Wide Open Country: Inside the Treasured History of Texas Dance Halls and the Fight to Save Them

There’s nothing like dance hall sounds: the twang of a steel guitar, the sweet notes of a fiddle, boots shuffling across worn wooden floor boards. The Texas dance hall environment is pure nostalgia, wholesomeness and excitement rolled up into one package. From older couples who’ve been dance partners for decades showing they’ve still got it to twirling children elated to be up past their bedtime kicking up sawdust and copying their parent’s dance moves, Texas dance halls are for everyone.

As a kid growing up in Texas, dance hall culture was a big part of my upbringing. Although Urban Cowboy (released in 1980) might have altered our idea of what Texas Saturday night boot scootin should look like, my earliest Texas dance hall memories are from small-town venues, like John T. Floore’s Country Store in Helotes and Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. These family-friendly gathering spots promise to move dance hall culture forward for new generations to enjoy, but old buildings require upkeep and preservation if they’re to endure.

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