SoulCycle class DJed by M.I.A. drummer is most SXSW workout ever

It’s not every day that an internationally known DJ plays the music at your spin class, but that’s exactly what happened at the new downtown SoulCycle location, 401 Congress Ave., on Saturday morning.

Madame Gandhi, drummer for artist M.I.A., provided the tunes for the hourlong class and even treated riders to her newly release track, “The Future is Female.”

“(Playing the track) felt really beautiful, and everyone was just moving in sync,” she said after the class. “I felt so grateful to give that positive message to such a positive space. SoulCycle has been like my life coach. As a musician, it just gives me such joy.”

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Inside the new SoulCycle studio on Congress Avenue. credit: Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

In addition to providing the soundtrack, Madame Gandhi also drummed along and even did some reps with 3-pound weights. Instructor Rachel Rivas matched her energy with a positive but challenging workout.

“(At a live DJ class) it’s kind of expect the unexpected. You really have no idea what you’re getting into,” Rivas said. “It’s so fun. It keeps you on your toes.”

The live DJ classes are part of SoulCycle’s celebration of SXSW and will be available every morning at 9:30 a.m. through Tuesday at the downtown location, which opened in February.

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The new downtown SoulCycle location opened in February. credit: Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Madame Gandhi will DJ again Sunday morning and will be playing various SXSW showcases over the course of the week. Find out where she’ll be at madamegandhi.blog/sxsw. And check out our music writers’ recommendations for shows you can access without a badge, including one featuring Madame Gandhi.

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Ria Pleta, left, Jessi Williams and Liv Wignall before class at SoulCycle. credit: Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

SoulCycle is also hosting a pop-up from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day that includes an in-studio photo booth to capture customers’ auras, merchandise with custom embroidery by Fort Lonesome and juice provided by Juiceland. To learn more or sign up for classes, visit soul-cycle.com/studios/datx/1075.

Peek inside Selena Gomez’s $3 million Texas mansion now up for sale

Feb. 7, 2018 UPDATE: Selena Gomez’s Texas mansion is back on the market after failing to sell at a listing price of $3 million early last year, Mansion Global reports. The 10,00-square-foot Fort Worth mansion is now listed for slightly less than $3 million and was originally bought by Gomez for $3.5 million in 2015. 

What does it take to make Selena Gomez feel at home? A saltwater pool with a rock slide and an outdoor kitchen, for starters.

Selena Gomez arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, celebrating the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" on Monday, May 2, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Selena Gomez arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, celebrating the opening of “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” on Monday, May 2, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

It seems not even those amenities were enough, however, as Gomez recently listed her Forth Worth mansion where they’re housed for an asking price of $3 million. According to a release from Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, Gomez was initially drawn to the home’s two master suites, and says, “The media room won me over the minute I walked in.”

Gomez reportedly bought the house last year to spend more time with friends and family in the area. It’s Zillow listing boasts a 1.5-acre property with “tennis-sport court, putting green, saltwater pool, outdoor kitchen, cabana and more.” And seven bathrooms.

You can view pictures of the mansion here.

If you have an extra couple million dollars laying around, and consider yourself a true Selena Gomez fan, take the singer’s advice and come and get it.

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.

Whataburger celebrates the Super Bowl by creating its own Whatastadium

Houston’s NRG Stadium has nothing on Whataburger Stadium.

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A Facebook post from the Texas burger giant on Sunday shows a burger seated at the 50-yard line of a Whataburger stadium made up of order number placards, chicken nuggets, fries and other Whatadelights.

The stadium won’t be hosting  a Super Bowl any time soon, but Whataburger fans had a lot to say about the fast food creation.

Later, Whataburger shared a 360-degree video of the stadium.

Lady Gaga at Super Bowl LI: What people are saying

Lady Gaga kicked off her halftime performance at Super Bowl LI by being lowered down into Houston’s NRG Stadium on a harness as red, white and blue-lit drones formed an American flag all around her.

She kicked off a career-spanning performance with the Texas-referencing “Poker Face.”

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View the whole show here:

Here’s a sampling of what people on social media had to say about the performance:

https://twitter.com/Conthulu/status/828412335257636866

https://twitter.com/gabby_frost/status/828412643350343680

https://twitter.com/ShooterMcGavin_/status/828413443698999296

Iconic Texas A&M hangout Dixie Chicken shows off history on new website

The new Dixie Chicken website.
The new Dixie Chicken website: http://www.dixiechicken.com

In Austin, if you ask a dozen Longhorns to name the main hangout for college students to grab a few drinks and maybe meet some friends or someone new, you’re likely to get at least half a dozen different answers.

In College Station, there’s no such confusion. The Dixie Chicken is king of all it surveys in the Northgate district across the street from Texas A&M University. The Chicken was created in 1974 and immediately described as “a relic of yesteryear” in a listing in that year’s College Station visitor’s guide.

In the 40-plus years since, the music played there has switched labels from “progressive country” to “classic country” — but not much else has changed.

