Four day destination tour begins in Galveston and ends in Austin County
“There wouldn’t be Texas music without our Texas dance halls… They’re like the Carnegie Hall of Western Swing and Texas Music!”
— Ray Benson, Asleep at the Wheel
he dance halls of Texas are likely more famous than many of the bands that have played them over the decades. Names like Luckenbach, and Gruene Hall truly are iconic, but some of the most architecturally stunning and historically significant dance halls reside in Austin County.
To honor those historic structures Asleep at the Wheel, the famous Texas Swing band scheduled a four-day destination tour from Oct. 26-29. The tour begins in Galveston and then heads to Austin County and its famous dance halls, with the final performance being held at Bellville’s famous Turnverein Pavilion.
Those attending the Texas Dance Hall Tour will be able to tour the historic dance halls and learn more about the history of the historic buildings from members of the Texas Dance Hall Preservation; attending dance hall concerts featuring many notable artists; comfortable accommodations; shuttles to the venues and much more.
At one time there were more than 1,000 dance halls across Texas. Now there are less than 400 remaining. Texas Dance Hall Preservation notes there are more historic dance halls in Texas than anywhere else in the country and they represent authentic Texas music, culture and history.
Going with Asleep at the Wheel on this special tour is the Texas Troubadour, Dale Watson with his classic honky tonk music; Bruce & Kelly, this pair bring their love of each other and for music together with their special brand of music that’s part rockabilly and honky tonk infused.
Also joining them are The Derailers; that’s sure to set people to dancing on those historic dance floors around Austin County. Their music celebrates legends such as Buck Owens, George Jones, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley.
These artists’ goal is to help Asleep at the Wheel and Texas Dance Hall Preservation to entertain, but also to educate and engage the public around Texas’ cultural and musical heritage.
“There wouldn’t be Texas music without our Texas dance halls,” Ray Benson noted. “This is where Bob Wills, Willie Nelson and George Strait cut their teeth. We are losing these establishments and need to support the communities and these establishments.”
A portion of the proceeds from the Texas Dance Hall Tour goes to Texas Dance Hall Preservation and their work in saving the historic Texas dance halls.
Texas Dance Hall Preservation believes the Texas dance halls are very much worth saving as they say, “Texas Dance Halls are about family, history, romance and a way of life. And if you’ve never danced in one you are really missing out.”
The organization laments the loss of so many of Texas historic dance halls, but for the ones that are left, they are about as Texan as it gets.
The goal of the organization, of course, is to save the famous dance halls, but also to develop informational programs to promote awareness and use of Texas dance halls as living venues for community, assembly, music and social dancing; keep an inventory of traditional dance halls in Texas for those that have been lost; document and publish the history of Texas dance halls for the purpose of education and outreach; serve as a clearinghouse for information to aid in dance hall preservation; help get Texas’ dance halls on the National Register of Historic Places and help with grant applications for preservation work. It also provides financial, technical and organizational assistance for the restoration, rehabilitation and preservation of historic dance halls.
The featured dance halls on the Texas Dance Hall Tour include the Garten Verein, located at 2704 Avenue O in Galveston; the second stop is the Peters Hacienda Community Hall located at 421 Trenckmann Rd. in Sealy; at Cat Spring Agricultural Society Hall located in Cat Spring in Austin County. It all ends at the Bellville Turnverein Pavilion located at 966 E. Main St. in Bellville.
There are several different ticket packages available for this special event. To learn more about them and to arrange tickets and accommodations, visit the Texas Dance Hall Tour website at www.texasdancehalltour.com.