The dance halls peppered throughout Texas are about more than live music and two-steppin’ to the rhythm. They’re a poetic nod to community, culture, and family. A romantic notion that’s simple and uncluttered.
Over the years, many of these dance halls have been torn down, but thanks to champions who fight for them, many are still swinging today. The floors may be scuffed and crooked, but that’s part of the historic charm.
If you live in the Lake Travis area, you’re surrounded by some of the state’s most treasured dance halls. Let’s take a look at five must-see dance halls that are a hop, skip and jump away from Lake Travis. In other words, maybe an hour’s drive at most.
Grab your cowboy boots and get ready for some toe-tapping fun!
History of dance halls
The birth of dance halls in Texas started around the early 1900’s. They were built as a family-friendly gathering place for communities with similar ethnic backgrounds. A place where neighbors, families, and friends could enjoy music, dancing, and social events.
Texans reportedly built as many as 1,000 dance halls across the state. Today, about 400 of these dance halls still exist.
Owners and community associations rally to save them by finding innovative ways to expand their business like using them for wedding and events. In fact, Texas Dance Hall Preservation is based in Austin and dedicated to saving these historic spots, because preserving the authentic music and culture matters.
Mercer Street Dance Hall
This popular spot is always on the radar for Lake Travis residents because it’s the closest one to us.
Located on Main Street in historic Dripping Springs, Mercer Street Dance Hall hosts live music and events all year long. It’s worth noting the wood used on the inside of the hall was originally used to construct a set for the movie “The Alamo” (2004). The dance hall itself was built in 2013.
It’s impossible to discuss historic dance halls without mentioning Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. It is Texas’ oldest dance hall built in 1878. By design, nothing much has changed in this 6,000 square foot dance hall. It still has the tin roof and side panels for open-air dancing.
Every music name in the business has performed here over the years and the list keeps growing. Gruene Hall has live music seven nights a week and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Twin Sisters Dance Hall
This historic dance hall is located in Blanco and was originally built in 1879. To celebrate its longtime tradition, Twin Sisters Hall hosts a public dance with a live band on the first Saturday of every month.
The hall and grounds can be rented for weddings, family functions, and charitable events. You can check out their calendar for info about upcoming events like Festival of Texas Fiddling and their New Year’s Eve Bash.
Cadillac Dance Hall
This dance hall is located on the north edge of Marble Falls. It was built in 2010 in an effort to resurrect something special in the community, a dance hall for all generations.
Cadillac Dance Hall was created inside a livestock barn on Dos Conchas Ranch and — due to the overwhelming initial response and the continually growing interest — it has seen several expansions in the short period since opening its doors. There’s lots of music, dancing, live radio show and mouth-watering blue plate specials.
Built in 1903, this historic dance hall in the small town of Kendalia (south of Blanco) still operates as a family-friendly spot to celebrate community and, of course, dancing.
The history of Kendalia Halle is a rich one. The building is built of red fir lumber that was shipped from Oregon by train to Boerne, then hauled to Kendalia on horse-drawn wagons.
The dance hall has undergone renovations, but it still boasts the same charm with dances and concerts. The hall can also be rented for weddings and private events.
Did your favorite Texas dance hall make the list? If not, let us know in the comments section on our Facebook page.