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Twin Sisters Hall Looks to Foster in New Era
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 • Posted May 9, 2014

Twin Sisters Dance Hall is perhaps the oldest still existing and functioning dance hall in Texas. Despite the well-known and long standing claim to that title made by Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, which dates from 1878, there is evidence that Twin Sisters is in fact eight years older.

Twin Sisters is located about seven miles south of Blanco, at 6720 State Hwy. 281. The hall takes its name from a nearby pair of hills, the "Twin Sisters," which are visible for many miles around. By the end of the 1850s, a small group of initial homesteads near this site had become the center of German settlement in the area. One of the enterprising settlers, Max Krueger, constructed the community's gristmill, cotton gin, and one of its stores, as well as this hall and an accompanying bowling alley, which was lost to fire in 1967. Local resident Johon Haas, in his 2007 web article, "My Town: Twin Sisters," asserts that the hall was built and opened in 1869-70, as his great grandfather was one of the locals who helped raise the structure. During this early period, the building served as a dance hall and community center, and, according to Haas, the hall opened to the public in January, 1870. Since that time, Twin Sisters Dance Hall has functioned continuously as a community center for dances, weddings, family functions, fundraisers, and other events. The hall has continued to host a first Saturday night dance for generations.

Twin Sisters and its legacy are crucial to the history of Texas music and culture. It is common knowledge that, without the early dance halls, the rich tradition of Texas music as we know it today would not exist. These halls nurtured the earliest forms of Texas music and helped propel it to the international stature it enjoys today. The long list of performers who have appeared at Twin Sisters reads like a who's who of Texas music, including figures such as “Pappy" Selph, Cliff Bruner, Adolph Hofner, Caesare Masse, and even a young George Strait, who later became one of the highest selling artist in Country Music history.

Currently the hall is owned by Twin Sisters Dance Hall Club, Inc., a non-profit that oversees the building's maintenance and operation. The Club has recently embarked on a mission of improving not only the hall's physical upkeep, but also its profile as an entertainment venue, with a long-term plan to present more prominent regional and national acts. The Club has likewise entered into negotiations with Texas Dance Hall Preservation (texasdancehall.org) to help with preservation efforts and elevate the profile of the iconic hall.

Texas Dance Hall Preservation (TDHP) has assisted many historic halls in this endeavor, including Sengelmann Hall, Anhalt Hall, Schroeder Hall, and many others. The organization's mission is to help preserve and promote these halls, and wherever possible to help them develop viable status as contemporary music venues. TDHP aims to promote not only financial success for these halls, but physical improvement, renewed community pride, and tourism possibilities. The excellence reflected in high-profile venues such as Gruene and Luckenbach Halls is the result of a great deal of work and planning over time, and requires a thorough understanding of each hall's potential.

The first of many planned shows at Twin Sisters will feature the award-winning Amber Digby & Midnight Flyer (amberdigby.com). Digby has earned high praise from country legend Vince Gill and more recently John Morthland, who wrote: “if there’s a more promising hard-country singer on the horizon than Amber Digby, I’ve been kept in the dark." She has appeared at the Grand Ole Opry and recorded with multi-platinum-selling and Texas favorite Mark Chesnutt. Digby is considered by many as "The Texas Dance Hall Queen" and has emerged as a contemporary favorite with Texas radio and dance hall owners. Future shows will also include appearances by Two Tons of Steel, who pack Gruene Hall on most Tuesdays ("Two Ton Tuesdays"), and Mike and the Moonpies, one of Austin's hottest young acts.

Twin Sisters also continues its commitment to local up-and-comers such as the very popular Cameran Nelson, who continues to draw enthusiastic audiences of all ages. The hall has also begun a monthly Zydeco Second Sunday dance (1-5pm) with Curt's Bar B Q, which continue from this spring through late fall. This recurring show features regional favorites Zydeco Blanco, who have an active touring schedule throughout the state.

All of these efforts will hopefully foster a new era of pride and financial stability for one of the Lone Star state's most revered–and oldest–dance halls. What better way to spend a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon than enjoying one of Texas' oldest traditions - dancing, visiting with friends, eating Bar B Q , and experiencing the Texas Living History.

Visit www.twinsistershall.com for a full performance list.

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