7. Put on your boots & try Two Stepping at a country dance hall!
I’m not gonna lie…before I moved to Texas from Chicago, I had zero point zero interest in country music. But, I love to dance and so…as soon as I got down here, I knew I had to keep an open mind and check out this whole ‘two stepping’ craze I kept hearing about. I guess it’s nothing new to Texans but to a Midwestern girl like me, it’s a whole new world!
So, I got myself some cowboy boots (well…more of a biker boot kinda style in my case) and headed out to country dance halls all over the Austin area…and there are quite a few! I’ve been to the White Horse in downtown Austin, Dance Across Texas south of downtown, Maverick’s in Pflugerville, and Wild West in Cedar Park so far. Once I went the first time, I was hooked…or should I say ‘roped and saddled’?
Each dance hall has it’s own appeal…The White Horse is very convenient for tourists staying downtown Austin, Dance Across Texas boasts a huge dance floor, and Maverick’s and Wild West are up north a bit so easy for me and my fellow North suburbanites to get to. Update: I just paid a second visit to Maverick’s with some girlfriends last night (4/7/2017) and it was warmish so we ventured to the outside bar. What a Blast! Whole different world out there with the DJ spinning old school hip hop and all the fun giant sized bar games. It’s a nice change of pace when you need a break from all the country music and dancing inside. Well played, Mavericks, well played.
Now, back to my story…I visited Wild West in Cedar Park last weekend and here are a few of the reasons why I love it…and the whole country dancing scene in general!
First off, I think the one thing that makes country dance halls so unique is that there is a chivalry here that you don’t normally find in regular bars and dance clubs. Gentlemen will come up and ask a lady to dance, take her hand and walk her to the dance floor, lead her in the dance, and walk her back when the dance is over. It sounds quaint but it’s so sweet…especially these days when you don’t run across ‘old school’ manners very often!
All the dance halls I’ve been to offer free classes because the country dances do require just a little bit of skill. The instructors at Wild West are especially good and they really make learning the dances fun and easy…and trust me-you will get a workout! So far, I’ve become pretty comfortable with the ‘two step’, the ‘one step’, and the ‘triple two’ thanks to the free classes and several nice gentlemen (who were also very skilled dance partners) who took a chance dancing with the novice from Chicago. Ladies, here’s a friendly tip: Beware the ‘Spinners’! These are the well meaning guys who try to impress you by constantly spinning you until you are ready to fall into a dizzy heap in the middle of the dance floor. Have a heart, boys…some of us are drinking tequila, for God’s sake!
The DJs at Wild West are great! They spin a lively mix of current and old school country hits (I am now a Yuge fan of ‘Wagon Wheel’, ‘House Party’ and ‘Gentle On My Mind’…thank you very much!) and they throw in some line dances and dance club favorites to keep things interesting. I’ve noticed this at the other dance halls too and I like it..something for everyone! Most of the halls I’ve been to offer live music some nights as well. White Horse is famous for it!
If you go out early, there is no cover charge at most halls. But, no matter what time you go, there’s always plenty of room because, like so many things in Texas, these dance halls are BIG! You need alot of room to boot scoot and boogie on the dance floor so…size matters!;)
Don’t expect to get very fancy cocktails at these establishments. The first time I went to one of these halls, I quickly realized I’d have to wait for another day to have my usual Dirty Martini. Now, I just order a Margarita and all is well. I gather that lots of folks just stick with beer…as evidenced by the abundance of beer signs plastered all over the place!
If you go to any dance hall in the area, you’ll see folks of all ages joining in the fun and ‘cutting a rug’. Some native Texans tell me that their parents would bring them along when they were little kids. ‘It’s just something we all grew up with’ says one dancer. So, even some very young couples will impress you with their fancy footwork out there on the floor!
But, don’t be shy! Texans are pretty friendly by nature and no one will judge you if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, whether you’re visiting or you’ve lived here forever…or maybe you just got here as fast as you could, I highly recommend you try a night out kickin’ up yer’ heels like the locals do!