Where Have All the Men in Nashville Gone?
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Hubs and I took a quick trip to Nashville for the weekend, so I have nothing exceptionally on topic this Monday. Neither of us had spent time in Nashville before, but since this is a music town, like our hometown Austin is a music town, we were interested to see how it compares. We arrived Friday afternoon, grabbed a drink and a quick dinner at the rooftop bar L.A. Jackson, where the views of the sunset were terrific and the people watching was even better, and then headed to nearby Centennial Park for a free concert headlined by the Wild Feathers.
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This was the second time this year that we’ve traveled somewhere for a concert only to discover everyone else also came for a concert—just not the same one as us. This summer, we came to Denver the weekend Taylor Swift was playing (we had brought two of our kids to see Paramore). Our first hint was the plane ride from Austin to Denver full of Swifties. This time, Pink was playing (we came to see Nathaniel Rateliff and Zach Bryan at the nearby Pilgrimage Festival). Again, the hotel was full of women in pink. In fact, the entire town of Nashville seemed to be run by women; there were gaggles of them everywhere. I was thinking it might be the Taylor Swift effect and told Hubs about an article I had read about how women single-handedly saved the economy this summer with their travel to see Taylor Swift and Beyonce, and their “Barbie” tickets.
Saturday, we headed an hour and a half outside of town to the Fiery Gizzard trail in South Cumberland State Park, for what is supposed to be one of the 25 best hikes in the U.S., according to Backpacker magazine. The hike is rated difficult, not because of major elevation or sketchy trail conditions, but I imagine because a good chunk of it is done by scrambling over boulders and exposed roots, which makes foot placement a major deal.
We made the bone-headed move of leaving our water in the car, which would have been fine for a 3- to 5-mile hike, just not ideal. The big allure of the hike are waterfalls, of which there were four in fairly close proximity, so we planned to see them and possibly venture further to an outlook on a connecting trail and head back. That would have solidly put us in the 8-10 mile range total, not ideal without water, so at mile 4, I started exploring our map options to see if there were any nearby roads or cut-throughs back to the trailhead as I was dreading making the return hike through the aforementioned rocks and roots without water.
Luckily, we happened to be adjacent to a farm working as a wedding venue, so I convinced Hubs that we should at least go there to get water (there would no doubt be a wedding happening on a Saturday in September) and then plan our plan B. Sure enough, a young guy working there took pity on us and grabbed us some water bottles, and then a woman our age came up in a golf cart and started chatting with us about how hard the trail is and how she doesn’t hike it anymore, and then she offered to give us a ride back to our car, so we took her up on it.
All in all, it was a pretty hike that mostly followed a flowing stream, and the temps in the mid-80s were a nice relief from the Texas heat. There were a lot more hikers than I was expecting on a trail this remote, which is not ideal if you really want to get lost in nature, so I would definitely not put this on my list of favorite hikes. It was pretty, there were some interesting rock formations, but overall the hikes we did in Oregon and Colorado earlier in the summer were far more interesting and picturesque.
Back in civilization, we booked a romantic Italian restaurant on the concierge’s recommendation and then headed down to 5th and Broadway for the authentic Nashville honky tonk experience. Again, everywhere we turned, there were women—in the back of party buses, lined up to take pictures at street murals, and curled around the block at one spot…for what we never figured out.
Fifth and Broadway is like a larger, cleaner version of Austin’s Sixth Street. There’s more neon, upscale restaurants (and a Mac store!), and a wider range of ages. We made our way to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge at the suggestion of our driver and climbed up, up, up four levels, with live music playing on each one. At the top was a cover band that would play anything you want for $20*. I put an asterisk because Hubs’ first suggestion was too obscure, and they wouldn’t play “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” for less than a hundred bucks. Nonetheless, they covered the gamut of pop, rock and country with a full band, including a fiddler, and it was a pretty damn good time. For every man, there were at least 15 women, most of them celebrating something.
Since this would probably be our only time ever doing this, we decided to live it up for a bit. Still, we called it early, and I spent the rest of the night reading the local city mag, one of my favorite things to do when visiting somewhere new. A phrase in one of the reviews of an older indie band that had returned to town caught my attention. The writer mentioned it was like the “pre-bachelorette Nashville of 2006.”
That was the tipoff. With just a little more googling and down the ol’ Reddit rabbithole, I found the answer for why there are so many women in Nashville—it’s replaced Vegas as the Bachelorette Capital of the U.S. There are a bunch of articles devoted to the topic, but my favorite was a 2018 BuzzFeed News article authored by’s that dives into the good and bad of this phenomenon.
“Depending on whom you ask, these groups are either a symbol of all that’s wrong with Nashville’s recent, astronomical growth, or exactly the sort of people necessary to sustain it: young, armed with disposable income, en route to the upper-middle class. They are not the Nashville tourists of our parents’ generation.” —Anne Helen Peterson
Of course, Austin was brought up, with references to how “Nashville feels like Austin, 10 years ago.”
The Austin-Nashville connection and comparisons have been around as long as I’ve been an Austinite, almost 30-something years. And as long as I've been an Austinite, native and long-time residents have been bemoaning the loss of the “old Austin.” Until the pandemic, it had never rang true for me.
Nashville does feel like Austin, a more polished, grown-up version, albeit without the tech or the men.
There’s no question the influx of visitors changes the fabric of a city. More businesses pop up catering to those visitors, and many love the experience so much, they decide to stay, which isn’t always a good thing. But as a woman, to be surrounded by other women in an unfamiliar city is comforting. It feels safer, although I wondered if the actual crime statistics would back that up. At the overcrowded honky tonk, I wasn’t worried about someone getting too drunk and starting a fight. I wasn’t drinking, but I imagine no one was worried about someone spiking their drink (the bartenders were all women, too).
So we’re running the world, right? Or are we just spending our money?
Other Interesting Reads and Listens This Week
That same Anne Helen Peterson shared an interview with author, who has a new book out called Touched Out about misogyny and motherhood, basically what happens after the warm fuzzies of the bachelorette party have worn off.
“In America, we are so invested in the neoliberal myth of free will that people tend to get very prickly around the suggestion that, actually, culture and politics have a big hand in the shaping of things like identity, intimacy, and family, even choice! Women may make choices that put them closer to the scene of exploitation or violence, but there are a host of reasons why this might happen–sometimes it’s because they believe it will make them safer, or more lovable; sometimes it’s simply a result of cultural pressure or socialization; sometimes policy hems in our ability to choose what we really want.” —Amanda Montei
I mentioned this Thursday, but the most powerful piece I have read in months—perhaps the entire year—is’s essay in about how diet and beauty culture destroyed her mother and nearly destroyed her as well. Please stop and go read the essay if you haven’t already.
With all of her new subscribers, Anastasia reintroduced her own Substack,, a place for all to come as they are, and I look forward to reading more.
“As the writer of this newsletter, I grew up in scarcity.
But I also learned that scarcity is a state of mind.
Assembling Remnants is a space of abundance. All who enter here are accepted and loved as they are. You are accepted and loved.
Nothing needs to change.” —Anastasia Selby
Share Your Story of Ditching Diets
I’ll be back Thursday with another story of someone who dared to ditch diets, a new series I’ve started. My first Q&A was with journalist Steph Auteri. If you’ve found freedom from dieting, I’d love to share your story so that it may inspire someone else…or simply make them feel less alone. Comment below or reach out at at kristik @ substack.com.
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