It’s the formal structure of ballroom dancing (but more fun) combined with the populist appeal of The Dougie, and it’s about the most Texas thing you can do during a weekend night out. The barriers to picking up line dancing in North Texas are limited. Throw a rock at any reputable honky tonk in the area and you’re liable to hit somebody who could show you the ropes. However, I wouldn’t advise doing that, and you’re less likely to start a fight if you just take a class, something several of the joints on this list offer.
So whether you were two-stepping before you could walk or you’re a flat-footed cowboy looking for some practice, here are the best places in North Texas to go line dancing.
1. A former brothel apparently built by Buffalo Bill Cody, Pearl’s Dance Hall & Saloon has as much cowboy credibility as anywhere in Fort Worth. No disco balls or concessions to popular trends in dance music here—country western music and two-stepping continue to hold dominion. It’s an historical building and a traditional joint with the music to match, but it’s not like there’s much that’s changed about having a good time since the days of Buffalo Bill Cody. Great live performances from all-star pickers and musicians playing authentic country, dancing, and cold drinks remain a pretty effective combination.
2. More of a heatstroke-at-Disneyland hallucination of a rodeo than an actual honky tonk, Billy Bob’s does bring some of the biggest names in country western music to its stage. You might as well really dig the music if you’re going to line dance with any conviction. And there’s nothing wrong with the cowboy edition of Six Flags. When your out-of-town friends or family visit and are disappointed at the lack of livestock and 10-gallon hats at the local watering hole, Billy Bob’s is the place they probably had in mind. The floor is also usually packed to the gills despite the venue’s size, so it’s not hard to find a dance partner.
3. Midnight Rodeo mixes in more than a pinch of hip hop with its country music programming. There’s some cognitive dissonance to the whiplash music change from Brooks and Dunn to Lil Wayne and Drake, but the cowboys and cowgirls at Midnight Rodeo don’t seem to miss a beat. Party music is clearly not limited to one genre. The bar has some line dancing classes if you want to step your game up, but anybody with two feet who likes popular dance music of any kind should be right at home.
4. A cavernous venue spotted with mechanical bulls, pool tables, and other honky tonk signifiers (sometimes that’s all it takes), Cowboys Red River has a race track-style dance floor Jeff Gordon could drive on. This Dallas installment of a honky tonk chain offers free line dancing classes to ease you onto the floor, which is big enough that no one’s going to notice if you miss a few steps.
5. The reigning country western outpost of Richardson, WW Fairfield’s has dance lessons on Tuesday and live music every weekend. It also caters to non-drinkers (good) and smokers (bad), which might be a turn-off if you prefer your dance floor ash-free. But this is a honky tonk, that most cherished type of dive bar, where a little smoke is part of the charm. The crowd of regulars has been line dancing for years, but there’s always room for a new cowboy and/or cowgirl.
6. Speaking of beloved dive bars, Adair’s is the honky tonkinest in Deep Ellum, with a country western flair and music that subconsciously induces two-stepping. Nothing fancy, but it’s live music and cheap beer at its best.
7. I’m not sure how much competition it faces in this field, but the Round-Up Saloon and Dance Hall in Oak Lawn has a legitimate claim to being the best gay country western joint in the U.S. Line dancing prevails, and a certain degree of competency in that realm helps. A stocked tequila bar ought to help build up enough confidence to get anybody on the dance floor.