Category Archives: ATX / UT

The Ballroom at Spider House

Almost every day, I pass by The Ballroom at Spider House on 29th St. Under the light bulb-rimmed sign that reads “BALLROOM” are the words “Bar and Cafe; Come on in.” I was intrigued by the seeming randomness of the building, so I googled it a few times, but I still couldn’t really tell what this place was. Could you sit and do homework there? Is it more of a bar or a coffee shop? At what point in the day does it switch from a coffee shop to a bar? So, finally, my friends and I decided to venture in. 

As we walked into the bar area, sunlight flooded through the front door, lighting up a usually dimly lit room. Seeing a bar in broad daylight doesn’t seem right, but the atmosphere was pleasant nonetheless. We ordered our drinks and sat in the Ballroom to get some homework done. I definitely recommend the dirty horchata with cold brew if that’s your cup of coffee. If not, they have all the usual coffee drinks. My friends enjoyed their cold brew, both plain and with oat milk. The coffee and alcohol prices are reasonable, and I feel that it’s worth noting that when they said my coffee was five dollars, they charged me five dollars flat. That was just a nice bonus.  

The Ballroom is, first and foremost, not a study space. Most of the tables inside are small hightops meant for the night scene the area usually accommodates. There is a nice patio with picnic tables and Wi-Fi access, but it has no coverage. Instead, it’s an event venue meant to host comedians and bands. Inside  you’ll find a stage with a movie screen where they play cult classics all day and three arcade games in one of the room’s corners. Lights strung across the ceiling reflect off a spinning disco ball in the center, softly lighting up the room. This is a space meant to be seen at night, but you can absolutely enjoy it at any time. 

The Ballroom used to connect to Spider House Cafe, which opened in 1995. And sadly, it closed in March 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. The cafe used to be a funky place to enjoy coffee, food trucks, and a nice patio, but now lives on through The Ballroom. You can still enjoy Arlo’s, a food truck on The Ballroom’s patio that serves plant-based burgers and tacos if you need some food with your coffee. For more information about upcoming events at The Ballroom, visit their website here.

Featured Image By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

Riverside Students Create Coalition

Housing in Austin is expensive. Many students can’t afford to live in West Campus, where the rent median is at $1,295, according to Zumper. For this reason, many students decide to live in the Riverside area where rent is lower. 

I live in Riverside and my rent includes parking, and utilities such as Wi-Fi/cable, trash, and furniture. But, of course, I have to give up the convenience of living within walking distance of campus.

However, with the wide gap in rent, I don’t have much of a choice. Like many other college students, I don’t have a car and rely on public transportation. Luckily, the UT Shuttle service is available for students in Riverside and other areas. UT Shuttles are free to students with their student IDs but are the same price as Metro Buses to anyone who isn’t eligible. The commute from my apartment to campus ranges from ~15 to ~30 minutes and depends on traffic.

However, this semester, the UT Shuttle experienced significantly lower bus frequencies. As a result, students, including myself, waited for upwards of an hour for a ride. As a result of the wait, there were a lot of passengers. 

There were many times I felt unsafe in the full bus amidst a pandemic.

I, as well as other students, couldn’t avoid it, though. Many professors are enforcing attendance policies this semester. Capital Metro told students to take Metro buses, which typically increases the commute time. 

The street that I live in houses many families and other non-students. I often see older people taking the UT Shuttle to the end of the street to cut down minutes from their walk to the Metro bus stop. People in this community, not just students, rely on these buses to provide accessibility.

Students speculated many reasons for the shuttle issues, including a shortage of bus drivers or that lack of UT funding, and a more recent rumor is that there was actually a shortage of buses. These rumors were spread by word-of-mouth, and some people called Capital Metro directly but almost always got the same answer: there’s a driver shortage.

In true Longhorn fashion, students are now working together to bring their grievances to attention. 

So far, students have formed a coalition to talk about their shared experiences and plan a course of action.

As students move forward with the coalition, the group is calling for other students, especially those who live in West Campus, to advocate for expanded bus services and increase equity for off-campus students in Riverside.

Riverside Justice at UT Austin has an Instagram page (@riseriverside) where anyone can learn more about the issues Riverside students are trying to overcome.

Cover designed by Freepik

Coming Soon: Cauldron Coffee

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been itching for a new coffee place in West Campus. I love Lucky Lab and Starbucks as much as any UT student, but they’re tried and true. I’m ready for something a little different. Lucky for us, Cauldron Coffee is set to open on March 17! 

Cauldron Coffee is a new coffee shop and bar with “the perfect blend of Tulum and Mediterranean vibes,” according to their website. Tulum is a beautiful coastal city in Mexico. The Mediterranean is obviously a huge coastal region, so this should be a great place to hang out and dream of summer vacations as the weather gets warmer. 

I can already see myself pretending to live my Mamma Mia fantasy on the patio! After months of renovations, the shop looks completely different from how it started (check out their Instagram highlights to see their process, @cauldroncoffeeatx)! A total renovation has given it a new life, one I can’t wait to see in person. 

The shop is on San Gabriel, right by Hilltop, which is perfect for people who live a bit farther from campus but want a convenient place to study. It will also be a great place to get some casual drinks or pregame before a night out! They claim to have some of the best coffee in Austin, but honestly, from the pictures, it looks like one of those places that even if they have mediocre coffee, the vibes are so good that you can let it slide. I’m still banking on good coffee, though. They also have a broad menu, so you can try their matcha or other teas if coffee isn’t your thing. If it really does have good vibes, good coffee, and good cocktails, then it will be the triple threat of West Campus!  Try something new and go check out Cauldron Coffee!

