651 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78701
Tel: (512) 555-1212
Hours: Daily 9pm
Written by: Ellie Julier
The Swan Dive is a ghostly white oasis in the heart of the Red River Street district. Step through the white curtain at the entrance into a space that is part ballroom, part lounge, and part patio, adorned with a glowing bar in the rear and a corner stage at the front. Swan Dive frequently features pre-war vintage big bands lending the feeling that you have migrated into another world or time, away from the loud and modern street out front. The big band performances are alternated with trios, lounge singers, and the occasional burlesque group.
Shows go up every night, and the booking operates from a foundation of respect for the artist—90% of the cover charge (most nights have one) goes to the musicians. Swan Dive also boasts a newly renovated dressing room, and musicians receive drink tickets on the house. If this weren’t welcoming enough, Manager Josie Fluri says that the music repertoire at Swan Dive will expand in the future to include more indie rock, early garage rock, soul music, alt-Americana, and more. This recently opened space will also be packed for South by Southwest, as it will compete with other Red River venues for the most stellar of lineups.
The venue’s designer and co-owner, Mickie Spencer, (the same brain behind the old-timey East Side Showroom) decided to paint the entire space white, including the ceiling and every nook and cranny. Booths in pale gray leather with overhanging lamps of warm light line the walls, looking and feeling like plush little cocoons. The entire space glows with a mysterious elegance and allure that offers a fresh confidence and ease not to be found in the dark, unknown corners of neighboring venues.