Bring back Tejano dance halls

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

I know we all have things we miss from the pre-pandemic days and things we hope to do when it finally ends, and for me, one of those things is dancing. But not just any kind of dancing. I’m talking Latin/Hispanic dancing. I’m talking cumbia, quebradita, duranguense, salsa, merengue, bachata, etc. I’m talking Tejano music.

Central Texas is a lot more diverse than it gets credit for and I really wish it was easier to explore that diversity, particularly when it comes to cultural activities such as dancing. Everyone loves a good Honky Tonk and Texas two-step, but Melody Ranch can’t be the only immediate option (not that I have anything against Melody Ranch).

What I’m trying to say is that there should be more immediate options for Tejano and Latin music to be enjoyed. I know there was a place downtown that offered a Latin night, but considering I can’t even remember the name of the establishment, it obviously wasn’t enough.

Tejano culture was born before Texas was even a state, and the music and dancing are a direct reflection of its history in the region. Tejano culture is a border culture, a combination of Mexican, Anglo-American and Indigenous, influenced by German and Czech immigrants in the mid-19th century. It transcends a single label or definition.

Tejano music and dance halls in particular are a great example of the diversity and “cosmicness” of the Hispanic/Latin community. The music is a melting pot of different styles: Columbian cumbia, Cubano boleros, Texas country and German accordion polka. Dance halls are the table where its served. A place to gather as a community and indulge in togetherness when we so often feel like outsiders, no matter where we go.

But Tejano culture is uniquely American. It’s non-homogenous in the same way that America is non-homogenous.

You see, my beef isn’t necessarily with the lack of dance halls in the region but with the lack of authentic spaces in which Tejano culture is allowed to thrive. Because it is thriving. Obviously, it’s more prevalent down south, in the Valley and in big cities with a larger Hispanic presence like Houston and San Antonio. However, I still feel like there is a strong enough presence of Hispanics in Central Texas to have more spaces for our culture to continue to thrive.

And maybe I’m not looking hard enough for those spaces. Maybe I just need to keep looking for them. All I know is when the pandemic ends, the first thing I’m going to do is bailar.