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It's 'Shot Girl Summer,' and Austin's dating scene is heating back up

Austin's dating landscape, from the casual to marriage-centric, is back in a big way this summer. (Homegets)

Hot Girl Summer, a term popularized by Texas-raised rapper Megan Thee Stallion in the summer of 2019, is back as vaccinated Austinites take to their newfound freedom and return to the dating scene in what is being called Shot or Vaxxed Girl Summer.

For context on the cultural phenomenon of "Hot/Shot/Vaxxed Girl Summer," Megan explains it herself: "It's just basically about women—and men—just being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up your friends, doing you, not giving a damn about what nobody got to say about it," she has said.

That's exactly the energy that Austin will embody as things continue to open up, says 26-year-old North Austinite Aysia Jackson.

Ayshia Jackson is looking to casually date in-person after trying dating apps. (Ayshia Jackson)

Like many other Austinites with Zoom PTSD, Jackson is eager for more in-person connections instead of online dating. Jackson tried her fair share of dating apps, including Bumble, during the pandemic, but quickly lost interest when she realized they weren't giving her an in-person connection.

"I'm wanting to see something more natural, like if I'm out with the girls or out with some people from work and come across somebody nice," Jackson said. "I want somebody who can match my energy... (so) we'll see where things lead."

Jackson also has to think about her four-year-old son when she's dating. "Being a mom dating is definitely different because I'm not only dating for myself... but also thinking of my son," Jackson said. "Since he is going with his dad for the summer... that opens up a lot of opportunities."

While Jackson is keeping it casual—she's coming off of a not-so-great experience rekindling romance with a college sweetheart— in-person dating is expected to benefit those on the other end of the dating spectrum as well.

Sway, a 32-year-old Faculty Fellow in Nanotechnology at the University of Texas, hasn't had much luck with online dating either after moving from Dallas last year. The social isolation of the pandemic paired with the pressure of his career made it difficult to navigate the minefield of Austin's dating scene, especially when trying to find someone to eventually marry.

Sway is looking forward to more in-person connections this summer after not-so-great experiences online during the pandemic. (Sway)

"I don't really want to go on useless dates," Sway, who asked his last name not be used, said. "That's not fun anymore. I'd rather focus on quality... where I have this intuitive sense that it might lead to something right."

Sway thought he might have found a solution back in February when he attended an event by Mixmosa, a new Austin-based app that offers seven-minute speed dating rounds located at venues around Austin. The company cites 84% of users who attended an event have given it five stars, which they attribute to Austinites having a "hunger to see people face-to-face."

Although Sway has met many "wonderful women" online dating, he said no resource compares to old-fashioned social interaction.

Like Jackson, he's putting online dating behind him, and he's ready to make new friends and romances alike at events from Austin Anthem watch parties to the city's vibrant art scene.

"Lately I've been trying to do more organic stuff," Sway said. "I've been actually talking to lots of young people and not just exclusively looking for romance. If I meet somebody interesting... we can kind of organically figure out that we might want to go out."

Jackson and Sway may have different goals, but they're both joining the melting pot of Austin dating culture at a time when tickets are selling out everywhere, vaccinated Austinites are peeling off their masks and residents around the city are getting back out there. Let "Shot Girl Summer" begin.


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