Lite + Brite’s Guide to Making Friends in Austin

Here’s an inquiry we get a lot: “How can I meet new people without approaching strangers and trying not to seem creepy about it, and/or waiting for strangers to approach me, but then being creeped out when they do?” 

Good question, fellow creep-avoiders! To provide an answer, we have pored over our years of Austin research and compiled a list of local activities that foster interaction.

If you’re an extrovert with no social anxiety, any show or fest can be an opportunity to make new friends, + that sounds very convenient for you! For the rest of us, this list focuses on spaces and events that have small-group socializing built into them—or, at the very least, spaces and events where the barrier to striking up conversation is lower than usual, and a topic of conversation is readily apparent.

Meeting people is hard, and it can be even harder for non-drinkers. We’ve included some intentionally sober socializing options here. Where we know that an event on this list happens in a place with alcohol, we called that out specifically. 

As we say about everything in our newsletter: This list is by no means exhaustive! If you know of something we missed, please email it over or share it on our Discord, and we’ll update our website accordingly. Here’s what we’ve got:

Make art. Collage + Connect is a chill collage-making workshop held at various art galleries and shops. Queer Craft Night is a bi-weekly gathering for queer creatives to work on art in community, held in coffee shops and bars. Make at Rosie is a creative makerspace where you can become a member and stop by on your own time, or attend public crafting workshops and supply swaps. Austin Creative Reuse is a community space offering tons of artsy workshops and volunteer opportunities.

Drink a nonalcoholic beverage. Sans Bar offers traditional bar activities like trivia, karaoke, + drag in a welcoming alcohol-free space with sophisticated NA cocktails. West China Tea—our home for No Lights No Lycra for the past five years—is a communal tea room where you can always sit down at a big table and join in on an ongoing conversation about tea or travel or tarot or who knows what.

Attend a creative networking event. Creative Mornings hosts a monthly meetup in which a local creative gives an inspiring talk, and then everyone chats over coffee and breakfast tacos. Future Front runs a variety of summertime community clubs, each based around a specific theme or intention. One of our subscribers runs the Austin Salon, which starts out with an expert’s talk about a social, political, and/or economic topic, followed by small-group conversations involving all the attendees. It’s held in a private home with free alcoholic and NA drinks available.

Read a book. One of our subscribers has just launched Paperback Pictures Club, which meets once a month to discuss a book and watch a film based on it. Another of our subscribers organizes Silent Book Club, where you bring and read your own book—silently, yes, but you have a built-in conversation starter with strangers. (i.e. “What are you reading?”) SBC generally meets at bars and breweries.

Move your body. We don’t run (except under duress), but if you do, there are many running clubs, including Northern-Southern’s Artist Run Club (visit an art gallery, then go for a run!) and Comedor Run Club (geared at folks in the service industry). There are also plenty of group bike rides, including those led by Team Snacks and Bikin’ Betties (both cycling clubs for people who identify as women, trans, femme, or NB), Sunday Morning Cruises, Critical Mass (on the last Friday of every month), and loads of rides through Social Cycling Austin. Our favorite is the Thursday Night Social Ride, which happens every single week and can attract a massive number of riders. Meanwhile Austin Sports + Social Club offers tons of team sports and Austin Community Soccer Association offers adult rec soccer teams at all levels, if you’re into ball-sports. Some of these games + bike rides conclude at a bar, but the events themselves are outside.

Play a game. Tiny Minotaur is an immersive space (+ also a bar) for LARPing and TTRPGs. Game stores are great places for this: Toy Joy runs Dungeons and Dragons games every Monday; Vigilante Bar (which, as the name suggests, is a bar) runs a “100+ person ongoing mega D+D campaign” on Mondays and Tuesdays; Tribe Comics + Games has open games nights every weeknight; Dragon’s Lair offers more games than I can keep track of; and you can find plenty of other local gaming opportunities on the Austin Role Players subreddit. There are even events specifically for geeks of the lady+ variety. Meanwhile, the Museum of Human Achievement hosts a monthly event called Games Y’all showcasing indie games and digital art projects from the local community.  

Take a class. Fallout, Hideout, and ColdTowne all offer classes in improv, sketch comedy, and standup. (I did improv classes at ColdTowne and met lots of interesting people!) Learn filmmaking skills in small group classes at Austin Film School. The Lumber Society (held at a combination coffee shop + bar) teaches skills that will be useful in the approaching apocalypse, like how to build a fire or purify water or other things that I personally do not know how to do. Plus they give out badges! 

Read the Lite + Brite newsletter. We list plenty of events with socializing opportunities. For example, if you looked through the June events above, you may have noticed a “creative immersion” designed to foster conversation and new connections, and a Tiny Minotaur fundraiser including PvP. (You could be one of those Ps, and perhaps a new friend could be the other!) And when we host events of our own, like BYOT, we try to make it easy and fun for attendees to meet one another. So, check the weekly editions of our newsletter for upcoming friend-making possibilities!