Texas Matters
10:53 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Texas Dance Hall Memories: Icons Of Music & Culture Are Fading Away

The front entrance of Club 21, a classic Texas dance hall that was destroyed in a fire October 2010.
The front entrance of Club 21, a classic Texas dance hall that was destroyed in a fire October 2010.
Credit David Martin Davies

Dance halls in danger

Patrick Sparks is the president of Texas Dance Hall Preservation - you can find them online at TexasDanceHall.org. They have information about where the dance halls are and what events are coming up at them.

"It's a kind of magic; people who have never been to a real Texas dance hall go to one, it's a real experience for them. So there's a huge feeling in the state and elsewhere for the halls and how important they are."

A 1930's event at Waring Hall in Waring, Texas.
A 1930's event at Waring Hall in Waring, Texas.

Texas dance halls: A radio documentary

When the European settlers came to Texas and established vibrant farming communities one of the first buildings they would construct was the dance hall. It would serve as a community gathering point and a center for meetings and socializing.

And over the years the dance halls changed with Texas and helped establish a Texas culture of Bob Wills, long necks and two steps.

There used to be about a thousand dance halls around the state but now we are down to about 300; there are even fewer dance halls that hold regular events.

This radio documentary on Texas dance halls was produced in 2009 and since then the rate of decline has not slowed. The dance hall that we focused on, Club 21, has since been destroyed.  

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