Recognizing  the inherent value of its history, the Dixie Chicken has emphasized that in its new website. The site features a “Stories” section that shares tales submitted by loyal customers, enthusiastic customers and customers so dedicated that they might not have finished their studies on time. Or at all.

Bill Morgan (right) smiles in disbelief as son Willie Morgan (center) explains the rules of Domino's game 42. Both Chris Cailey (left), and Willie are current students at Texas A&M and frequent the Dixie Chicken which holds tournaments on Monday and Tuesday for the game 42. John C. Livas/American-Statesman.
Bill Morgan (right) smiles in disbelief as son Willie Morgan (center) explains the rules of 42. a dominoes game. Both Chris Cailey (left), and Willie are current students at Texas A&M and frequent the Dixie Chicken. 2007 photo by John C. Livas/American-Statesman.

Among the story snapshots featured:

  • A class of ’75 Aggie, who admitted to fishing for enough change (35 cents!) in a campus fountain to buy a beer.
  • A surprise wedding in 1993, complete with the wedding march on the stereo system and champagne for everyone who happened to be in the bar.
  • Expert trolling of the Alabama fans checking out the local nightlife before their game in College Station in 2013.

Related: Ten great Aggie things for Texas A&M’s 140th birthday

A look back in photos: The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ visits Austin

Elephants from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus cross Congress Avenue at Fifth Street on their way to the Erwin Center in June 1996. Photo by Larry Kolvoord
Elephants from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus cross Congress Avenue at Fifth Street on their way to the Erwin Center in June 1996. Photo by Larry Kolvoord

This week, Feld Entertainment announced that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will shut down after more than 130 years on the road.

Feld, which has owned the circus since it bought it from the Ringling family in 1967, cited high operating costs and declining ticket sales in announcing the closure.

Austin was one of the more than 100 cities the famed circus visited annually, most recently performing shows at the Erwin Center at the end of summer.

While many see the end of the circus as a victory for animal rights, it is an end of an era as well — an era that many children and adults will miss. Here’s a look back at some photos highlights from the Ringling Bros. circus’ visits to Austin …

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Joe F. Whitlow waits as the Ringling Bros. circus train arrives in Austin in July 1980.

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By 1986, neither the train nor the scenery had changed much. Horses are unloaded from the train in mid-August. Photo by Ralph Barrera.

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Lonna Paska practices from a trapeze hung from a football goalpost near the where the circus is set up in this Nov. 1979 photo. Her parents work with the elephants in the circus. Photo by Ed Malcik.

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If you’re a parent, at some point you’re going to invest some effort and money into something for your child that doesn’t work out. This is Holly Hendrix at the circus in September 1976 with her sleeping daughter Erica. Photo by Ed Malcik.

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Young Amy Chamrad is much more excited about the circus in July 1980, watching from the front row. Photo by Zach Ryall

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Elephants cross Lamar Boulevard along the railroad tracks just south of 5th Street in June 1997. They left their rail cars at the AmTrak depot for a long walk to the Erwin Center. Photo by David Kennedy

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants make their way east on Red River Street to the Erwin Center in June 2006. Photo by Ralph Barrera.

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Elephant handler, Hicham Basllam watches as an elephant waves a Longhorn flag during the Ele-Punt Kickoff Brunch outside the Erwin Center in August 2009.  In an effort to show support for the upcoming Longhorn football season the Asian elephants feasted on their own type of pre-game brunch then one of the elephants kicked a large football to a waiting Bevo mascot. Photo by Deborah Cannon.

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Members of the Texas Cheer Squad have their photo taken with a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey elephant in August 2009. Photo by Deborah Cannon.

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Human cannonballs Tina Miser and her husband Brian Miser get in the cannon at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2010. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Highwire performer Jonathan Lopez performs while carrying Taylor Kimball, 7, of Lakeway, during the pre-show at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2010. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Ringmaster Alex Ramon performs a magic trick for Jenna White, 6, of Leander, during the pre-show at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2010. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Jocelyn Eddie Constant Jr., 2, wears a clown nose at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2015. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Kelly Ann, a 19-year-old Asian elephant, walks away after a news conference at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2015. Photo by Jay Janner.

This day in Texas history: Hard living kills an English noble in a cowboy town

The town of Big Spring as it appeared in 2005, 120 years after the death of one of its most unusual residents. Photo by Joshua Scheide, Odessa American
The town of Big Spring as it appeared in 2005, 120 years after the death of one of its most unusual residents. Photo by Joshua Scheide, Odessa American

If you looked around Big Spring, Texas, in 1885, you probably would expect to see cowboys, strong and serious. Maybe a preacher, sober and stoic. Perhaps a few farmers. A saloon owner. A banker.

What you wouldn’t expect to see was English nobleman Joseph Heneage Finch, seventh Earl of Aylesford, three sheets to the wind, two weeks into his last party.

But there he was. And then he was dead.

Before he died on this day in 1885, Finch had lived a lifetime’s worth. In England, after marrying and having a couple of daughters, Finch entertained the prince of Wales at his estate outside London.

