Guest Blogger Chuck Smith is an Austin native and Executive Director of Equality Texas.
So, we currently call it the Long Center; however, “Austin’s Creative Home” has been operating, in one form or another, for my entire life.
I remember the smell of peanuts and elephants that filled the ‘Austin Municipal Coliseum’ when the circus came to town when I was a small child.
I remember seeing Richard Nixon on stage at the ‘Austin Municipal Auditorium’ in 1968 as he campaigned for the United States presidency. I was twelve years old at the time. Apparently, Nixon played the piano for those in attendance. I don’t remember the piano playing. I do remember that Nixon shared the stage with Paul Eggers, a Republican candidate for Texas governor. In those days, Republicans didn’t win statewide elections in Texas. But, what I most remember is that Eggers had cheerleaders! E-G-G ! E-R-S! Eggers! (At age 12, I hadn’t yet realized I was gay. In hindsight, it was all so clear!)
I remember addressing my classmates in May, 1974 from the stage of the Austin Municipal Auditorium as the city’s largest senior class was graduated from David Crockett High School. I also remember having the distinct honor of receiving my diploma from my father, who served as a trustee on the Austin ISD school board.
I remember May 1, 1975, when I served as a freshman member of Alpha Phi Omega and an usher for UT student events. The raucous crowd at a Beach Boys concert had the ‘Auditorium’ balcony heaving up and down so much that the plaster on the walls began to crack and fall to the ground. I snagged a chunk of the falling debris and kept it throughout my college years.
Since those days, I’ve enjoyed all kinds of amazing events at the Long Center. Things like Trailer Food Tuesdays, Tap Dogs, Ballet Austin’s Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project and many others. My most recent experience at the Long Center was over the 2012 holiday season. Two generations of my family filled a fabulous mezzanine box as we watched the Cirque Dreams Holidaze show…just like generations before had done and many more will continue to do, making memories at Austin’s creative home.