I slid my boot-clad heels across the creaky – and nearly empty – dance floor at Coupland Dancehall last weekend, the first time I’d gone two-stepping in, well, a really long time.
My husband and I made an evening of it, arriving early for dinner with another couple, then moseying over to the cavernous dancehall for music, dancing, and some old-fashioned Texas flavor. (We’re fully vaccinated.)
A sign along State Highway 95 that says “Eat, Drink, Dance, Stay a Little Longer” lets you know you’ve arrived in Coupland, located 25 miles northeast of downtown Austin. The drive’s pretty: Cows, rolling hills and plenty of green crops.
Coupland was established in 1887, and according to the city’s website, peaked in the 1920s and ‘30s. Back then, several grocery stores, a drug store, meat market, two gas stations, a bank, post office, railroad depot, two cotton gins, two lumber yards, a hardware and furniture store, a trucking company, two churches, two schools and several saloons and boarding houses all operated there.
Today, about 300 people call Coupland home, according to 2020 U.S. Census. Most visitors head directly to the Coupland Inn and Dancehall at 101 Hoxie Street.
A handful of pickup trucks were parked out front during our visit. We pulled in, enjoyed smoked ribeyes and cobbler at the steakhouse, then paid $15 cover to get in the dancehall. A three-piece band played live as we shuffled around the dance floor and sipped a few cold ones.
Half the fun of coming out is checking out the surroundings and thinking about the folks who have slid across the floor before you. The building, nearly a century old, once served as a grocery, a hardware store, and a newspaper office, and still features a pair of historic bar backs – one from the Old Schulenberg Hotel and the other from an old Mississippi river boat. A huge Texas flag hangs at the back of the stage, and a row of saddles doubles as bar stools.
I can barely dance, but love trying. I also love watching people who can dance.
During our visit, one couple glided and twirled all over the floor. The man worked up such as sweat that between songs he retreated to his high-top table to cool himself off in front of the portable, battery-operated fan he brought along just for that purpose.
We packed it in before 10 p.m., but those who’d rather avoid the drive home can book a room in what’s called The Brothel bed and breakfast upstairs. Package deals that include dinner, the show and a night in the bed and breakfast hover around $225, depending on who’s playing.
One more thing. The dancehall is open, but historic dancehalls all over Texas are suffering due to the pandemic. Please support them – but stay safe as you do.
For more information go to https://www.couplanddancehall.com
Here’s the schedule for upcoming shows:
Aug. 13 – back to school teen night ages 14 and up
Aug. 20 – Mason Lively and Wes Hayden
Aug. 21 – Jason James and Jake Penrod
Aug 27 – Jarrod Morris and Jacob Stelly
Aug. 28 – James Lann and Clay Hollis
Sept. 4 Bri Bagwell and Stateline Band
Sept. 5 – Teen night
Sept. 10 – Max Stalling and the Reeves Brothers
Sept. 11 Jarrod Birmingham