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LISTOS: Austin's Latino community is hyped to watch a team that feels 'close to home'
(La Murga de Austin/Twitter)

"Alright, alright, alright, alright, Austin FC," the uniquely Austin chant with hints of McConaughey echoes proudly over a steady drumbeat just outside Austin FC's Q2 Stadium, where La Murga de Austin practices their songs every week in anticipation for the club to start its first-ever season.

La Murga, a brassy, drum-led band composed of Austin FC fans at every skill level, was made in the style of fan bands of the same name that follow various teams in Latin America. Formed in Argentina and now found in Colombia, Mexico and other countries, these murgas keep the party going for fans who view futbol games as an all-day celebration.

For a lot of fans in the Latino community, bringing soccer and its traditions to Austin makes the big city feel more unified and familiar. For some, it even feels "a little closer to home."

North Austin resident Ana Salazar said that soccer is a unifying sport that reminds her of time spent with her family in Mexico.

"Whenever I pass the Q2 Stadium, I immediately think of my family and the times we have gotten together to watch our team play," said Salazar, who grew up in a border town in South Texas. "When the home games start and the Latin community goes out to support, they will not only be celebrating our Austin team, but celebrating where we come from and sharing that culture with everyone there."

As of 2019, over 30% of the city's population is of Hispanic or Latino descent. With roots to South and Central America, these residents are no stranger to the global sport of futbol. Austin FC has already banded hundreds together in multicultural fan clubs.

Rigo Rodriguez, a native of Mexico, said that Austin FC reminds him of his team back in Monterrey. (Rigo Rodriguez)

La Murga member Rigo Rodriguez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, never could have imagined that Austin would have a team with hype like his home team Tigres when he moved to the city in 2013.

Every time he sees someone repping the Verde merch or when he practices classic stadium songs with his bandmates, he's brought closer to the all-day party that is present at each Tigres game.

"People live and breathe the sport, it's what people are looking forward to," Rodriguez said. "It's a way of living, and for me personally that's one of the reasons I was really interested in Austin FC. The last thing I expected was to end up staying in Austin and having a soccer team; it feels close to home."

Because of his passion for the sport, Rodriguez said he joined the fan club Austin Anthem to be a part of the wave of Austin FC hype that first hit the city a few years ago and later became Vice President of Los Verdes, another club of ATXFC supporters.

Rodriguez said that the band as well as Los Verdes have been working for years to make the best gameday experience possible for themselves and other fans.

"It was an opportunity for me to pick something up that's new in the city that I love and try to help create a culture from scratch," Rodriguez said. "A lot of people are born into a team or it already exists, so I wanted to kind of help be a part of what Austin FC is going to be in the city."

With an 11,000 person-and counting-waitlist for Austin FC season tickets and record-breaking sales on their first day, the club has received hype that many MLS teams can only dream of. A lot of this excitement comes from the Latino community. As early as summer 2018, the team adopted their signature "Verde" and black colors, used hashtags like #LISTOS, sent out news in Spanish and reached out to Hispanic-owned businesses and youth programs.

Jorge Chavez is a longtime member of Austin FC fan club Austin Anthem. (Alex Rubio)

Austin Anthem member Jorge Chavez said that the global sport came at the perfect time for the increasingly diverse city.

Chavez said that the team has long recognized the importance of their Latino supporters. Since many of the team's players are from Latin America, Chavez said that athletes and staff have made sure that their ties to the community run deep.

"A lot people here are from all these different places, and they might not have that much in common with each other, but now they do," Chavez said. "I think it's going to be attractive to whoever comes here and calls Austin their home."

As the season ramps up, La Murga and Austin FC supporters aren't just bringing futbol to Austin: they're blending Latino culture and soccer traditions with the city's roots in festivals, music and the sport itself.

"There's all this festival culture already in Austin, with lots of parades, street-style bands and live music, so it's not like we're taking something and making it completely new," Rodriguez said. "Since we have that pool of all kinds of people coming from different places, we're able to do all kinds of things."

Austin FC will play their first-ever game on Saturday, April 17 against LAFC in Los Angeles and won't be back until Saturday, June 19, where they will break in their brand-new stadium with a matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes. Until then, La Murga can be heard playing just outside the stadium every Tuesday night, while Austin Anthem will head to the fan base headquarters, Circle Brewing, every Wednesday.

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‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

Austin's 7 Best Indian Restaurants

We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.

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