There is a tendency for people to see Texas as a bastion of the conservative, and this image does not bring to mind a remarkable party scene. This is a bit of a misconception, as Texas’ urban centers can hang with the best of them when it comes to the nightlife. Dallas is no exception; as the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, the city has everything to offer that you would expect from any other major US market.
The Dallas live music scene has its roots in the historic neighborhood of Deep Ellum, an entertainment district near downtown Dallas dating back to the old Texas blues of yore. Although Dallas might mainly bring to mind traditional American styles of music such as blues and country, it is also a rich sonic landscape for lovers of all musical varieties. The historic Granada Theater is hands-down one of the best venues in the city to catch national touring acts in an intimate setting, as is the famous Trees, located smack dab in the middle of Deep Ellum. Billy Bob’s, which claims to be “the world’s largest honky tonk” is the place to be for country music, or check out R.L. Griffin’s Blues Palace #2 or Tucker’s Blues for your fix of that classic Dallas blues. For jazz, Brooklyn Jazz Café and SOHO Food And Jazz (where you can also enjoy excellent food by award-winning chef Chad Burnett) are two of the better venues in the city.
If the the dance floor is your native habitat of choice, Lizard Lounge is probably the best dance club in Dallas, featuring the top resident DJs in the region and national touring artists of the caliber of DeadMau5, Datsik, Infected Mushroom and Moby. Station 4 in the Oak Lawn neighborhood offers a rousing gay nightclub experience, while you might enjoy the Glass Lounge in Uptown if you are looking for an upscale urban nightclub environment.
For a classy and cool night out at a posh, trendy establishment, popular cigar lounge Absinthe is an ideal venue. Cru, which claims to be Dallas’ “premier wine bar” has multiple locations throughout the city, and Cork in the upscale West Village neighborhood is another wine-focused venue for the more sophisticated set. For the less urbane among us, Adair’s in Deep Ellum is possibly Dallas’ premier honky-tonk dive bar, and Louie’s, which was featured on the Food Network’s popular show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is famous for both its dive-bar aesthetic and its excellent pizza.
Dallas has a great gay scene as well, boasting one of the largest gay communities in the US. The gay nightlife is mainly centered around the Oak Lawn neighborhood, home to the aforementioned local favorite Station 4. Roundup is a popular country and western bar, while the Dallas Eagle is the place to be for the leather set. J.R.’s is one of the most frequented dance clubs in the area, and Sue Ellen’s is an excellent late-night dance venue catering mostly to the ladies. Whatever your fancy, you should be able to find a location to suit your needs in Oak Lawn as it is one of the top gay entertainment districts in the country.
Improv, part of a national chain of comedy clubs is a great choice if you want to catch some of the top touring comedians in the country during your Dallas stay. Pocket Sandwich Theatre is a notable dinner theater comedy club, and Four Day Weekend, performing on Fridays and Saturdays at Sundance Square is considered one of the best improvisational comedy troupes in the nation. The Backdoor is another Dallas comedy staple, boasting some of the best local and national talent on the standup circuit.
Dallas law states that all-nude strip clubs can’t serve alcohol, but this is not necessarily a bad thing; they are allowed to implement the infamous “bring your own bottle” policy, meaning you get to drink more for less, all while scoping out some of the most beautiful ladies the fine nation of Texas has to offer. The Gold Club is one of such establishments; an upscale club offering delectable food and even more mouth-watering entertainment. I you’d prefer a club that does serve alcohol, the Million Dollar Saloon is one of the best non-nude clubs in the city. The Lodge is a famous gentlemen’s club which has been covered favorably by a variety of well-known publications as one of the premier clubs in the nation. Its décor is fashioned around that of an actual hunting lodge, which makes it a pretty unique all-around experience.
Texas is known for doing it big in pretty much every arena, and the Dallas nightlife scene is certainly no exception. Although Texas might be nicknamed the “Lone Star State,” don’t be a lone wolf next time you visit Dallas; get out and mingle with the locals in the “Big D” and see what Texas urban nightlife is really all about.