo’s Coffee
Judge + eat chili + debate the existence of chili w/beans
- Feb 6: Lunar New Year at UMLAUF
Celebrate lunar New Year w/traditional Asian music, dance, also karaoke
- Feb 7: Visit the World of Baldur’s Gate at the Museum of Human Achievement
Tour lesser known spots in the year’s most beloved virtual fantasy locales
- Feb 8: No Lights No Lycra Five-Year Anniversary at West China Tea
Five years of dancing in the dark! Think of all the electricity we’ve saved
- Feb 9: Love Bites at Cheer Up Charlie’s
Drag performers pay tribute to Twilight’s sparkly vampires
- Feb 9 – 10: Variations on a Love Theme at First Street Studio
Chamber musicians + ballet performers telling tales of love
- Feb 9 – 11: Amaging at the Vortex
Storytelling focusing on older members of Austin’s LGBTQIA+ community
- Feb 9 – 11: PrintEXPO at Blue Genie
Buy + view art prints by a wide array of printmakers
- Feb 10: Stupid Pet Tricks at Meanwhile Brewing
Pets doing tricks, adoptions, photo ops, pet centric vendors + activities
- Feb 10: Uncanny Attractions at Highland Lounge
“All-inclusive professional wrestling with a side of drag”
- Feb 10: House of Mab at Elysium
Live music, DJ, dark fantasy fashion dress code, + photo booth
- Feb 11: 48-Hour Sketch Showdowne at Coldtowne
Sketch comedians compete to come up with the best quickly written sketches
- Feb 12: Roller Rodeo Disco at Playland
Rollerskate to your favorite country songs w/the Neon Rainbows crew
- Feb 13 – 17: Frontera Fest “Best of the Fest” at Hyde Park Theatre
“Alternative, offbeat, new, and just plain off-the-wall fringe theatre”
- Feb 15: Enchanted Rock by Montopolis at the Bullock History Museum
Extended museum hours, art station, + multimedia storytelling
- Feb 15: The Love Lagoon at Laguna Gloria
“A night of art, karaoke, + romance”
- Feb 15 – 18: Outsider Fest at the Vortex
Film fest focusing on outsider “queerdo transmedia art”
- Feb 16: Boner Bizarre at Come and Take It Live
Burlesque + associated performers focus on the “perverse, grotesque, + socially unacceptable”
- Feb 16 – 18: Love Bites at House of Torment
Grab each other tightly at a Valentine’s-themed haunted house
- Feb 17: Come and Shave It at Sagebrush
Compete in or witness competitors in fun facial hair categories
- Feb 17: Embracing All Shades Everywhere at 2324 Studios
Celebrate Black History Month w/DJs, artists, + vendors
- Feb 22: No Lights No Lycra at West China Tea
Our very own dance party in the dark
- Feb 23 – 25: Nosferatu Festival at Kick Butt Coffee and Come and Take It Live
Celebrate the first horror/vampire film w/performers, contests, + vendors
- Feb 24: Byte Night at ColdTowne
Are humans better at puns than ChatGPT?
- Feb 24: Ryan Rodeo at Buck Wild
Rodeo exclusively for Ryans. I’m only one letter off, sadly
- Feb 24: Slam Portal at Blue Norther
Interdimensional comedic pro wrestling at its very finest
- Feb 25: Lite + Brite Meetup and BYOT (Bring YouTubes, OK? Thanks) at Bobo’s Snack Bar
A meetup for readers (you!) + a party where we watch some very good YouTubes
- Feb 25: Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off at the Sagebrush
A chili cook-off to raise cancer awareness + celebrate local musicians
- Feb 29: Undark: A Radioactive Puppet Play at the Vortex
Puppets perform a play about radioactivity, unfettered capitalism, + factories
- March 2: It’s My Park Day at public parks throughout Austin
Volunteer to improve parks across Austin
What We’re Listening to
This week a friend passed along this amazing vid from Mexican group Juanpalitoschinos, featuring a breezy, airy pop song that sounds like someone sent a modern day radio pop song back through the AM Gold era. The group namecheck city pop, the Japanese soft rock subgenera of the 80s, as an inspiration, and that puts them into similar (read: excellent) territory as California’s Ginger Root. Press play on this party machine and enjoy a smooth ride.
I included a couple Leanna Firestone songs in my 2023 favorites playlist, but I feel like she’s worth mentioning individually, too. Her lyrics get at something really fundamental about being a teenage girl (which I am not, personally, but I was at one point and sometimes it feels like my brain is still there). “All I want is world peace, and for everyone to like me all of the time. Is it too much to ask to be hot and never have to apologize?” Honestly, preach.
