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WIMBERLEY... AT THE HUB OF TEXAS' HONKY TONK & DANCE HALL HABITAT

Wimberley is the Honky Tonk and Dance Hall Hub of Central Texas

by Lewis Smith

 
Gruene Hall Waiting

Yes! That's Wimberley's newest claim to being the right place for just about everything that's good and fun.


In the first place, Texas is noted for being home of the nation's oldest, most colorful authentic dance halls. They're sprinkled (lightly) all over the state, but 11 of the best reside within a 50 mile radius of Wimberley and they include two of the state's oldest (Twin Sisters Dance Hall and Gruene Hall).
Imagine we're at the center of a compass and beginning right up at the "N" and continuing on around the dial we have these wonderful destinations within easy reach (as "crow flies" mileage in parenthesis): Mercer Street Dance Hall in Dripping Springs (12); Cheatham St. Warehouse in San Marcos (13); Broken Spoke, Austin (30) Gruene Hall, Gruene (20); McQueeney Hall, McQueeney (40); Hanging Tree Saloon, Bracken (45); Anhalt Hall, Spring Branch (30); Kendalia Halle, Kendalia (35); Twin Sisters Dance Hall 6mi S of Blanco (20); Albert Dance Hall, Albert (34), and, finally, way up around the "NW" is Luckenbach Hall (40).


Their birthdates range from Gruene Hall in 1878 to 2013 (Mercer St. in Dripping Springs), but the rest qualify as "well done": 1870, 1879, 1887, 1903, 1914, 1922, 1964, 1974 and 1989. Despite their age, all are going strong. Even though Gruene is the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas, Twin Sisters hall was opened in 1870 but served as a meeting place for several years before becoming a dance hall as well.
Several common factors qualified these 11 standouts for our list. No pretentiousness, family friendly, live music, almost always lots of tin and raw plank construction; dim string lights, lots of smiles and, for most, an entertainer's recommendation. Finally, each has no trouble in simply adding definition to what's meant by Texas honky tonk, saloon, dance hall or all three.

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Dance Halls on the Rim of Wimberley's Honky Tonk Wheel

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Mercer Street Dance Hall

Mercer St Dance Hall

Broken Spoke

Broken Spoke


Cheatham Street Warehouse

Cheatham Street Warehouse

Gruene Hall

Gruene Hall

McQueeney Hall

McQueeney Hall

Hangin' Tree Saloon

Hangin' Tree Saloon

Anhalt Hall

Anhalt Hall

Kendalia Hall

Kendalia Halle

Twin Sisters Dance Hall

Twin Sisters Dance Hall

Luckenbach Hall

Luckenbach Hall

Albert Ice House & Dance Hall

Albert Ice House & Dance Hall

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...profiles of Longhorns, Barn Swallows, Vultures, Rainwater Harvesting, Fences & Gates, and a history of nearby Fischer.
Lewis, a native of Atlanta, moved to the Wimberley area in 1995 to establish a Longhorn ranch, which he has since retired from. He's proud that a portrait of one of a steer he raised from infancy is on display in the coach's area at UT.

Very active in community affairs, he's served as president of the Lions Club, four terms as commander of the VFW Post, three seasons as VFW Rodeo chairman, and was a founder of the Hays Co. Community Emergency Response Team, which earned a national FEMA award in 2006.

He's also served as a board member of the Wimberley Chamber of Commerce, chaired the WISD's first Facilities Needs Assessment Committee (producing bond recommendations), a founding director of the Wimberley Education Foundation, and a member of the boards of WIC and Chapel in the Hills. A favorite activity was serving as sponsor of the Sr. Texans youth league football team for five years, winning two league championships. He's a member of the Alamo Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and an honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy.

Lewis is retired from two long-term careers: as a corporate executive with Sears and as a Captain in the U.S. Navy reserve, serving in the Gulf War where he earned a Bronze Star medal. His Navy service was preceded by his experience aboard U.S. Merchant Marine ships in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean. Also interested in aviation, he's a private pilot and glider pilot. He has two sons and three grandsons.