Best Place to See a Dallas Observer Staff Writer Put His Money Where His Mouth Is

Thursdays at XPO Lounge

Not too long ago, we finally conquered our fear of singing in public (aided and abetted by our friends Jack D. and Jim B.), and we couldn't have picked a better place than XPO Lounge, easily the finest (and hippest) karaoke night in Dallas. The tunes are spun by DJ Mr. Rid (who's been involved in the local music scene longer than guitar strings) and sung by a who's-who of Dallas musicians and scenesters. Don't go if you're expecting to trot out your sub-American Idol impersonations of Mariah and Whitney, because a usual night revolves around Cheap Trick, KISS and so on. Do go if you want to buy us a drink, because we'd be much obliged. We need all the liquid courage we can get.

Cosmic Café
Catherine Downes

Those who know only of yoga from watching Gomez stand on his head during reruns of The Addams Family can learn the art of the downward-facing dog and the proud warrior five days a week in the quiet, comfortable community room upstairs at Cosmic Café. The classes are taught by instructors who practice or teach at other locations and who offer a variety of different styles in an anxiety-free setting. It's a mix of regulars and newcomers, so that those new to the poses can learn without intimidation. The classes are free, which means you don't have to shell out $100 a month before you know whether you want to learn to bend like a pretzel. Donations are accepted, though. Call for class days and times.

RL's Blues Palace

Sadly, Dallas doesn't have many blues clubs these days, and most of the ones it does have traffic in the same kind of "blues" that made Steve Buscemi get queasy in Ghost World. Not R.L. Griffin's Blues Palace #2, owned and operated by The Right Reverend of Dallas Blues, R.L. Griffin. (Just in case you thought it was nothing more than a clever name.) If you've got the stones to stop thinking about what's happening to your late-model sedan out in the parking lot for an hour or three, it's well worth a trip, especially on Friday and Saturday, when you'll get a chance to witness Griffin's Show and Revue with Hal Harris and the Lo Lifers, the joint's house band. Testify!

Still can't beat this Deep Ellum institution, and not many people try. Yeah, there's the Elbow Room or Red Blood Club, at least whenever one of the groups in the Dallas Creative Music Alliance is onstage. But Sambuca doesn't just get this by default: They deserve it, doing everything a good jazz club should and then some. The sound is top-notch and so is the talent, and they even have the courage to challenge their clientele, booking acts such as a combo featuring drummer Earl Harvin, guitarist Bill Longhorse and laptop jockey Wanz Dover. That might not be Ken Burns' idea of jazz, but you can bet Miles Davis would be proud. And so are we.

Stevens Park Golf Course

Thinking about slipping out of the office early to get in a quick 18 holes before dark? There's no better place than this historic old course that has been in business since 1924. Located in the picturesque Kessler Park area, just two miles from downtown Dallas, the short (6,005 yards from the blue tees) but demanding layout is ideal for the golfer who likes a challenge but also hopes to score well. The narrow fairways are lined with native oaks, there's not a lot of water to worry about and there are 11 par 4s and four par 3s. And everyone goes home talking about the two-tiered 18th green. Open daily except for Christmas, weekday and weekend fees (including a cart) are less than $30. And juniors (18 and under) can play for about five bucks, or the cost of one bet you lost because you three-putted.

Best Place to See a Bartendress in a Belly Shirt Do a Handstand

The Green Elephant

Like an eclipse, you will see this rarely, but we have seen it, and it is a strange, wondrous site. It would be indecorous of us to mention the young woman's name, but let's just say when we first saw this phenomenon occur, we were misty-eyed. We walked into this bar near closing time on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, and we were taken aback by how jam-packed with collegiate drunkards this place was. (Note to selves: We are too old to go college-bar hopping...very often.) It was wall-to-wall hipsters and frat rats. But just when we were about to leave, because we were afraid it would be too difficult to quaff a beverage in peace, the sea of tight bellies parted and toward us came the bartendress, not only doing a handstand but walking on said hands, in her trademark belly shirt. Then, like Spider-Man's younger, hotter sister, she sprang to her feet and let out a wild-eyed "Woooo!" Needless to say, we stayed. You should, too. Never know when it will happen again.

Lizard Lounge

Not only does Lizard Lounge routinely feature some of the best DJs in the country (and some of the best in town, including Edgeclub host DJ Merritt), it's just about the sexiest club in town, and we don't mean just because there's a good chance some off-duty stripper might whip her top off at any given moment. Of course, that doesn't hurt. Whether you're looking to dance, hook up or both, this is your best bet. And, if we didn't stress this point earlier, there's a good chance some off-duty stripper might whip her top off at any given moment. Just saying.

Sons of Hermann Hall

Though Gypsy Tea Room books many of the same acts, Sons has one big advantage: room enough to dance. That, and it reminds us of the dance halls we grew up in, sneaking a sip from a can of Lone Star when our grandpa wasn't looking, dodging the two-stepping couples scooting their boots on the hardwood floor. It's a comfortable piece of home, even more comfortable after, oh, a dozen longnecks. You know, to get into the spirit of things.

Ash, Super Furry Animals, Spoon, Dieselboy, Deepsky, The Weakerthans, ALL, Pinback, Guided by Voices, Superdrag, South, James Hall, Supersuckers, Remy Zero, Chomsky, Clinic, The Apples in Stereo, The Vines, The Breeders, X-Ecutioners, The Coup, Blackalicious, Beulah, Sparta, Cranes, The Promise Ring, The Deathray Davies, My Morning Jacket, Nashville Pussy, Hank III, Dixie Witch, Bowling for Soup, Speedealer, The White Stripes, Trans Am, AK1200, DJ Dara, Bare Jr., Old 97's, Pleasant Grove, Bushwick Bill, Tomahawk, North Mississippi All-Stars, Reverend Horton Heat, Baboon. That's just naming a few, and that's just in the past year. Think that speaks for itself.

Yeah, we've given it to these guys before, but hey, this isn't your son's Little League team. We don't have to make sure everyone gets some playing time. If you suck, you ride the bench. Simple as that. So until someone comes along and does it better, we ain't changing the starting lineup. Look, we know there are plenty of other fine places to see live music--Muddy Waters, Trees, Liquid Lounge, Club Clearview, Barley House, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, Bar of Soap, even Curtain Club, Galaxy Club or Club Indigo if you catch 'em on the right nights--but none of them is as consistent as the Tea Room. You could never even go to another club in Deep Ellum or anywhere else and see the best in hip-hop (Jurassic 5, Common), rock (Wilco, Doves), soul (Erykah Badu, Musiq), country (Eleven Hundred Springs) or whatever (Earl Harvin Trio). We could go on, but I think you get the point. We'll just finish our thoughts next year at this time.

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