Weeklong dance hall tour to ‘cruise’ through Texas history

Patrons dance in the newly renovated Sengelmann Dance Hall in Schulenburg, Texas, on Thursday July 30, 2009.

Patrons dance in the newly renovated Sengelmann Dance Hall in Schulenburg, Texas, on Thursday July 30, 2009. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez, Austin American-Statesman

Take a cruise and you’re gonna be afloat in entertainment, drinks, dinner and more. But no matter what level of luxury you’re paying for, there’s one thing you can’t get at sea: An authentic Texas dance hall experience in a polished-by-the-decades historical Texas dance hall.

Don’t worry, though. Ray Benson has a plan.

The band leader and his “Asleep at the Wheel” cohorts are hosting a six-night “land cruise” that features stops at six time-honored venues — including the famed Luckenbach Dance Hall — with entertainment, drinks and dinner all included, as well as daytime tours and shopping. The Texas Dance Hall Tour runs March 20-26.

Lisa Martin enjoys the antics of dancing partner Jim Coale as they make their way around the floor in front of Gary P. Nunn and band playing on a Saturday night in Luckenbach, Texas, May 8, 2004. Photo by Tom Reel, San Antonio Express-News

Lisa Martin enjoys the antics of dancing partner Jim Coale as they make their way around the floor in front of Gary P. Nunn and band playing on a Saturday night in Luckenbach, Texas, May 8, 2004. Photo by Tom Reel, San Antonio Express-News

The dance hall is an integral part of the Texas story — more than 1,000 once dotted the Lone Star map, built largely in German and Czech communities. But the dance hall is also quickly becoming history — about 400 remain. A recent loss was Tin Hall in Cypress outside Houston. It closed down last year.

If you went to college in Texas you might have done the dance hall thing at least once — Whittington’s beef jerky for lunch, a burger for dinner. Too many beers outside the dance hall, the old “clutch and sway” inside.

But the Texas Dance Hall Tour is a bit more upscale than that: For $3,500 a couple gets six nights at two hotels, transportation to and from all the events and dinner and drinks .. AND dance lessons on the first full day of the tour. (There’s also less expensive packages for folks whose wallet doesn’t weigh down their Wranglers.)

Exterior of the newly renovated Sengelmann Dance Hall in downtown Schulenburg, Texas, on Thursday July 30, 2009. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez, Austin American-Statesman

Exterior of the newly renovated Sengelmann Dance Hall in downtown Schulenburg, Texas, on Thursday July 30, 2009. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez, Austin American-Statesman

Included on the tour is a stop at Twin Sisters Dance Hall outside Blanco with performances by Asleep at the Wheel and Dale Watson and a stop at Sengelmann Hall in Schulenburg with performances by Lee Ann Womack and Hot Club of Cowtown.

Learn more about historic Texas dance halls at Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc.


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