The Austinites Behind the Curtain: Hyde Park Storytelling
We love spotlighting local creatives who are responsible for the events that we list. Remember, there would be no pig parades, facial hair competitions, dance shows in quarries, or sound installations in tree houses without the individual people who organize and promote them. You can read some of our previous interviews on our website. In this month’s issue, we spoke with Matthew Stoner and Erin Givarz, the producers behind Hyde Park Storytelling.
L+B: How would you describe Hyde Park Storytelling to someone who’s never been?
HPS: Hyde Park Storytelling is a free cozy community event that feels like you’re in someone’s backyard. It’s a great place to meet friends or strangers as you listen to true personal stories told live on stage. It feels like old Austin: charming, friendly, and unique.
L+B: When and why did Hyde Park Storytelling start?
Erin: Hyde Park Storytelling started in 2014 in a backyard in Hyde Park. At the time Matthew and I were roommates and our first show had an audience of 30 people. Now, a decade later, we generally see crowds of up to 200-300 people and the event is held outside at Batch Craft Beer & in East Austin. We started HPS because of our shared interest in The Moth, and other media showcasing vulnerability and humanity, and we wanted to create a similar local experience bringing community together.
L+B: Every time we’ve been to a Hyde Park Storytelling event, it’s been packed. As event producers and promoters ourselves, we find that incredibly impressive. What’s your secret to getting a good audience turnout time after time?
HPS: Well, for one, our event is always free and open to the public. But I think anyone that has been to an event will tell you that it’s always our mission to create a welcoming, captivating, and inclusive vibe. We love providing the stripped-down experience of connecting storyteller and audience and we have learned to do that with a decade of experience. More than that, we believe every story matters and I think people crave the authenticity of everyday people telling sometimes banal stories about their lives—it’s in direct opposition to the over-filtered “best trip ever” social media posts we see.
We’ve never bought ads or put much effort into marketing. However, we’ve been fortunate to be tagged by prominent Instagram pages like When Where What, which has helped us reach new people and attract new storytellers.
L+B: What’s the most memorable or unexpected thing to ever happen at a Hyde Park Storytelling event?
HPS: Something we do before the show starts is try to go around and meet people. We ask them their names, how they found out about the show, and tell them where the bathrooms are. You know, hosts have to host! One thing led to another, and it turned out that an audience member was affiliated with Casey’s Snowballs. A few months later, Casey’s Snowballs was in our backyard in Hyde Park, selling and giving away their delicious shaved ice treats!
L+B: You don’t do much vetting of stories before they’re presented, right? You don’t do rehearsals with the storytellers, for example. Why did you make that choice, and how do you react when that results in stories being told that maybe you’re not personally so thrilled with (either in terms of topic or delivery)?
HPS: That’s correct! We don’t rehearse or even know what the stories will be about. The stories are always a surprise to us and the audience. We chose not to curate the stories to make our stage more accessible. Curating and rehearsing takes a lot of time, and in this go go go world, peoples time (and ours) is important!
We do offer tips to storytellers when they ask, and we know they often rehearse their stories themselves. However, we want the messiness of life to be reflected in their stories because life and all of its experiences are not curated, know what I mean?
We want regular people sharing their stories! Nothing brings us more joy than someone telling their story for the very first time in front of 250+ strangers.
When a story does eventually broach a sensitive topic, that’s an assumed risk we take. Sometimes, that’s just life, you know? If a story crosses a line, we have procedures in place to address it. We talk to all storytellers before the show and explain how much we and the audience are trusting them. 99.9% of people honor that trust and deliver great stories!
L+B: What makes for a good/successful story at one of your events?
HPS: A good story comes from a true experience that has changed you in some way, whether positively or negatively, and is something you still think about. Do you already have a story in your head? Yeah, that one! Those stories and experiences that come to you instinctively are the ones that show up on stage. In short, the best stories are true stories.
More specifically, a successful story at our events is one that lasts between 5 to 7 minutes, is delivered without notes, and has the storyteller making eye contact with the audience.
L+B: How do the two of you divide up the event production and promotion responsibilities?
HPS: It’s actually not just the two of us! We have a whole team helping us too!
Casie Luong helps with setup, teardown, and creates the playlist to set the right vibe and tone.
Waverly helps us with setup, sound, and lighting.
Erin handles a lot of the behind-the-scenes logistics, including communicating our expectations, values, and providing directions to the venue.
Matthew is responsible for creating videos on social media and writing copy.
Both Matthew and Erin share producer and hosting duties and make a concerted effort to connect and welcome audience members.
