The Goat
Even though it's not as part and parcel of Dixie as, say, Mobile, Alabama, Dallas is still a pretty Southern town. It is, as well, a music town, though you'd never know it judging from the dearth of national coverage. And, let's not forget the bloodline of blues legacy that runs through Deep Ellum—with all the Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson lore that takes place in that locale, you'd think Main and Hall was the site of a certain legendary crossroads. Odd, then, that Dallas doesn't boast many blues clubs, though we do have our fair share of white boys trying their hands at it, precious few of whom have actually achieved transcendence in the genre (thanks, Vaughn brothers, for keeping real). Still, we've got what no other city has: The Goat. The place kicks it no frills gen-u-ine, with dog-eared tables and karaoke that most folks dig without a trace of irony. This is a place where hipsters and regular ol' people mingle with ease, any differences they might have smoothed out by music and booze—and isn't that what the blues are all about?
Hoots
Ah, the intoxicating scent of a true honky-tonk: smoky, boot-scuffed wood infused with years of spilled Bud Light and a hearty pinch of tobacco. Big-name places such as Billy Bob's and Cowboys purport to provide visitors with a high-quality honky-tonk experience, and they do a fine job, but they just don't have that sweet honky-tonk smell. Not, at least, the way Hoots does. The skating-rink-sized dance hall is situated way out in Rendon, so fancified big-city line dancers might scoff at making the drive, but any true boot-scooter knows there's some real getting down to be done in the boonies. Holler your favorite tune at the band, and chances are the boys (and girl!) can pull it off. In fact, do a turn or two to some Hank Jr., just for us. 'Preciate it.
There may be better places to see a show in North Texas, but for communal atmosphere, it's hard to beat Secret Headquarters, the DIY, blink-and-you'd-miss-it lair of musicians, artists and eccentrics just off the Denton square. Located in the old Art Prostitute space, SHQ is the definition of laid back, with no real stage (unless you count a rug and some lamps in the corner) and only one unisex bathroom. And with no pool tables or flat-screen TVs, you only have two options: watch the bands—could be country bands, could be noise bands, could be punk bands, could be singer-songwriters, could be all of the above—or sit in the alley and drink. It's that simple. And it's that beautiful.
Lee Harvey's
Where else in Dallas can you stand around a campfire—or lounge on a nearby hammock, for that matter—while listening to live music with a bottle in your hand? Standing in the wide, rustic yard in the dark, it's easy to pretend you're in the Texas Hill Country or even back at summer camp, except instead of roasting marshmallows you're nursing a beer. And the best part? The thing about campfires is that somehow they make it nearly impossible to be uptight, cocky or generally idiotic, the result being a mellow crowd just out for a good time under the stars.
So what if most of the swimmers at the UP pool have their own swimming pools back at the mansion. This isn't about practicing the dog paddle. It's about navigating certain social circles. Splashing among the skinny MILFs and young nannies, you'll find the scions of some of the wealthiest families in the Park Cities. OK, they're still in swim diapers and water wings, but someday they'll inherit everything they have no idea right now that they're entitled to. Hang out by the snack bar or shaded baby pool to hear waves of good gossip about who's who (and who's leaving who). On summer nights they have free "dive-in movies" featuring screenings of family comedies while you float. The catch is, to get wet here, you have to have a UP address on your ID or be the guest of someone who does. They wouldn't want the hoi polloi polluting the waters, dontcha know.
Dallas Museum of Art
It's downtown Dallas at its best. On the third Friday of every month, the Dallas Museum of Art hosts the best party in town, opening its doors and its collection until midnight. Anchored off the glimmering Dallas skyline, the museum is an especially festive place at night, inviting to art lovers and partygoers alike. With tickets only $10, an evening at the museum won't tear through your checkbook like the rest of the Dallas late-night scene, and with a provoking modern art collection—our absolute fave is Chris Burden's "All the Submarines of the United States of America"—you and your date are sure to have plenty to talk about.
Come on, admit it. For sheer guts alone, you have to hand it to freshman city council member Angela Hunt, who stood up to the entire bunch on the Trinity River toll road issue. What makes Hunt the best council member is not so much the position she took on that river thing, but that she had the courage to do it and not be a nut case about it. When we read about her or see her on the tube, she's always calm, cool and collected. And except for the Trinity deal, she seems to play well with others. It's something about being smart, thinking for herself and doing what she thinks is right. Is that not a plan?
This DJ shit sometimes gets on our nerves, what with the boy culture and the wheelspinners' propensity to try to out-obscure each other at the expense of alienating the dance floor. Oh, and then there's that whole club mindset, in which anything that's not house music with a beat that sounds like a cat barfing isn't considered danceable. That's where DJ Wild in the Streets comes in; she's adept at digging some gems out of her crate that will please the purist and the casual booty-shaker alike, all without succumbing to remix fever. This is a woman who knows that if you provide the international pop, the Stax classic and the classic backbeat, they will come.
Let's get this straight—this is not a category for best beer joint or best place to get a cheap brew or best place to scope some SMU co-ed you have no chance with. This is best cold beer in town. And it goes to Gezellig, because every single one of the dark, slightly upscale spot's draught brewskis is run through that little tube thing that connects the keg with the tap, just like any other bar, except at Gezellig, that tube is kept ice cold, and from the tap the liquid goes straight into a chilled glass. The warmest thing that beer will touch is your lips, baby. Hey, that's our new pickup line.
Backdoor Comedy
For stand-up comedians, stage time trumps all, including spouses, children, international incidents and most major sporting events. There's nothing more important than the opportunity to make drunk people laugh. It's about gaining experience, about learning what makes the masses guffaw. Nobody knows this better than Linda Stogner and Jan Norton, who, for the past 15 years, have hosted comedy shows in the backs of bowling alleys, delis, pizza parlors and other unlikely venues. Calling their operation the "Backdoor Comedy Showcase," Stogner and Norton have championed both up-and-coming and veteran comics. They were booted from their first official comedy-only space on Ross Avenue this year to make room for another soulless corporate headquarters, but that hasn't stopped the pair, who continue to host shows anywhere they can draw a crowd. For that, we give them our most sincere rubber chicken salute.

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