A Dance Hall is where you go to dance with your wife. A Honky Tonk is where you go to dance with somebody else’s wife. These are facts.
There was a time, not so long ago—after World War II but before Willie moved to Austin—that most Texans would have shared a common, if working, definition of “honky-tonk.” But nowadays, many seem to have the wrong idea about what qualifies (and there are some, typically of the recently arrived variety, for whom the word might as well be Swahili). Part of what makes the term so tricky to nail down is the fact that there are certain ineffable qualities that a true honky-tonk must possess. Some historic venues lose it over time, and some brand-new joints have it from day one. So before we go any further, let’s set some guidelines… read more >