Though we're already well into SXSW 2022, there's still so much left to see! This weekend, I went to a free yoga session with Austin's own Adriene Mishler, entered the VR expo and saw Lizzo speak about her new show, "Watch Out for the Big Grrrls," live.
Here are the highlights.
11 a.m. Saturday, morning yoga with Adriene Mishler | Palmer Events Center
Mishler, in all black, clapped alongside students. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
In her first live class since 2019, Austin native Adriene Mishler got teary-eyed when she got on stage to welcome everyone to her Find What Feels Good session. In the chilly, low-50s temperatures, Mishler promised her workout would warm everyone up.
Over the course of an hour, Mishler led the massive crowd, which spread out through the pavilion and adjacent hill, through planks, stretches, warrior poses and a short dance number toward the end. Longtime fans of Mishler's YouTube series Josh and Kelly Pullin said they got a little starstruck when Mishler roamed the audience during the session.
"It was great," Josh said. "Her personality always comes through really well, even in her videos. It was kind of surreal."
2 p.m. Saturday, preview of XR at SXSW | Fairmont Hotel Congressional Ballroom
One of more than 30 XR experiences, you can get up close and personal with Megan Thee Stallion in the Hottieverse. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Opening at the Fairmont Hotel Sunday, you can explore 30 pieces of virtual cinema, storybooks, music, gaming and more. Each VR experience is very different in duration, subject matter and interactivity, but all of them are worth a shot.
Keep in mind, you're not going to be able to experience all of them. After three hours, I was only able to try out a handful.
A few on the schedule:
- Megan Thee Stallion's Enter Thee Hottieverse: Skeptical about a concert in VR? I was too. After a short game that leads you to Thee Hottieverse, the Houston rapper herself comes out on stage with a host of virtual backup dancers. This virtual concert puts you closer than you could ever get to the (twerk-filled) action at an in-person event.
- Paper Birds: This beautifully animated interactive storybook follows a young musician named Toto, who goes on a quest to understand the secret his beloved grandfather is hiding and save his sister, Azul, from the invisible world. The 30-minute experience has enchanting scenery and is driven by music.
- Surviving 9/11: 27 Hours Under the Rubble, a VR documentary by Chloé Rochereuil, tells the story of Genelle Guzman-McMillan, the last person to be rescued after the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001. The 20-minute documentary allows you to step back into New York City before the attacks and gives viewers an inside look at the horrors that took place that day. In the end, Guzman-McMillan revisits Ground Zero for the first time in 20 years.
1 p.m. Sunday, Keynote with Lizzo | Austin Convention Center Ballroom D
It's been an emotional weekend! Coming on stage, three-time Grammy winner Lizzo said she felt nervous and held back tears as she took the stage at the festival. In a keynote conversation moderated by iHeart Media's Angela Yee, Lizzo came to talk about the importance of body representation.
Lizzo tackles the issue in her Amazon Prime show, "Watch Out for the Big Grrrls," premiering next Friday. In the show, she works with full-figured women aspiring to be her backup dancers. Many of Lizzo's new dancers, who will join her on a world tour, were in the audience—she made sure to shout them out before the conversation took off.
"This is something that has been a passion of mine for years and years and years before I had a TV show," Lizzo said. " I needed big girls more than I needed a television show. Ever since 2014, I've had open casting calls for dancers that look like me and it's been very difficult."
Lizzo said she hopes the show inspires people to be kind and accepting of others for who they are.
"It was also important that I changed the narrative of what a reality competition television show looks like—we don't have to pit people against each other," Lizzo said. "If I have the power to change that, why not change that?"
8 p.m. Sunday, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood | The Paramount Theatre
Directed by Austin's own Richard Linklater, "Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood," is an extended nostalgia trip for those who experienced the moon landing in 1969. The story follows Stan, the youngest of five children, as he watches the landing through a unique perspective when he gets the chance of a lifetime. His adult narrator is played by Jack Black.
Beautifully and uniquely animated, the film lets viewers young and old step back into a Houston summer that is remarkably similar to a modern one in Texas: new development, excitement over burgeoning technology and the carefree nature of children don't seem to have changed much in 60 years.
This film showcases more vignettes of life in the '60s than it does in outer space but whether or not you remember the days of record players, brand-new color TVs and riding in the back of pickup trucks on the way to Galveston, "Apollo 10 ½," will put you back in the action.
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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.”
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.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!