Where to dance Texan honky tonk and who not to invite

by CJ

Everyone has a superpower. My husband’s is that he can have fun anywhere. He can have fun at a traffic stop. He can have fun during tax season. He can have fun at a funeral (he’ll definitely have fun at his own). But when can Walter not have fun?

When dancing Texan honky tonk.

After four years of marriage, I’ve finally found the dead zone in my husband’s cloak of mirth. Here’s what to do to find it:

  1. Drag that man to a gussied-up cow shed.
  2. Surround him with men wearing Stetson hats.
  3. Cue up some anthems about hard times on the ol’ farm.
  4. Bust out the fiddle.
  5. See a hero collapse.

Yes, despite his best efforts, Walter had a terrible, horrible, time at Austin’s legendary honky tonk dancehall, The Broken Spoke.

Maybe the chicken fried steak set the tone. After all, the flimsy cutlery that came with the meal was more effective at rousing ire than slicing meat. The draught beer, tragically, was weak. When our dance coach’s exhortations that “a man is born to lead and hates a women who pulls” failed to elicit a smirk, I knew I was in for hard times on the farm.

We learned the rudiments of the two step. You’ll have to believe me when I say that it’s an enormously cheerful way to to dance (“quick, quick, slow, slow, and throw her under your arm”).

Walter executed his moves with the grimness of a man asked to unblock a toilet.

After trotting dutifully across the floor for three (hateful to Walter) songs, he withdrew to the side with a beer. I was keenly disappointed and not a little alarmed for it’s usually my job to be the sourpuss at a party.

Furthermore, with a dismaying quantity of opportunism, our accompanying friends retired to the margins too. In retrospect, their smiles had flat-lined at roughly the same rate as Walter’s so I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was.

I was very surprised.

After all, what’s not to like about honky tonk?  The Broken Spoke had a live band and a wooden floor and a roof so low that cowboy hats grazed the ceiling, making their inhabitants seem Texan big. Men with mustaches capered here and capered there. Young and old danced together as if they were at a family wedding. Half-way through a set, the band played a song that was so patriotic that all revelers stood to attention, some with glistening eyes. Moreover, the Broken Spoke was almost like a theme park for Texas, only much more authentic. Indeed, every patron, from women with reupholstered cleavage (my unscientific guess: many) to supporters of Planned Parenthood (my unscientific guess: few) were having a rousing time.

Everyone had fun except for Walter.

And my friends.

And eventually me, who slunk home feeling so self-pitying that I could have plucked a ditty on my hillbilly guitar.

So next time you’re in Texas, I wistfully suggest that you get yourself to Austin and go flick a hoof at the Broken Spoke. But please heed this crucial advice:

Don’t invite my husband.

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