Award-winning film on Texas Dance Halls screens Jan. 20 at GBT


Special to the LPR

The award-winning documentary film Dance Hall Days makes its Lockhart premiere on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Gaslight-Baker Theater with its filmmakers in attendance.

The entertaining film follows one man, that being dancehall authority, author and club owner Stephen Dean, in his quest to do all possible to make sure that not one more dance hall is lost to history. Packed with equal parts humorous good times, meaningful insight and stark realities of the fate of such institutions, Dean’s adventure showcases a cast of iconic characters striving to keep these legendary venues alive.

Director Erik McCowan also went on the said adventure, spending over three years on this labor of love. “My goal was to do whatever I could to help keep these places alive and at the same time shed some light on the folks who put their heart and soul into them — raise some awareness,” said McCowan.

Dance hall awareness is indeed a driving force in the film and Dean’s life-long pursuit. Awareness of the halls’ place historically, socially, musically as well as in the overall cultural fabric of Texas communities. And with such awareness hopefully some efforts and support for preservation of these venues.

The list of halls documented in the film is significant. It is fair to say pretty much any dance hall you can think of in Central Texas was visited from Twin Sisters in Blanco to the recently deceased Schroeder Hall near Goliad to Weid Hall in Shiner to Sefcik Hall in Temple to the Fayetteville SPJST #1 Hall to Fischer Hall, to name just a few. Overall, there are more than 50 halls in the film.

Awarded Best Texas Documentary and having played on Texas PBS, Dance Hall Days is not simply a brief or exhaustive history class in Texas dance halls, but rather a look into the organizations and the people who strive to keep these institutions alive, most which have been open for over a century. Visitors are drawn by the music and the dancing, but viewers will connect with these caretakers and will walk away with a greater appreciation for Texas music and small-town history, and maybe learn a little something about themselves.

Film start at the Gaslight is 7 p.m. Director/Producer Erik McCowan and producer Jeffrey Brown will take part in a post-film Q&A.


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