Two Austin hotels are opening listening bars in 2022

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2022 is the year of the listening bar in Austin — intimate spaces where people gather to listen to records — with two Travis Heights hotels opening new music-centric lounges on the deck this year. The first is Miami-based Dante’s HiFi vinyl listening bar within Soho House, which has already opened. The second is the upcoming equipment room inside the Magdalena Hotel, which is expected to open by the end of 2022.

Listening bars – jazz kissa (jazz cafes) and record bars – became popular in Japan in the 1950s as a way to listen to imported records with high-quality stereo equipment in a shared space. In America, these establishments are often called hi-fi bars (high fidelity sound reproduction).

Dante’s HiFi, which opened August 4 at 1011 South Congress Avenue, Building 2, Suite 100, will only be open for one year. Due to the exclusivity of its home site, the listening bar is only open to members and their guests. It’s not like its Miami counterpart, which opened in September 2021 and is open for public reservations.

Cocktails at Dante’s HiFi.
red eye world

The cocktail menu includes cocktails such as La Bodega with stool, mezcal, charred shishito peppers, and a red wine float; nitro espresso martinis on tap; the Sweetest Taboo with bourbon, light brown sugar and a plantain concoction; and a range of tonic drinks. There are also Austin wines and beers.

The music is supervised by director Rich Medina, who will use his own personal vinyl collection. The music setup includes a Miami system sound store Soundlux, which includes vintage speakers and a tube power amplifier. Dante physically took over what had been the hotel screening room. There will be programming events like talks and film screenings.

Besides Medina, other Dante co-founders and partners include Sven Vogtland, Alan Drummond, Jourdan Binder, Arturo Nuñez and Walshy Fire. Similarly, Soho House also opened a members-only Italian restaurant, Cecconi’s, in June.

A record lounge bar.

Dante’s HiFi.
red eye world

A stone’s throw from Dante’s HiFi will be the Equipment Room inside the Magdalena Hotel at 1101 Music Lane. The vinyl bar is aiming to debut in late December. Unlike Dante, the Equipment Room will be open to the public.

James Moody, owner of downtown concert hall Mohawk and co-founder of the Hot Luck food and music festival, attends Equipment Room; and Josh LaRue and Gabe Vaughn, co-owners of North Loop Breakaways Records store, as reported by Statesmanas well as Bunkhouse, the hotel’s parent company.

LaRue and Vaughn will be the curators of Equipment’s record collection, and they plan to really showcase Texas music. Statesman also reports that they are working with high-end speaker company Klipsch to build the basement space.

There will also be cocktails and a snack menu led by the hotel’s Executive Chef, Jeffrey Hundelt.

Other similar vinyl bars in Austin include East Austin’s Drinks Lounge on East Cesar Chavez and the Long Play Lounge in Highland and East Austin.

A hall in wooden slats.

The lobby of the Magdalena Hotel.
Nick Simonite

1101 Music Lane, Austin, TX 78704

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