Best Reason to Go to Deep Ellum 2008 | The Public Trust | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

It hasn't been easy for artist Brian Gibb to move his Art Prostitute gallery—now called The Public Trust—from comfy confines down to the nitty-gritty of Deep Ellum. But Gibb is as committed to saving the neighborhood as the next guy; that's part of the reason he's there. And thanks to his efforts, Deep Ellum is becoming a new Williamsburg (Brooklyn), a gathering place for up-and-coming artists who have formed a loose-knit collective dedicated to building the local scene and putting it in the national spotlight. The work Gibb displays at the Public Trust is street-smart, subversive and oddly accessible to even the most neophyte art lover. There's an art to starting a forward-thinking movement like this.

Criminal District Judge John Creuzot has been a political prize for both parties since Dallas County woke up during the Reagan revolution in the mid-1980s and realized the courthouse was rife with partisan politics. Creuzot was originally appointed to the bench as a Democrat but had the survival instincts to jump ship in the mid-'80s, as did many Democratic judges coaxed to switch by Republican organizers and demographics. Creuzot's Republican street cred served him well, enabling him to hold onto his bench for several elections while he became one of the most innovative jurists this county has. He's implemented programs such as DIVERT court that provides addicts with alternatives to incarceration. A national voice in the drug court movement, he has recently been the creative force behind a kind of "Hookers Court," which tries to break the cycle of habitual prostitution. With the Democratic demographic shift in 2006, he again saw the handwriting on the wall. Facing accusations of opportunism, he is running as a Democrat in November and his party bosses couldn't be happier, seeing his flip-flop as a sign of the times. Of course, if McCain runs well in Dallas County and takes the bottom of the ticket with him, the Republicans will exact their own form of cosmic justice.

The Video Association of Dallas knows a lot about teamwork. Sure, it's easy for some folks to say they work best on their own, but nothing incites team building than a crazy-awesome movie contest that allows people to not only be on the big screen (you know you live for it), but also to finish their own freakin' film (even if it is five minutes long). Oh, and there's some talk about winning, but we all know it's for the team experience, not winning, right? This year around 100 teams participated in the VAD's seventh annual 24-Hour Video Race. The rules state that equipment (cameras, mikes, etc.) must be provided by the teams themselves. VAD only offers one mini-DVD tape to each team. It's a challenge made no less difficult by a required theme, location, prop and one line of dialogue. Teams must complete their entire entry (editing, musical score, credits, zany graphics and all) in 24 hours. It's a trying event that somehow makes everyone want to try.

It's one of the last remaining bastions of the old heydays of Deep Ellum, but since new ownership took the storied club over in late June, Club Dada has been wowing music fans by hosting an impressive schedule of well-known touring acts within the confines of its not-so-huge space. Changes are still in store for the club, and yes, there have been bumps along the way as the club's new owners have aimed to change the public perception of the venue, but for the most part, the renewed energy is not only welcome, but infectious as crowds slowly trickle back down to the once-legendary neighborhood.

Honestly, the Palladium Ballroom is more akin to an airplane hangar than an actual ballroom—even the main room at the House of Blues has more personality. The Loft upstairs, however, is another animal entirely, with great sound, a classy hardwood-and-brick decor and that rare aesthetic touch that escapes most local clubs: windows. It's the balcony outside that may be the best feature, with gorgeous, panoramic views of downtown and plenty of seating in case the opening band is skippable. On a nice night with the right band playing, there's really no better hangout in the city.


He's a three-peat choice in this category, but Randel Wright has little local competition in the area of theatrical set design. Wright now works full-time as design director for Dallas Children's Theater, but his exquisitely rendered and beautifully constructed set pieces have adorned stages at Dallas Theater Center, WaterTower, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, Circle Theatre and others. A midlife return to theater design was a big career risk for the architecturally trained designer, but he hasn't looked back since re-entering the theater world a few years ago. Dozens of productions later, he's at the top of his profession. Look closely at his sets. He doesn't just paint walls and pick out furniture. In his designs are visual interpretations of the playwright's work. For WaterTower's recent musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Wright's set wrote its own jokes. He incorporated dollar-store gewgaws all over the stage, edging the gauzy curtains with "fringe" made out of plastic spoons—a little dig perhaps at how much the actors were chewing the scenery with their performances.

Where can you find a great patio, tastefully funky art and décor, as well as a killer skyline view? This bar at the Belmont Hotel is the perfect combination of all three. Perched on a hill in Oak Cliff, the place looks out at the city with an attitude of decidedly confident and relaxed cool, a great combination for a lively birthday gathering or an intimate night out with your significant other. The cocktails are tasty, the service is friendly and efficient, and in the summertime, you can follow up happy hour with an acoustic concert poolside on the grass.

You say bowling alley; we say sports bar, because that's what it is, damn it. Sure, there are 30 state-of-the-art bowling lanes in the main area, and the score-keeping system is so high-tech and obvious, there is no hiding a bad game, though the black lighting offers some degree of anonymity. But just look at the name of the place: "300 Dallas." That conjures up a bar, a nightclub, scenesters, maybe even a strip joint. There is a large bar, an attentive waitstaff that will help you with the size of your balls and shoes, good pub grub and flat-screen televisions playing mostly sporting events and placed in front of you above the pin decks, one screen for every two lanes in the bowling alley. Sorry, sports bar.

Several years back, we accompanied Lodge owner Dawn Rizos to Las Vegas. No, for a cover story, jeez. Anyway, the occasion of the sojourn was a piece about Rizos, then vying for the award of Best Overall Club of the year during the annual Gentlemen's Club Owners Expo, where such prestigious honors are handed out. Never forget that trip: booze and boobs, chief among them the night's MC Pauly Shore. Well, after years of playing topless-bar Susan Lucci, the Lodge finally picked up the honor a few weeks back, and rightly so. Because, look, we won't beat around'll come clea...erm...straight up, this is th...ah, dang. Anyway, the long and short of it's this: classy joint in a seedy biz, no other way to put it. Drinks are expensive (it is a topless bar), but food's top-notch (lobster's always a winner, no kidding), the waitstaff's as kind as the Red Cross, and the ladies are superior to any other joint in town. Ask the men—ladies too, as every time we visit the joint's stocked with female customers for whom a trip to Northwest Dallas' finest might as well be a weekend in Vegas.

Buster Cooper can't stop dancing. Now in his mid-80s, the veteran tap master still teaches new generations of hoofers the intricacies of the art form he pioneered in Dallas more than 60 years ago. For half a century Cooper owned his own studio, and for 30 years he served as head of the dance department at Hockaday School. Patrick Swayze and Sandy Duncan are among his alumni and others have gone on to dance on Broadway in leading roles in A Chorus Line, 42nd Street and Cats. This summer the twinkly titan of tap took the stage in a special pre-show spectacular at the Dallas Summer Musicals' performance of The Drowsy Chaperone. His technique still is flawless, his crowd appeal greater than ever. Thanks, Buster, for giving your life to Dallas' dancers and never shuffling off to Buffalo.

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