South's Best Juke Joints and Dance Halls
Everyone seems to be easily distracted by the shiny and new. But juke joints and dance halls are the bedrock of Southern nightlife. Stop in as soon as you can, because these embody the best traditions of music, dancing, and Southern culture
Gip’s Place (Bessemer, Alabama)
Just west of Birmingham is a legendary establishment that is a true throwback. In 1952, Henry “Gip” Gipson put together a little venue in his backyard so he and his friends could enjoy some tunes. Gip’s Place still offers music and dancing on Saturday nights. It’s BYOB with lots of food typically being cooked on the grill.
3101 Avenue C; facebook.com/Gips-Place
Teddy’s Juke Joint (Zachary, Louisiana)
Situated in the shotgun house where its owner, Teddy (Lloyd) Johnson, was born, this venerable venue was established in 1979. You’ll find live music a few days a week, while other nights will have Teddy getting you on the dance floor with one of his “legendary record spins.”
17001 Old Scenic Highway; 225/892-0064
Ground Zero Blues Club (Clarksdale, Mississippi)
Opened in 2001 by a trio of owners— including actor Morgan Freeman—Ground Zero offers a Mississippi Delta blues experience in a more upscale setting than your typical juke joint. Live music is offered Wednesday through Saturday night.
387 Delta Ave.; groundzerobluesclub.com
Red’s Blues Club (Clarksdale, Mississippi)
Situated in the heart of the Delta blues country, Red Paden’s place is the real deal. Across the tracks—literally—from the more upscale Ground Zero, which Red was once quoted as calling “prefab,” Red’s Blues Club definitely takes you back in time.
395 Sunflower Avenue
Club Ebony (Indianola, Mississippi)
Opened in 1948 by local entrepreneur Johnny Jones, this juke joint changed hands numerous times before being bought by B.B. King in 2008 to keep the old club going. King then donated the club to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. Today the building is open only for tour groups and on special occasions.
404 Hanna Avenue; facebook.com/BB-Kings-Club-Ebony
Po’ Monkey’s (Merigold, Mississippi)
Started in the early 1960s by Willie “Po’ Monkey” Seaberry—who still owns the place—this legendary juke joint is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. These days it’s open only on Thursdays, but you should visit this shack to get a real taste of what juke joints used to be like. The directions are simple: If you’re on Po Monkey Road, you won't miss it.
Po’ Monkey Road
Albert Ice House & Dance Hall (Albert-Stonewall, Texas)
Albert, Texas, may be the town that has been sold time and time again, but what is always constant is the dance hall. Dating back to 1922, it helps the town of Albert thrive. In 2010, the Easley family gave the Albert Ice House & Dance Hall a grand re-opening, and patrons have been sipping drinks and swinging to the music like they have for almost a century.
5435 South R.R.; alberttexas.com
Broken Spoke (Austin, Texas)
Austin has developed a reputation as one of the South’s trendiest, most progressive cities. The Broken Spoke, though, is old school. Founded in 1964 by James White, who is still the owner, the revered establishment prides itself on being a true dance hall and a holdout of Old Austin. Two-step and swing dance lessons are available Wednesday through Saturday.
3201 South Lamar Blvd.; brokenspokeaustintx.net
Twin Sisters Dance Hall (Blanco, Texas)
This rustic hall was built in 1870 and is operated by a nonprofit organization. It has been holding dances on the first Saturday of each month for more than 140 years. It offers plenty of dancing and a cash bar serving beer, wine, and soda.
6720 Highway 281 South; twinsistersdancehall.com
Coupland Dance Hall (Coupland, Texas)
Barbara and Tim Worthy opened this 7,000-square-foot dance hall in a converted grocery store in 1993. The bar and bar back, complete with bullet holes, were originally in the Palace Saloon in Schulenberg. It opens on Fridays and Saturdays.
