The sweet sound of country fiddle. Dancers gliding their feet across an old wooden floor in a two-step. The trance of a Western swing band kicking into high gear. No cultural trip to the Lone Star State would be complete without experiencing these sights and sounds at an authentic dance hall.
Unfortunately, there aren't as many Texas dance halls as there used to be. As development flourishes in Texas' cities, suburbs and rural communities, dance halls are disappearing. Cowboy culture is still an important part of Texas, but there's no denying that the times have changed.
However, in some regions of the state, especially in the Texas Hill Country, local dance halls are still the place to be on Saturday night. These 10 Hill Country dance halls have a reputation for great music, good times and tons of character.
Mercer Street Dance Hall
Mercer Street Dance Hall opened its doors only a few years ago, but it has already built a reputation as a popular country music venue in Central Texas. The newer dance hall is located in Dripping Springs, the "Gateway of the Hill Country," roughly 30 miles west of Austin.
Regional country acts play here on the regular. If you're in Austin for the night and want to get out of the city limits for an authentic Texas dance hall experience, this spot is a good option.
332 W Mercer St, Dripping Springs, Texas
9. London Dance Hall, London, Texas
There's not much to see or do in the backcountry town of London, Texas ( pop. 180) except hang out at the London Dance Hall. Since it opened nearly a century ago, Saturday nights at London Hall have featured several Texas legends, like fiddler Johnny Gimble and Hank Thompson. Today, you'll find undiscovered Texas country talents on the stage.
17430 N US Hwy 377, London, Texas
Anhalt Dance Hall
The tiny community of Anhalt, Texas -- 28 miles west of New Braunfels -- is home to one of the oldest dance halls in the region. Built in 1879 by German settlers, the Anhalt Dance Hall was first used as a meeting spot for the Germania Farmer Verein (German Farmer's Club). They still meet there, and on the third Sunday of May, and in October, they throw an Oktoberfest. Bands don't play at the hall all that often, but when they do, it's an experience like the scene in the video above.
2390 Anhalt Rd, Spring Branch
Kendalia Halle - Kendalia, Texas
Back in 1903, the residents of Kendalia built Kendalia Halle so they'd have a place to throw a party on the weekends. More than 110 years later, the party is still going. The good times kick into action once a month. Kendalia Halle's dances feature performances by Texas originals like Gary P. Nunn, Jason Roberts, and other local favorites.
They also serve up free barbecue tacos during the dances. Tacos, country music and beer -- really, what more do you need in life? If you interested in attending a Kendalia Halle dance, check the schedule first.
1135 Farm to Market 3351, Kendalia, TX
Albert Dance Hall - Albert, Texas
The historic Albert Hall is off the beaten path for most tourists, so it often gets overlooked. The dance hall is not as active as it used to be, but if you're looking for an authentic Hill Country dance hall, this is one of the originals. The legendary dance hall is located in the heart of the old German farmlands between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.
When it first opened in 1922, the hall regularly hosted regional German brass bands and community dances. After a long period of closure, the hall was renovated and reopened. It's not as active as it once was. Most of the action happens at the ice house next door. Even still, it's a beautiful dance hall in the heart of Central Texas.
5435 Ranch Road 1623, Stonewall, TX
SEE ALSO: 11 Hidden Gems of the Texas Hill Country
John T. Floore's Country Store, Helotes, Texas
There is no better place to catch a country show in the San Antonio area than John T. Floore's Country Store. Many musical greats, including Elvis, Hank Williams Sr. and Patsy Cline have performed at this iconic dance hall. When you walk inside, look up, and you'll see some of their cowboy boots dangling from the ceiling.
But Floore's doesn't rest its laurels on performances from yesteryear; it remains one of the best country music venues in Texas. The interior has a live stage and restaurant, but the main attraction is the outdoor stage where top country artists perform regularly. Drinking a cold beer while singing along to a Randy Rogers concert at Floore's is a surefire cure for the blues.
14492 Old Bandera Rd, Helotes, TX
Luckenbach - Luckenbach, Texas
The entire town of Luckenbach is two buildings: a post office/general store that doubles as a bar with a stage out back, and a dancehall. That's it. Pickers gather out back to play songs throughout the day, and the regulars are as mellow as can be. Once you visit, you'll immediately understand why Waylon and Willie sang about going here to escape the modern world.
Most of the music during the week takes place on smaller stages outside, but the dancehall, pictured above, hosts top Texas country talent on the weekends.
412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Fredericksburg, TX
Broken Spoke - Austin, Texas
Austin has a handful of choice venues to experience authentic country music, but the Broken Spoke is arguably the best. For decades, this iconic honky-tonk has been a favorite stage for Texas's country legends, from Bob Wills to Dale Watson. On any given Saturday night, you'll see a mix of cowboys, tourists, hippies, college kids and yuppies mingling and two-stepping across the floor.
But the times are changing. Not long ago, the Broken Spoke sat on the once open expanse of South Austin. Today, the building is surrounded by towering condominiums. The honky-tonk refuses to change, and we hope it never does.
3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX
Gruene Hall - Gruene, Texas
Widely considered the oldest dancehall in Texas, Gruene Hall is also the best. Top artists from Texas and around the world perform at this rustic dancehall daily.
Located in the heart of historic Gruene -- a historic town between Austin and San Antonio -- Gruene Hall is one of the most popular attractions in the Hill country, drawing visitors for both afternoon and nighttime shows. If you're visiting the Hill Country, make it a point to see a show here. You won't regret it.
The video below will give you a good sense of a Saturday night show at Gruene Hall.
1281 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130
The Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall - Coupland, Texas
There are a few venues near Austin that still have an old Texas vibe, and the Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall is one of them. The building, which has been around for more than a century, has been a hardware store, a pharmacy and even a newspaper headquarters. Today, it's one of the most thriving dance halls operating near Austin, drawing top national and regional talent. Folks here love to dance, so bring your boots. And the food's pretty dang good too, so bring your appetite.
101 Hoxie St, Coupland, TX
This article was originally published in 2017.
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