ALBERT, Texas - My toes fit snug inside the cowboy boots I’d inherited from my grandfather. I tapped them in time to the music, on a shiny wood dance floor, as I searched the rafters in vain for the air conditioner in this breezy, ninety-year-old building I found myself in one recent Saturday night.
It was easily in the 90s outside, a sweaty Saturday night after an oppressive day of heat. But inside historic Albert Hall, the temperature was cool and inviting, the air moving easily between the two-steppers and promenaders, lifting curls and hemlines and spirits.
In and out, round and round, slow, slow, quick-quick slow.
A young guy in a trucker hat pointed to the yawning front door the size of my living rom wall. A gust of wind blew past the silver-haired volunteer collecting admission and out the heavy wooden windows that stood wide open along every wall. “There’s your air-conditioner,” he said with a friendly chuckle.
And so it was. Right where it had been since this beloved, historic dance hall was built in 1922 outside Stonewall. That was long before central A/C, and the hall was built to draw in the clean, delicious air of the Hill Country to keep the dancers, their families, and the band cool on those steamy Texas nights.
It was no wonder that the kids, who have since grown up into reminiscing great-grandparents, had slept so well on these wooden tables, buffeted by the comforting breezes and the sounds of their Mamas and Daddies dancing the night away nearby.
Back when people traveled in horse-drawn wagon to two-step in a dance hall until dawn on Saturdays.
Back before the halls shuttered at midnight, before the late-night dance scene began to feature a lot of controlled substances but not a lot of real substance.
Before the historic dance halls of Texas became something to rescue and preserve, not simply enjoy.
And heck - before people judged you for taking your kids to the bar and letting them sleep on the table.
Hunter Magness and Susha Dore do some twirls on the dance floor at the Broken Spoke on a recent Thursday night.