101 Hoxie Street; couplanddancehall.com
Mercer Street Dance Hall (Dripping Springs, Texas)
“New” is not a word often associated with Texas dance halls. Mercer Street, though, was just opened in 2013 by Gay and Nicholas Dotin and has quickly established itself as a top-notch music and dancing venue just west of Austin.
332 Mercer Street; mercerstreetdancehall.com
Billy Bob’s Texas (Fort Worth, Texas)
Known more as a honky-tonk (the world’s largest honky-tonk, actually), this 127,000-square-foot establishment opened in 1981 and hosts concerts that have patrons boot scootin’. It also offers free line dance lessons every Thursday night, and couples dance lessons are available too.
Historic Fort Worth Stockyards; billybobstexas.com
The Stagecoach Ballroom (Fort Worth, Texas)
This classic, large dance hall is still family owned and operated. First opened in 1961, The Stagecoach, in its own words, “survived three locations and two families.” The important thing is that it has a 3,500-square-foot dance floor where you can show off your moves—lessons are available every week.
2516 East Belknap Street; stagecoachballroom.com
Schroeder Hall (Goliad, Texas)
You can find a regular schedule of live music and plenty of folks on the true hardwood floor at this middle-of-nowhere dance hall. The first dance hall in this part of Texas was opened in 1890, so the area has a long tradition of music and dancing.
12516 FM 622, Goliad; schroederdancehall.com
John T. Floore Country Store (Helotes, Texas)
Mr. Floore himself opened this establishment in 1942, and it is such a landmark that Willie Nelson immortalized it in song. Recognized as a great dance hall, Floore’s is also known for its tamales and other “Texas Café” foods. Most Sundays offer an all-ages family night with free dance lessons.
14492 Old Bandera Road; liveatfloores.com
Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon (Houston, Texas)
Built in 1955 as the Esquire Ballroom, this Houston venue gained legendary status and saw such stars as Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline early on. These days, it’s open Wednesday through Sunday and offers frequent dance lessons. It is also recognized as one of the more diverse dance halls in Texas.
11410 Hempstead Road; neonbootsclub.com
Crider’s Rodeo & Dancehall (Hunt, Texas)
Dance halls come in lots of shapes, sizes, and styles. Crider’s, founded in 1925, is the largest open-air dance hall in Texas. Set alongside the Guadalupe River, this place has live music, food, and dancing every Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
2301 Highway 39; cridersrodeoanddance.com
Kendalia Halle (Kendalia, Texas)
Erected in 1903 as an entertainment hub for the area, the building has undergone major renovations since 1996. It’s a great venue that draws quality acts, but shows are scheduled for only one night a month. Be sure to check ahead to find details on the next show.
1135 FM 3351 North; kendaliahalle.com
London Hall (London, Texas)
Founded in 1900 and owned by the Ivy family for nearly 30 years, London Hall is open with jukebox blaring and heels a-kickin’ Thursday and Friday, but Saturday is the biggest day at this venue. It’s the day for live music. Grab a barbecue plate for around $5, and you can bring your own spirits or beer (but expect to pay a setup fee).
17430 North U.S. Highway 377; facebook.com/London-Dance-Hall
Luckenbach Dance Hall (Luckenbach, Texas)
Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas. This dance hall became legendary in 1973 when Jerry Jeff Walker recorded his Viva Terlingua album there. The association with live music, great dancing, and good times has been hopping ever since. The schedule stays full too!
412 Luckenbach Town Loop; luckenbachtexas.com
Gruene Hall (New Braunfels, Texas)
Built in 1878 and running pretty much in its present format since 1975, this 6,000-square-foot facility is what you think of when you envision a dance hall. It's a Central Texas hub and a key player in the region’s music scene. Put on your dancing shoes and check out live music here seven days a week.
1281 Gruene Road; gruenehall.com
Anhalt Hall (Spring Branch, Texas)
Started in 1875 as a German farmers’ club west of New Braunfels, Anhalt Hall evolved over time in both its focus and physical footprint. Today the hall hosts monthly public shows and is also available to be rented for private events.
2390 Anhalt Road; anhalthall.com