There is nothing that feels more like home to a Texan than a Texas dance hall. These wonderful old buildings are the palaces of Texas culture. Since the state was settled, folks have been gathering in these community structures for dances, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and reunions. In days gone by, folks could make a weekend tour of hall after hall because they were usually within 20 miles of each other. In modern times, the music of choice was and still is Country music. With the combination of a good dance hall and a good country song, Texans developed the Texas two-step. A dance so simple that it can be danced by couples who are complete strangers. And that’s just Texas friendly.
Throughout the world, Texas culture is celebrated and imitated. If the Texas dance halls completely disappear, it would not only be a loss to the Lone Star State, but to the myth that is Texas throughout the world. Regardless of station in life, when good Country music is playing, it’s hard to be in a dance hall and not want to Texas two-step. Therefore, attending dances a solo isn’t necessarily bad. You can bet there’s another solo patron who will come right up and ask to dance. It’s how folks make friends and build community in Texas culture.
Texas is rife with regional bands who make the dance hall circuit. In days gone by, bands could easily make their livings in the Texas dance halls. However, in recent years, more and more of these community icons are disappearing. Many things contribute to the problem. These may include lack of interest, urban sprawl, drunk driving, a shift in priorities. In a world as stressful as the one we live in today, something as joyful to Texas Culture as a hall full of Country music and Texas two-stepping is really a wonderful release. Dancing is happy by nature, so to experience it in an old building full of a long history of celebration is therapuetic, to say the least. It can’t be stressed enough that finding one of these cultural treasures is worth the drive.
Some of the better known Texas dance halls are places like Lukenbach, Copeland, Sengelmann, and Swiss Alp. However, with a little searching, one can find a good dance in just about any part of the state. Country music is king, but often, a Sunday afternoon might mean a departure from the Texas two-step for something more ethnic, like Polka music. Texas Dancehall Preservation, Inc. is working to preserve this important part of Texas Culture by hosting dances in some of the old halls, leading the way to dance hall revivals and making sure the music community and the press remember why these community icons need to survive. Whether you’re a Texan or a tourist, make a Texas dance hall a destination soon. To find out when and where the dances are happening, log onto http://www.texasdancehall.org.