Punk venues are a little like snowflakes: Each one is different and they're all uniquely special. Well, okay, maybe that comparison will be lost in this part of the country, but the point remains the same. Which is to say, as far as music venues go punk venues are a special breed, meant more often than not to be temples of a rock-meets-do-it-yourself ethos. The only rule for what makes a good one is that there are no rules.
North Texas is chock full of outstanding punk venues of all different shapes, sizes and levels of inhabitability. Here, then, is our ode to 10 of the best ones.
Club Dada 2720 Elm St., Dallas
First opened in 1986, Club Dada has been a mainstay of Deep Ellum's stable of venues for almost three decades. However, until recently, you would never have connected hardcore punk music to the club's repertoire. In the last three to four years, Dada has welcomed the Dallas hardcore punk community through its doors. Acts like Nails, Terror, Title Fight and H20 have all come through Dada to raucous, sold out crowds. In large part thanks to Parade of Flesh's booking, Dada has become one of the premier destinations in the DFW metroplex for touring hardcore punk acts. James Khubiar
J&Js Pizza 118 W. Oak St., Denton
Formulas aren't very punk, but if there were to be a formula for the ideal punk venue, elements such as a college town location and cheap beer would be key. It'd be nice to also have some electrical outlets scattered around in a stage-free, barely lit basement with creaking boards barely above your head. Add in some fine, decidedly non-gourmet pizza and J&J's Pizza on the Denton square is a choice spot for a wild-ass show. Some of the most hyper, dangerous sets of past 35 Dentons have taken place in the Schlitz-stained subterranean den. Kelly Dearmore
Double Wide 3510 Commerce St., Dallas
Double Wide looks like a trailer, they serve white trash White Russians and have toilets for seats. The outside area is a cage full of people drinking and smoking profusely and slogans like "Drinks that hit harder than dad!" are about as punk as you can get. The venue is a concrete cave and the sound ricochets off the walls, so you'd be crazy to enter without earplugs. The music is typically noisy and the cover is often a mere five bucks. The weekend crowds are especially rowdy and sometimes have to be corralled out of the bar with a cowbell when it's 2 a.m. The staff is wonderful but unquestionably rough around the edges. Jeremy Hallock
1919 Hemphill 1919 Hemphill St., Fort Worth
1919 Hemphill is hallowed ground in the annals of DFW hardcore punk. They will be celebrating their 12th anniversary this year, a lifetime in DIY years. Run by and for punks, 1919 Hemphill has conducted their business strictly by the DIY ethos put forth by the genre's forerunners. In recent years local hardcore punk powers like Sin Motivo, Power Trip and Wiccans have used 1919 Hemphill as a proving ground. The space, without a stage, offers an intimate glimpse of performances. The staff, comprised of local punk volunteers, handles duties from the soundboard to security. When you are inside 1919, you are immersed in an atmosphere that has been created, cultivated and cared for by punks. JK
Rubber Gloves 411 E. Sycamore St., Denton
This year's Best Of award winner for Best Punk Venue reigns supreme over other venues in the area with its long history as a spot for up-and-comers and established groups alike. It's dark, it's a little dingy and, well, it's what you imagine when you think "punk club." Other venues may waver, they might change formats, they might shutter, but Rubber Gloves is there: It's there for bands who want to use the stage, bands who want to set up on the floor, and it's there for everyone who wants a beer, a shot of whiskey, and a good time. Jaime-Paul Falcon
Three Links 2704 Elm St., Dallas
Punk isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when walking into Three Links. A chalkboard full of craft beer selections and a well-manicured interior give nothing away, but Three Links proves that "punk bar" doesn't have to mean "dive bar". It's secured its bonafides through the countless punk bands hosted there since opening last year, stamping its place as one of the few great-sounding venues for the genre in the area. Add to that a friendly staff and decent prices, and Three Links is your best bet for a night of good beer and ear-bleeding music in Deep Ellum. Andrew Hawkins
Taqueria Pedritos 4910 Capitol Ave., Dallas
Located in a rather shady area of east Dallas, Taqueria Pedritos offers some of the tastiest and most authentic tacos during the day and some of the best DIY punk bands at night. Watching the taqueria slowly morph from restaurant to punk venue is one of the most surreal experiences one can experience. As the cooks and cashier stare at the tattoos, mohawks, ripped clothing and assorted piercings, a ragtag collection of punks haul in the necessary accoutrements for live music to take place. Local and national acts have wrecked eardrums and slobbered over some delicious tacos de lengua here. Darryl Smyers
Gatsby's Mansion Denton
Though new to the game, Gatsby's Mansion has already picked up steam as an established Denton DIY punk venue. For about one year, Gatsby's has provided a retreat for all sub-genres of punk, as well as black metal and hardcore bands, to flail about and express themselves physically. In conjunction with Macaroni Island, the two venues make Denton a strong city for the up-and-comers. They've got shows booked for most of the weekends ahead, plus a Halloween show and the second edition of "Gatsby's Winter Ball," which was a roaring success last year, old sport. Matt Wood
The Where House 2510 Hemphill St., Fort Worth
While not exclusively a punk venue (you can catch a wide variety of music there), The Wherehouse on Hemphill in Fort Worth exemplifies the punk spirit. If you hung out at the Tombstone in the '80s, it's like that. It's an old industrial building, with multiple rooms and outdoor spaces, one of which is only outdoors because the roof is gone. It's not a bar, technically, it's just a place that owner Casey Smith keeps legal so bands can play and people can be themselves. Shows sometimes go all night long. There isn't even a sign; you just have to know where it is. It doesn't get much more punk than that. Steve Watkins
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Macaroni Island 2311 Houston Pl., Denton
The terms do-it-yourself and punk are synonymous: The concept of a bare-bones, hole-i- the-wall venue is embraced with gusto by those looking for a space where they can play by their own rules. Thus the popularity of the house venue in North Texas, specifically in Denton where there seems to be an endless cycle of venues popping up and closing down as students move in an out of town. Students don't run the current leader of the crop, but instead by a Denton lifer decided he'd move past working with venues and have his own spot. That's how Macaroni Island became a haven for bands looking to tour without dealing with venues, and still put on the best show they could. Hopefully the spirit, and venue, stay strong. JPF