Through COVID deaths, unemployment, shutdowns and political unrest, a glowing beacon of hope lit Dallas in 2020: the culture scene, which stayed strong, innovative and weirder than what Austin thinks of itself.
Here are 45 reasons we are thankful for Dallas culture this year:
1. Aurora adjusting its model to let us marvel at local art in dark parking lots. Because the last thing we needed was to become sick, paranoid, unemployed, jaded and on top of it — and even worse — basic.
2. The locals who made masks, donated masks and wore masks without throwing a fit.
3. The people who did throw a fit over wearing a mask, but got filmed, went viral and reminded us not to be that guy.
4. Voters who really did care.
5. Protesters. Not the MAGA caravans nor the hoaxers. The summer of protests with the message that Black Lives Matter.
6. Protest art. Dallas artists took to the streets to amplify the cause through tributes to victims of police brutality, the words “Black Lives Matter” painted across City Hall, and even a flying banner with the words “My neck hurts,” in a work by Jammie Holmes.
7. Other street art. A quick look at Deep Ellum tells us that influencers have more than enough backdrop options for their photos. Uh, yay.
8. The livestreams. This year, we were able to watch an abundance of local artists without having to support their shows in person, because what kind of friends would we be if we actually showed up?
9. Through closings and controversies, comedy clubs in Dallas kept making us laugh. And when we weren’t laughing at local comedy, there was a sign outside of Preston Hollow that read “Keep godless socialism out of America — Trump 2020.”
10. Local galleries giving us options to shop online through virtual showings or to pick up art curbside.
11. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s innovative ways to keep us high-brow: performing on roaming trucks, to hospital patients, and even curbside.
12. Online film festivals, which stopped us from watching The Office for the fifth time. Nope, didn’t stop us. We lied.
13. The rise of North Texas actors like Jonathan Majors and Julio Cesar Cedillo, who restored the good name taken away from us by Tomi Lahren and Robert Jeffress.
14. The Nines in Deep Ellum, Double Wide, Three Links and other venues that stayed closed or found ways to keep music going, but safely. We needed someone to be the voice of reason.
15. Dallas theater companies that offered online plays and drive-in shows.
16. Major museums and the AT&T Performance Art Center, which kept us entertained through online content.
17. The Dallas parks, no matter how crowded, which kept us from climbing up our walls.
18. Radio stations like KXT and KNON, which built in-home studios and rebuilt after tornado damage, respectively, to keep listeners from going without indie music — even though we don’t have much of a commute and a chance to listen.
19. Richard Haskins is as wild as ever.
20. Themed rental homes on AirBnB, which allowed us to travel through staycations.
21. The new Back to the Future-themed bar in Fort Worth, because this year more than ever, we needed to believe in time travel.
22. The fact that Dallas now has more CBD shops than nail salons. OK, we’re getting hysterical. There are a shit-ton, though, and it's one step closer to legalizing it.
23. The Gayborhood. This year, Cedar Springs proudly flew its rainbow flags by painting them on crosswalks.
24. Outdoor tables in Bishop Arts, where we could sit and stay COVID-safe while basking in the illusion of normalcy.
25. The resurgence of drive-in theaters, because movies are important events in our life, not something to be watched out of the corner of our eye while folding laundry.
26. Record stores. Music is not meant to be interrupted by a call by a telemarketer. (Who should stop asking if we are the property's owner; we're millennials. We only own iPhones.)
27. The buildings in downtown lighting up to commemorate special occasions, and the placement of the two giant balls at the bottom of the Reunion Tower, gifting us a yearly Christmas penis.
28. Dezi 5 moving back to Dallas.
29. Tomi Lahren moving out of Dallas.
30. Mark Cuban announcing that he will continue to pay hourly American Airlines Center workers for the remainder of the then-canceled NBA season.
31. Mark Cuban taking in struggling former Mavericks player Delonte West and helping West get into rehab.
32. Mark Cuban.
33. The Rose Room’s and drag legend Cassie Nova’s Freak Show, which now broadcasts live on Facebook and Twitch every week to make sure that queer Dallasites and their allies get their life, hunny.
34. The Cake Bar's vending machine.
35. The Dallas Stars’ cute new highlighter green and black jerseys that will surely get us to watch at least part of a game next season.
36. Venue worker advocates who are looking to ensure that workers get their fair pay from the Save Our Stages Act.
37. The Real Housewives of Dallas’ Mama Dee’s accent.
38. The Real Housewives of Dallas’ Mama Dee’s hair.
39. Every Taco Cabana To-Go margarita flavor except pumpkin spice.
40. The Wild Detectives and Deep Vellum Books, for offering the only paper products truly worth hoarding this year.
41. Online lectures from the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights museum because the fight for social equity doesn’t stop because of a pandemic.
42. Hot cable news anchors during election coverage. Not naming names so as not to objectify any particular individual, but you know who you are.
43. Learning about racial and queer tolerance and basic human decency from artist Christina Moreland with her Instagram artwork.
44. The TikTok “For You” algorithm.
45. Bartenders and waiters who risk their lives every day to ensure that we’re fed, entertained and socially distant.