Press those jeans, pull on your cowboy boots and shine up those belt buckles, because it’s time to go two-stepping. With a rich heritage of dance halls built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Texas is home to some of the best places for boot-scootin’ and two stepping in the world.
Explore the historic dance halls and honky-tonks across the state and you’ll see firsthand just how Texans come together to socialize and have a good time. Learn their history, enjoy the musical acts that grace their stages and maybe learn a dance step or two.
Hill Country Dance Halls
Two steppers will find one of the best known Hill Country dance halls near Fredericksburg at Luckenbach Dance Hall. The town of Luckenbach's musical heritage dates back more than 150 years and its legendary dance hall has been in operation since 1887. The site, made famous by the 1977 Waylon Jennings song “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)”, continues to host musical acts nearly every weekend featuring some of the best-known artists on the Texas music scene.
As the oldest dancehall in Texas, Gruene Hall has seen its fair share of dancers over the years since its opening in 1878. The dancehall has withstood the test of the time and hosted some of the most successful country music stars including Willie Nelson, George Strait and Lyle Lovett. Standing at the center of the social life in Gruene, tourists and locals alike boot-scoot the night away on the open dance floor.
For an authentic experience that is sure to make dancers feel like they’ve two-stepped back in time, The Broken Spoke in Austin is just the place. The dancehall’s owners pride themselves on not changing a thing since opening the hall in 1964. A place for locals and tourists alike, The Broken Spoke offers dance lessons, live music and a memorabilia room full of history from the many acts that have performed on the Spoke stage including George Strait, who performed at the dancehall once a month from 1975 to 1982.
Dance Halls in DFW
For dancers looking for a larger-than-life dance hall experience, Billy Bob’s Texas is the place. Located in the historic Forth Worth Stockyards, the world’s largest honky-tonk boasts 100,000 square feet of interior space and 20 acres of parking for entertainment and events. Featuring 30 individual bar stations, live music with country music’s biggest stars, Live Pro Bull Riding, and mechanical for those wanting in on the action, this Texas size dance floor has something for everyone to enjoy.
For something different, Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas is a historic venue that features an eclectic mix of country, indie rock, bluegrass and blues Friday through Sunday nights. But on Wednesday evenings, visitors will find patrons flipping and twirling to the early sounds of swing. For those that aren’t familiar with swing dancing, don’t fret, beginner’s swing dance lessons are every week at 8 p.m. and guarantee you’ll be jiving like a pro by the last song of the night.
South Texas Dance Halls
In Helotes, just outside San Antonio, the John T. Floore Country Store opened in 1942. Despite its deceptive name, this isn’t a store at all, but a unique Texas Dance Hall and Cafe that has hosted everyone from Elvis Presley to Hank Williams to Willie Nelson in its early decades. The dance hall offers free family fun and dance nights on Sundays, regular concerts and a café with down-home country food and barbecue.
The “second-oldest dance hall in Texas,” Schroeder Hall was founded in 1890 in Goliad and is a bright spot on the Texas country music circuit, where a down-home style of music prevails. Every week, Texas country stars take the stage at the 5,000-square-foot hall and perform raucous sets that make the crowds hoot, holler, sing and stomp along. Remember to reserve a seat for dance breaks, as dancers of all ages pack the hall.
In a place as large as Texas, there are dozens more halls and honky-tonks scattered across the state with their own flair for concert venues, social hubs, family hangouts and training grounds for signature dances. Whether you’re an avid dancer or have two left feet, you’ll find your place at any Texas dancehall.