Best Cool Off 2007 | Allen Spray Park | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
This blessedly wet and weird summer aside, there is no season in North Texas more brutal, more unrelenting than June, July and August, especially if you've got kids. Hopefully, you have a pool, or at least access to one, but if not, head over to the Allen Spray Park. Even if you live south of LBJ, it's worth the drive. The park includes a big spray gun, a tunnel that sprays mists of cool water and geysers that shoot up from the ground. Best of all, the spray ground's pumping system is now being retrofitted to allow it to operate on re-circulated water.
Couple problems here. "Metro Politics" really isn't a column. It's a little explanatory title that the News puts over stories by Gromer Jeffers, local political reporter. And Jeffers isn't supposed to be considered a columnist. But the larger truth is that Jeffers is a better columnist than any of the typists at the News who are supposed to be columnists. He takes you inside local government. (If you happened to read his take on why the proposed University of North Texas law school at Dallas died in the Legislature, for example, you saw that it got doused in a pissing match between state Senator Royce West and state Representative Yvonne Davis, both Democrats of Dallas.) Jeffers also gives you some flavor for where and when politics gets done in the real world. Seems like half his stories include references to stuff said at tables or just outside the front door of Brooklyn Jazz Café. That's cool. If the News was smart, they'd stick his picture on top of his stories and call him an official DMN columnist. No, wait. Better to leave him where he is: as the best columnist who isn't one.
Some people like a sense of place when it comes to night spots. There's a certain comfort in crossing the same threshold weekend after weekend, but even Studio 54 got tired after awhile. When it comes to something as subject to the whim of trends as a dance club, sometimes it's better to have a little breathing room. So we love that the guys in Central Booking—a DJ collective featuring guys who call themselves Nature, Sober, Select and Prince Klassen—keep the party moving, literally. Their traveling dance party, aptly named The Party, draws club kids, hipsters, preps, goths and anyone else who likes to let loose and shake it. We've Partied at Zubar, the Palladium Ballroom, some guy's house...if the floor's flat and there's available electricity, Central Booking will tear it up with classic hits, booty-bumpers and electronica like the yes-y'all. Check their blog for the location of the next show.
OK, we know you Farmers Branch people are scared—what with the "invasion" and all—but seriously, Oak Cliff has changed a lot since the last time you heard about it. Completely gentrified. Totally bland, McMansions all around. Sure, you might see a (gasp) Mexican or two, but we can assure you, they all speak perfect English and listen to Clay Aiken. No Tejano music down here. Just American flags and apple pie. So come on down—Interstate 35, exit Jefferson, roll the windows down and enjoy the view. You'll love it.
The Kettle Art Gallery really shouldn't exist. In a missive on the official Kettle Art Web site, co-owners Frank Campagna and Kirk Hopper admit that they rarely represent artists who sell work for bucketloads of cash. They have no major benefactor and don't live in the space or hold fund-raisers—all elements that keep most galleries afloat. To top it off, they're in Deep Ellum, the neighborhood everyone's been told to run far, far away from. But anyone who's been to Kettle knows better. Their strip of Elm Street is thriving. Campagna's and Hopper's marathon exhibition schedule, featuring everything from tattoo artists' works to horror-themed shows, keeps the gallery walls full of fresh new work from both underground and prominent local artists. It's all a mighty fine affront to conventional attitudes about how to make and sell art.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Some would say "dive bar" is an insult, but for us, Best Dive Bar is an enormous compliment. It means this place we're as comfortable in as our own living room. It's a place we respect for its attitude and its people. There's no pretense in a dive bar. No bullshit. And that's what the Lakewood Landing is about. (The bar's sign outside claims "an upscale dive," so we know we're all on the same page here.) The booths are worn like our couch cushions, the food goes down hot and easy and the cold beer goes down even easier. We can count on watching whatever game we care about on one of their several screens. We can play seriously great music as well as some guilty pleasures on the jukebox. We can suck at pool. And while we love knocking back a few with friends at the Landing, we also know we can sidle up to the bar comfortably alone knowing the keepers of the bar and kings of the kitchen treat good folks like family and don't take any shit from assholes.
First, a disclaimer. If you have a small, introspective dog, we do not suggest the White Rock Lake Dog Park, where your little critter will be swarmed by herds of yappy dogs upon arrival. So instead, we suggest taking your pet to the woodsy trails around the old Fish Hatchery adjacent to the White Rock spillway. It's rather peaceful there with plenty of wildflowers, streams and trees for your dog to sniff. But if you and your critter are looking for a more social experience, the White Rock Lake Dog Park, with its stunning views of the lake, remains a prime spot for man's best friend. There you have three areas, one for smaller dogs, the other for larger ones and a third with lakeside access for dogs who like to swim. The park can turn to mud after a drop of rain, but on sunny, dry days, it's a fun place to tire out your dog and meet people who share your irrational devotion to your pet.
The main gatekeeper of Club Dada goes only by the name of Beard. And, indeed, with his grizzled white-furred chin and Marine Corps insignia-laden jacket, the man resembles Santa Claus, if Santa were to ride a Harley. Also like Santa, Beard is jolly enough, and judicious but fair. If you're nice, he will check your ID, lead you right in and regale you with strange and amazing tales of the Deep Ellum of yore. If you're naughty, he'll punish you, and believe us, it's worse than a bag of switches.
Boys will be boys, but at The Rose Room, they'll be girls too. And these "girls" are the jewel in the crown of Station 4, one of the largest gay dance clubs in the country. Located on the upper level of the mega-disco, the cast of The Rose Room is the crème de la crème of America's female impersonators. The atmosphere is more nightclub than gay bar. A diverse crowd watches primo parades of tucked-in pulchritude. Included in the cast are a former Miss Gay America, a former Miss Gay USofA and a former Miss Continental. The gals kick off full cast shows at 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, with costumed production numbers and solo spots at center stage. Fan favorites include sexy blond bombshell Krystal Summers; Layla LaRue and her elaborate dance routines; the hilarious comic antics of Cassie Nova; and the legendary beauty of Maya Douglas. But the bloom on this rose belongs to Valerie Lohr, who has reigned as resident goddess of glamour for more 20 years. Her opulent wardrobe and wicked wit have made her one of the most enduring divas in all of dragdom. Check out for cover charges, special guest appearances and general information.
With his soft jowls and graying hair, James Crawford, 42, isn't a typical leading man. But Dallas theaters compete to cast this powerful actor, who's as versatile as John Lithgow, with a bit of Kevin Spacey's penchant for dark humor. At Contemporary Theatre of Dallas last season, he was stoic but romantic as Brit author C.S. Lewis in the tragic Shadowlands. At WaterTower he played a quietly enraged (and very drunk) George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He's done comedies at Theatre Three, classics at Dallas Theater Center (10 shows in five years) and worn jodhpurs for Echo Theatre. He's also acted at Theatre Britain, Stage West, Shakespeare Festival of Dallas and other regional and off-Broadway houses. He's been playing characters in their 40s "since I was in fifth grade," he says, and is now enjoying aging gracefully into more mature roles. There's no accent he can't perfect and no local leading lady who hasn't developed a bit of a crush on him, at least for the run of the show. His latest challenge was taking on multiple roles in DTC's Pride & Prejudice. Now teaching acting to undergrads and grad students at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts as an assistant professor, Crawford is a master of his art.

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