By Ryan Beuschel, Creative Manager at ASCAP Nashville
I recently took a trip to San Antonio, Texas to see ASCAP member Billy Currington play a sold-out show at Cowboys Dancehall. Since this was my first experience with a Texas dance hall I had no real idea of what to expect. In my mind I envisioned a small, intimate venue. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Cowboys Dancehall is in a massive warehouse just north of downtown San Antonio. The parking lot is the same size as a parking lot you’d see outside of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Billy told me before the show that this particular venue has always produced quality shows when he’s been in town. I was blown away by the number of people that were in this bar. If capacity is 4,000 people, then the club managed to fit 7,000 people in. You can’t even see the actual dance floor in the picture I took from Billy’s backstage riser. It just looks like a sea of people screaming at the top of their lungs! Billy’s set included hits like “Must Be Doin’ Something Right,” “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer,” “That’s How Country Boys Roll” and the 2008 ASCAP Country Song of the Year “Good Directions” (written by ASCAP members Rachel Thibodeau and Luke Bryan).
When I arrived back in Nashville I started doing some research on the history of Texas dance halls. What stuck with me about dance hall culture is the insatiable desire Texans feel to discover and become passionate about live music. Texas is the only state that has its own radio chart. That passion for music is best found in the time-honored tradition of the Texas dance hall circuit that showcases live performances all year round. This love of music can be found from coast to coast and in every state in between. Slowly, other states continue to add honky-tonks and dance halls, but their origin resides in Texas. If you've ever met a Texan, you're aware of their passion for music history and state pride. Their affinity for the dance halls that reside in the Lone Star State is no different.
Billy Currington on the web: www.billycurrington.com
Here are some links on all things related to Texas Dance Halls:
The history and origin of the Texas Dance Hall: www.texasnationalpress.com/texlog/article.php?story=20071223192434985
The Best Texas Dance Halls & Honky Tonks: www.texasoutside.com/texas-dance-halls
The preservation of the Texas Dance Hall: www.texasdancehall.org