Austin’s so­cial scene goes be­yond the top fi­nan­cial tier

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & STYLE -

In a lobby be­fore a con­cert, the pub­lic ra­dio per­son­al­ity cooed: “So now you just write about rich peo­ple.” I’m rel­a­tively cer­tain this was not a de­lib­er­ate dig. Nev­er­the­less, a re­but­tal seemed in or­der.

“I’ll write about any­body,” I re­sponded. “If there’s a so­cial con­nec­tion any­where in town, I’m in­ter­ested.”

Truth is, rich peo­ple do land dis­pro­por­tion­ately in this news­pa­per’s so­cial col­umn. For ob­vi­ous rea­sons: They can spare the money and leisure to at­tend pub­lic open­ings, mix­ers, night­clubs, con­certs, cafes and sport­ing events. They also con­trib­ute their time and trea­sure to the char­i­ties that throw some of the city’s high­est-pro­file par­ties.

Now, don’t get the wrong im­pres­sion. Not all wealthy Cen­tral Tex­ans give gen­er­ously. And oth­ers, quite hon­or­ably, opt to do­nate pri­vately.

Yet so­cial giv­ing is still the hard cur­rency of the evolv­ing char­ity scene. It’s about bond­ing with par­tic­u­lar non­profit groups and set­ting an ex­am­ple for oth­ers.

Just check the af­fil­i­a­tions listed in the All-Stars cat­e­gory for the Out & About 500, pub­lished on June 27, and still avail­able at austin360.com/outand­about. There’s a lot of pub­lic giv­ing go­ing on at that level.

Yet if you browse through the rest of the 500 list, or track the peo­ple pro­filed in this col­umn on Tues­days, or the folks pic­tured weekly on this so­cial page, the av­er­age in­come de­clines steeply. You’ll find lot of oth­er­wise or­di­nary Aus­tinites there.

Al­most all sec­tions of town are rep­re­sented, even if events in the ur­ban core dom­i­nate, mostly for rea­sons of con­ve­nience. The sub­urbs and ex­urbs are, of course, harder to doc­u­ment, so­cially, but it’s not for lack of try­ing.

Austin, in all its glo­ri­ous, gor­geous va­ri­ety, is the Out & About goal. Even pub­lic ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties on oc­ca­sion.

Ac­cess is also at is­sue. I go where in­vi­ta­tions lead me, for the most part. There’s no rea­son to barge into granny’s 98th birth­day party or Un­cle Bob’s rum­pus-room poker game, cam­era blaz­ing and iPhone note­book in hand to record the so­cial­iz­ing.

Still, why not cover these par­ties, too? I’ve said it be­fore: In­vite me. I’ll prob­a­bly come.

MICHAEL BARNES

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