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Texas Dancehalls: Better than Nashville

by Edward Mack

Feb 24, 2015

© Olivier Le Queinec | Dreamstime

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

Nobody denies Nashville is the capital of country music. Visitors can find plenty of great bars and live events, from big concert arenas to dive bars. But to get to the real heart and soul of country music, you’ll have to travel a little further southwest.


On any given night in any given town in Texas, a live band will be playing covers of Willie Nelson and George Strait mixed in with rousing original numbers. These bands have no interest in Nashville or pop fame. They play because they love music. They play because they love Texas. And because of this, no talent in Nashville can match them.


At this bar or dancehall, there will be people two-stepping. Cowboys with wide-brimmed hats and big, shiny belt buckles will be swinging cotton-dress clad cowgirls around a circular dance floor, dipping them and kicking out their boots. These aren’t professionals; they are regular people, ranchers and bankers, who know how to dance and love it. And they’ll teach you too. No more of that bumping and grinding business.


dance country folk music line Gruene Hall, Texas © Lauren Mitchell | Flickr

Gruene Hall, Texas © Lauren Mitchell | Flickr


The building will have a warped wooden floor, a porch and a stage so close it’ll feel like you are part of the band. Many of these dancehalls have been doing the same thing for more than 100 years. The dancehall culture is so ingrained in Texas that it would be impossible to imagine the state without it.


Some of the best (and most famous) dancehalls in Texas are Gruene Hall, Broken Spoke, John T. Floore’s Country Store and Schroeder Hall.


That’s not to mention the world’s biggest honky-tonk, Billy-Bob’s, which has its own record label and weekly bull riding. The Midnight Rodeo is another larger, modern dancehall; this mini-chain also features big-name acts.


If you’re going to see country music, see county music at its finest: in a Texan dancehall.



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