Featured Image by Talisa Trevino

8 Stories Behind Tattoos

It comes in all different shapes and sizes, with lines that curve and swirl into intricate designs on smooth skin. No matter the tattoo’s color, price, or location, each symbol etched onto the body has a distinctive designated memory behind it. Here are some UT students sharing their sentiments behind their various unique tattoos. 

  1. Anonymous, 18, English Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“The first one I got was when my best friend in high school came, and I wanted to do something really cool with her. I knew I wanted a certain place that was not very noticeable so I  got it on my side. It hurt like hell, but it’s worth it. It’s like a little artistic interpretation of a flower, like a green carnation. I’m a big Oscar Wilde fan, and I read somewhere that he was a little amateur botanist, so that was cool.”

“So this semester, I went before class started with my buddies, and I got one on the other side, and it’s a little olive branch. It’s cute, you know, Greek mythology. My friends told me to stop getting plant tattoos because I’m going to turn them into a garden. But I think that’s a great thing to turn into. So I’m not really mad about it.”

2. Anonymous, 19, Business Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“I have one tattoo that I got at the beginning of the semester. I got it when my best friend came up from Baylor. Lillian and I went to a tattoo shop, and we got matching ones: on the back of her neck and mine on my ribs. The significance behind it is that it’s Lillian’s and another friend of ours and my mom’s favorite flowers altogether in a bouquet.”

3. Jasmine Lu, 19, Biology/Chemistry Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“I got my fox on a moon tattoo first in remembrance of my dad, who passed away over the summer of 2021, and it’s just a way for me to be reminded that he’s in a better place now. The second tattoo is an abstract representation of an hourglass with an arrow through it, meaning that my time on earth is relatively short, so I should make the most of it.”

4. Anna Yu, 20, Design Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“I got it because it’s a gardenia flower, and they smell really good. My mom used to have bushes with gardenias in the front lawn, and she would pluck one and put it on the head of my bed when I couldn’t fall asleep.”

5. Katie, 19, Psychology Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“Right now, I have nine tattoos; some of them are kind of stupid, like three little hearts that match two of my best friends and scissors that I got during a Halloween event. Some of them do have a deeper meaning, though. I have a tattoo of Haku, the dragon from the film Spirited Away since it was one of my favorite movies to watch as a kid. I have a hand holding a skull and a white lily to memorialize my dad, who passed away since he loved Shakespeare, and it’s similar to a scene from Hamlet.”

6. Alyza Saenz, 21, Radio-TV-Film Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“This was my first tattoo, so I wanted to go big. The rose and dagger was a pretty cool design I found online, so I thought it looked pretty cool and wanted to get it on my arm. There was no meaning behind it, and I just thought it would look nice.”

7. Samantha Ortiz, 20, Biochemistry/English Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“A Friday the 13th design that has a 13 hidden in it: it was my first tattoo. I couldn’t really afford to get tattoos, but I knew it’d be cheaper on Friday the 13th, so I found a place that did cute designs and waited until then. I want to get three Friday the 13th tattoos over time since my favorite numbers are 13 and three.”

8. Ashley Marie Hernandez, 19, Education Major

Photo By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

“I got my tattoo because I wanted to prove I could. The meaning behind it is that I have always been fascinated by knives and my comfort characters tend to be really skilled with daggers and knives, so it felt natural. It also became an inside joke between me and my brothers who always want me to ‘have a knife on me’.” 

Whether getting a tattoo was a spontaneous decision or a well-thought-out  plan, everyone’s experience in getting one is special. Some hold deeper significance and implications, while others are simply random and meaningless. Tattoos are special in the way they allow anyone to express themselves artistically, and the UT campus is filled with students with a story to tell. 

Featured Image By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

5 reasons Austin is the best city (and 5 reasons why it’s the worst)

Austin is a unique city and a place we all call home. Like any other city though, it has its highs and lows. So without further ado, here are five reasons Austin is the best city, in the world…and five reasons it’s the absolute worse. 

  1. Live music (Best)
Photo Credit: Marko Milivojevic photography

Austin is known for the incredible music scene here. No matter if you’re looking for bluegrass, classic rock or EDM, you can find it live in Austin. 

  1. Parking (Worst)
Photo Credit: Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Free parking lots? Cheap street parking? Reasonably priced garage parking? These are nothing more than a fantasy in Austin. Here, you’re lucky if you find parking at all. 

  1. Local business (Best)

While chains and big businesses definitely  have a presence in Austin, local businesses have a bigger place in Austin than most big cities in the U.S.

  1. Burnt orange (Worst)

Let’s be honest with ourselves; burnt orange is a terrible color. It looks like the ghost of a prison jumpsuit, and it’s all over Austin. 

  1. The capitol building (Best)
Photo Credit: LoneStarMike, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Politics aside, the architecture of the capitol building is breathtaking. It’s a gorgeous addition to the city and one of the best-looking buildings in Texas.  

  1. Dirty 6 (Worst)
Marlon Giles, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Come on, y’all. It’s time to admit partying 6th street isn’t actually fun. At this point, it’s just a sketchy tourist trap with overpriced drinks and sub-par pizza by the slice. 

  1. Murals (Best)
Seth Taylor, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Austin has tons of iconic murals, each with its own charm. You can make a full day out of just mural viewing. It’s like a huge, free art museum. 

  1. Rent (Worst)

It’s no secret the rent in Austin has skyrocketed in the past 5-years. It’s hard to love the city when you know you could be paying half the amount in rent that you do here if you lived outside of Austin. 

  1. Coffee (Best)

Austin has a coffee shop at every corner, each with a one-of-a-kind menu. Gone are the days of being limited to Starbucks for a cup-of-jo. 

  1. Roads (Worst)
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Austin roads are AWFUL. You’ll be dodging potholes all day while also in bumper-to-bumper traffic. 

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny Austin is unlike any other city. Maybe it’s even the best city in the world…or the worst.