To set boots to a worn wooden dance floor in a historic dance hall is to two-step through time — to waltz across Texas history.
You can use your GPS to get there. You can update your Instagram on your phone while you’re sitting one out and drinking a beer. But when you’re dancing, you just as well could be an 1890s German immigrant. A 1920s Czech farmer. A 1950s small-town business owner. Is that Gary P. Nunn up there? Or maybe Two Tons of Steel? It could be Bob Wills, or Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers.
But if timelessness is the greatest attraction of Texas’ storied dance halls, time itself is an enemy. As cultures change and traditions fade, many dance halls are struggling to keep the years at bay and the doors open. A handful of the most famous — Gruene, Luckenbach, Floore Country Store and others — are keeping history alive, but many others are threatened.
Through the end of April, a large acrylic boot will be on display at 228 retailers and dance halls across the state. For every pull tab from a 12-ounce can (or tallboy, you thirsty feller) of Lone Star or Lone Star Light placed in the boot, Lone Star will donate $1 to the dance hall preservation effort.
Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc. is a charitable foundation that is “committed to saving historic Texas dance halls and the authentic music and culture that is still found in them,” according to its website. In addition to promotion and historical documentation, the group provides financial assistance “for the restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation of historic dance halls.” Learn more about TDHP here.