It’s been 50 years, give or take, since a clean-shaven, copper-locked singer-songwriter from up past Waco first took the stage at John T. Floore Country Store, which was then—as now—just a little honky-tonk nestled among the live oaks west of San Antonio. No recording exists of that performance, but why would it? No one knew then that this slightly built guy with the nasally voice would become Willie Nelson, the icon, or that the relationship he built with Floore’s would still be going strong into the 21st Century.
It’s a late afternoon at Club Westerner, an 84-year-old dance hall in Victoria, and musicians with The Scott Taylor Band are setting up their instruments for the night’s show. The sounds of tuning guitars and microphone checks bounce off the walls, just as they have for decades. In the hours to come, dancers will fill the historic hall, absorbing the country music and skimming across the shiny oak dance floor in a counterclockwise motion. It’s a ritual that has taken place at dance halls across Texas for more than a century, and judging by the diversity of halls and their fans, it’s a tradition that shows promise to persevere as a hallmark of Lone Star culture.
For a list of the many dance halls and honky-tonks in Central Texas, visit www.honkytonktx.com/dancehalls. Also check out “Big Bill’s Guide to Country Western Dancing and Dance Halls In and Around Austin” at www.centraltexascountry.com/dance.html. Following are sites mentioned in the story. Call ahead for more information, including admission, music schedules, dance lessons, and special events.
It’s a pure Texas moment: I’m scooting my Justin ropers across the hardwood floor of Twin Sisters Dance Hall south of Blanco. The fiddle sings sweetly as Billy Garza and his band 40 Guns strike up a country classic: “Amarillo by mornin’, up from San Antone... .”