L+B: If money and logistics were no object, what would be your dream event to organize?
Matthew: Our dream event would be to host Hyde Park Storytelling at the Moody Amphitheater in Waterloo Park. The evening would feature storytelling by Sabrina Ellis from A Giant Dog, Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ, Gary Clark Jr., along with four new storytellers who have never graced our stage before. [Editor’s note: We saw Sabrina Ellis star in the Museum of Human Achievement’s Christmas show “Edward Normalhands”, and now we, too, are huge fans.] I’m really keen on having regular people share their stories alongside some of Austin’s greats. I want regular folks to share their story, no matter how simple or intense, and feel like rockstars!
L+B: What’s next for Hyde Park Storytelling?
HPS: Our next event is March 30th at Batch, 7pm! Also we are planning our 10 Year (!!) Anniversary show later this year!
L+B: What are some of your favorite Austin events or experiences that you don’t produce?
HPS: We love Mortified, Testify, Stories on the Lawn, Bluegrass Night at Radio, Austin Studio Tour, HONK! TX, Bedpost Confessions, Waterloo Creek Show, Rock the Park, and so many more!
All-the-Time Austin Artsy Fun
Our weekly newsletter features upcoming events, but sometimes the activity you’re looking for isn’t an event at all—it’s a place that’s always there. Next time you find yourself on an afternoon when nothing special seems to be going on, you could consider checking out one of these evergreen options.
- Tiny Minotaur
Drinking and costumed LARPing, Dungeonsynths performing in the dungeon w/lots of lore
- The Eureka Room
Uniquely goofy, silly, + fun immersive games you play with a group. No spoilers!
- Escape the Box on South Congress
So you think you can escape boxes. Sure, but what about time traveling boxes?
- We Luv Video
The Alexandria Library of video rental. It’s community-run, you can rent movies or watch them in a cinema while literally surrounded by VHS tapes and DVDs.
- The Goats at Jester King Brewery
More a theme park geared towards folks who like refermented cherries in their beer (me) than a brewery. I have not experienced the Goat Experience, but I have seen their goats, and I approve.
- Cathedral of Junk
A towering achievement to collecting weird old stuff that will spark nostalgia and cause you to wonder at your last tetanus shot timing
- West China Tea House
In addition to their events, West China is a wonderful place just to chat with interesting and welcoming people and drink some delicious tea
- Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve
A lovely park + nature walk that is protected by a crack corps of dedicated peacocks and peahens. Good luck escaping without some flashy, feathery displays.
- Laguna Gloria
The Contemporary Austin’s outdoor sculpture garden. Culture + Nature = Profit.
- Austin Creative Reuse Center
A nonprofit shop where you can get any art, craft, or office supplies you can imagine for literal pennies. Eat your heart out, Office Despot.
- Museum of the Weird
It’s right there on Dirty 6th but worth a visit. From famous fake paleontology to recreations of horror film sets, there’s lots to see.
- James Turrell’s Skyspace
Like Turrell’s best works, this is an art experience which unfolds slowly over time. Watch as the changing colors of sunset remake the space.
Thanks to our Patreon subscribers
A huge thank-you to our Patreon subscribers Katie Green, Christina Jue, Colleen MB, Lilly Ettinger, Lena Long, Amalia Litsa, Alexander Freed, Spencer, Kristen Backor, Timon A., Kate Murray, and Amy Wilde. We’re deeply grateful for your support, which allows us to do things like “pay our Mailchimp fee” and “spend hours researching Austin events when technically we should be working.”
If you’d like to support us on Patreon and get access to exclusive member-only benefits, you may do so here.
Recent weeks found us celebrating “Bouncemas” at UT, partying with Art Island at the Coral Snake, and admiring art lamps at Highland Collective. Follow Lite + Brite on Instagram to keep up with our adventures. And come chat with us and the rest of the L+B community on our Discord server!
How do we choose which events to feature?
Honestly, it’s pretty random. We might include anything in Austin that we, personally, would conceivably want to go to, generally excluding normal concerts, comedy shows, and movie showtimes because there are many other good resources for finding those. (We especially recommend Showlist for live music, The Darker Side of Austin for goth and metal stuff, and the 60+ Weirdest Things in Austin for exactly what it sounds like). This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s just stuff that caught our eye this week. If you have an event that you want us to consider including, send it over.
Who are we?
We make this newsletter. We do our own events, most prominently No Lights No Lycra (every second and fourth Thursday of the month). We once got called “local Austin couple” by KXAN. We do some other stuff here and there. We love going out to creative events in Austin, and we want you to join us. Visit us at liteandbriteatx.com, and support us on Patreon if you like what we do.