Bars and restaurants are no strangers to hosting trivia nights where people can show off their niche knowledge. But one monthly event takes it to a whole other level, inviting anyone on stage to talk about something “nerdy.”

Nerd Nite Austin is a monthly meet-up for nerds of all types who just want to learn something new. At the event, two speakers each give a presentation about something interesting in which they can call themselves experts. And it really can be about anything—Nerd Boss Amy Cavender has seen talks ranging from how to solve the New York Times crossword to the intricacies of cymbals to medieval artifacts with a sword “petting zoo” at Nerd Nite Austin.

“It’s inexpensive to produce and it’s kind of a good way to get people out of the house on a weeknight,” Cavender says. “You’re learning something … and you get to socialize a little bit.”

Nerd Nite started at a Boston bar in 2003 and is now held in more than 100 cities worldwide. According to Cavender, Austin was one of the first cities it expanded to not long after its founding. She was a longtime Nerd Nite-goer before getting involved officially in 2012 and now serves as a “Nerd Boss” helping to produce each week’s show.

“I think it’s been popular and has had longevity in Austin because there are a lot of really educated people here who have all kinds of disciplines,” Cavender says. “Sometimes it’s their hobby, their profession, or a lifelong interest, and it’s all fully valid and equally engaging and worth the time to listen.”

Anyone is welcome to present their nerdy passion at Austin Nerd Nite. All they have to do is apply online and summarize what they want to talk about. Presentations are 15–20 minutes followed immediately by a 10–15 minute Q&A segment, and Cavender says their audiences are always engaged and ready to clap and ask questions.

“One of the things that has been central to my understanding of Nerd Nite, and I think everyone else’s, is we create an environment for people who are talking about something they’re really smart (and) passionate about and make them feel kind of like rock stars,” Cavender says.

After the presentations finish, attendees are encouraged to stick around and socialize. Anyone is also welcome to attend Nerd Nite. Cavender and the other Nerd Bosses of Austin are still streaming each show on Twitch for those that can’t make it out, like during the height of the pandemic. But she says everyone there has something in common, no matter the topic of that month’s Nerd Nite.

“Everybody is there because they’re choosing to be, and they’re choosing to spend their free time learning things,” Cavender says. “I think that’s really powerful that we’ve been able to keep that sense of community (even through the pandemic).”

Cavender says Nerd Nite is also representative of another great thing: Anyone can be an expert on something.

“You can learn something from almost anybody, and I think what we’re doing is a living, ongoing illustration of that,” Cavender says.

When: Third Tuesday of each month
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Vigilante Gastropub & Games, 7010 Easy Wind Dr. #150