Finch became fast friends with the future Edward VII, accompanying him on a tour of India, before returning home in 1876 to an unfaithful wife, a scandalous divorce and, ultimately, exile from English high society.

After laying low for awhile, he emerged, of all places, in the West Texas town of Big Spring, where he bought a 2,500-acre ranch and populated it with neglected cattle and empty whiskey bottles.

If you’re thinking an English nobleman and West Texans weren’t likely to hit it right off in the late 1800s (or now, for that matter), you are right. But Finch spoke a universal language …

“Though initially unable to gain the acceptance of the local cowboy-cattleman fraternity,” the Handbook of Texas Online says, “the earl won them over in time by his generosity with his liquor, by his being introduced formally at roundup by a prominent cattleman, and by his pleasant personality. He spent his waking hours partying, drinking, and hunting.”

The website texasescapes.com says that Finch, nicknamed “The Judge,” was quick to buy a drink (or ALL the drinks), set up a butcher shop (where else would his personal butcher work?) and bought a hotel as a home.

Finch was only 36 when he died, but his liver was counting the miles — or perhaps the gallons. The doctor that prepared his remains for shipment back to England, according to texasescapes.com, said his liver was as hard as a rock.

116 years ago today, Spindletop changed course of Texas history

The Spindletop oil field quickly became crowded after the Lucas gusher in 1901. Photo from Library of Congress.
The Spindletop oil field quickly became crowded after the Lucas gusher in 1901. Photo from Library of Congress.

The men had spent three months south of Beaumont, drilling on a hill formed by an underground salt dome.

It was the end of 1900 and the Texas oil industry was in its infancy. There were wells in Corsicana and outside Nacogdoches, but the amounts of oil they were bringing in were relatively small (as little as 25 barrels a day) compared to what was found in the East.

Then on Jan. 10, 1901, just as the men had passed a depth of 1,020 feet, everything changed. What would be called the Lucas gusher shot up 150 feet in the air spilled out 100,000 barrels of oil a day — more, according to history.com, than the rest of America’s oil wells combined.

The Texas oil boom was born, re-setting the course of the Lone Star state and the world.

The Spindletop oil field. Photo from the Library of Congress.
The Spindletop oil field. Photo from the Library of Congress.

Here are three quick facts about Spindletop …

  1. The Texas oil fields gave birth to companies such as Gulf Oil (later Chevron), Texaco and Humble Oil (later Exxon). These companies helped pry the oil business from the monopoly held by John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Co.
  2. The practice of using mud to pump out what was displaced by the drilling was invented at Spindletop — necessitated by the fine sand they were drilling through. The practice is still in use today.
  3. The population of Beaumont jumped from 10,000 to 50,000 in just a few months after the oil strike and Spindletop become the epicenter of wild speculation. The Texas State Historical Association tells of “one man who had been trying to sell his tract there for $150 for three years sold his land for $20,000; the buyer promptly sold to another investor within fifteen minutes for $50,000.”

The inspiration behind a ‘Lonesome’ black cowboy died in Austin 88 years ago today

When former slave Bose Ikard died of the flu at Austin’s Seton Infirmary on this date in 1929, his body was shipped back to his home in Weatherford for burial.

Bose Ikard
Bose Ikard

A brief newspaper obituary just identified him as “one of the old-time negroes of Weatherford” and said his age was suspected to be between 85 and 90 years.

And that’s all anyone would have ever heard of Bose Ikard … except for one thing: He was an old-time friend of iconic Texas cattle rancher Charles Goodnight. And, as described in the book “Black Cowboys of Texas,” when Goodnight found out about his old friend’s death, he decided Ikard needed a proper monument.

By June of 1929, the Weatherford newspaper had published a new obituary for their now-famous departed citizen. In it, the printed the words Goodnight had inscribed into granite marker for Ikard:

“Bose Ikard served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches, splendid behavior.”

Sounds familiar, right?

In Larry McMurtry’s book “Lonesome Dove,” here are the words Captain Woodrow Call etches into the grave marker for black cowboy Josh Deets:

Josh Deets
Served with me 30 years, Fought in 21 Engagements with the Comanche and Kiowa. Cheerful in all weathers. Never shirked a task. Splendid behavior.

Yes, just as Charles Goodnight and his partner Oliver Loving were used as models for Call and Augustus McCrae in McMurtry’s Western masterpiece, Ikard was an inspiration for trusted employee Deets.

Though Ikard spent a fraction of the time with Goodnight that his fictional counterpart spent with his employer, it didn’t take long for Goodnight to consider Ikard a trustworthy friend and particularly able worker. Like Deets at the beginning of the novel, Ikard was trusted to carry large sums of cash for Goodnight while on the cattle trail.

A free man after the Civil War ended, Ikard first rode for Loving, then Goodnight from 1866 through 1869. Afterward he became a farmer in Parker County, living near Weatherford for the next 50 years.

His friend Goodnight never forgot him, visiting occasionally, bringing gifts of money.