School of Dallas 2023 | Dallasites101 Offers a Fresh Look at All There Is To Love About Big D. | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran
Kara Cecala and Lily Kramlich-Taylor
We’re here. Now what?”

It’s a safe bet that question is asked every day around Dallas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Texas was home to three of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the nation between 2020 and ’22, — Kaufman, Rockwall and Parker — and Collin and Denton county were among those with the largest net population gains.

Relocating to another metro area is daunting, but luckily immigrants to Dallas have a resource designed to make them feel right at home: Dallasites101, created by Kara Cecala and Lily Kramlich-Taylor. They’re Dallas immigrants, naturally: Cecala is from Connecticut and Kramlich-Taylor from California. They met through mutual acquaintances after moving to Dallas for work in 2014 and bonded over a shared love for their new home.

“We kept meeting a lot of other transplants who didn’t love living in Dallas,” Kramlich-Taylor says. “They would talk to us about how they would go to work and go home and didn’t know how to meet people. They didn’t enjoy the city, and it made us really sad to hear because we were having so much fun.”

The pair started an Instagram page to share their experiences with other newcomers.

Dallasites101 — the name is a riff on introductory college courses — was created in 2015. The original goal was to serve a niche market of newcomers. After the two got their first offer of money from a local restaurant to place a post on their Instagram site, the model shifted as more offers came in.

Today, calling them influencers is a stretch. Cecala and Lily Kramlich-Taylor’s creation has become a small, booming media and marketing business located in a converted house in the State-Thomas District. They employ more than two dozen people and have expanded into newsletters, event planning, advertising and media management.

Planners naturally look to the future, and the pair already have their eyes on further expansion. They’ve created Austinites101 on Instagram, and they founded 101Media as an umbrella group for their efforts, which include managing social media for businesses and possible expansion into other cities. Cecala says they’re moving carefully on entering other markets, since key to their success here is the fact that they are here, talking knowledgeably about the city they grew to love.

In the meantime, their website continues to expand and has become a go-to resource loaded with event news, lists of popular venues and businesses, and news on the latest trends.

“We truly just wanted to encourage people to get out and about in Dallas and have a great day here and not second-guess living here,” Cecala says. “We really felt like we wanted to create community here.”

Courtesy Blake Ibanez

Following 2022's scorching debut EP Maniac, North Texas metal lords Fugitive are already back for more blood. The supergroup includes guitarist Blake Ibanez of Power Trip fame, plus members of Creeping Death, Scourge, Impalers and Stymie. Fugitive recently dropped a music video for its latest devastating thrash cut, "Blast Furnace," melding an old-school, VHS aesthetic with seriously sick new riffs. Watching "Blast Furnace" feels like viewing history in the making: Fugitive is well on its way to securing metal legend status. Mark our words.

Courtesy of HBO Max

Love & Death, starring Dallas native Jesse Plemons and Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision, Wind River), is a masterwork based on a true-crime tale that unfolded in nearby Wylie. In the limited series, Olsen plays Candy Montgomery, a bored housewife who strikes up an affair with her friend's husband (Plemons). Things then go terribly wrong, as in ax-murder wrong. Love & Death is pitch-perfect North Texas circa 1980. Filmmakers got everything right, from the accents to the small-town rumor mill to supporting actress Krysten Ritter's closer-to-God hair. This show better bring home all the dang awards or we'll lose even more faith in humanity.

Adan Cedillo

This sophomore LP from Frozen Soul is further proof that Dallas is home to the most cutthroat metal around. The band is upping the undead ante with 2023's Glacial Domination, an impressive effort co-produced by Trivium's Matt Heafy, with guest appearances by North Texas' Reese Alavi (Creeping Death) and Blake Ibanez (Power Trip, Fugitive). Glacial Domination's bone-chilling death metal is the perfect tonic to Texas' stupid-hot summers, and its ambitious-yet-accessible tracks will rattle around in your skull for days. Frozen Soul is definitely the band to watch.

Alicia Anthony Claytor

This born-and-raised Dallas Democrat is gearing up for the match of his life. Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Colin Allred announced his entry into the 2024 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Allred, a former NFL athlete, impressed politicos in 2018 when he flipped Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions' seat blue. Now he's bringing that same fighting spirit to take on GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. Allred has rapidly expanded his name recognition and reported robust campaign fundraising. His dedication to bipartisan legislating makes him the advocate that Texas desperately needs in the Senate.

Emma Delevante

Oh, Longhorn Ballroom: How we missed thee. The irreplaceable Dallas music venue recently came back with a bang after Edwin Cabaniss, who's also behind The Kessler, bought it in 2021. The Longhorn's much-anticipated renovation was well worth the wait, as it now serves as a mini-music museum where concertgoers can take in history while sipping a beer. Over the years, the Longhorn has been visited by country-music gods like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Haris, Merle Haggard and Asleep at the Wheel. Here's to a bright future, Longhorn.

Pablo Iglesias

GOP lawmakers may have succeeded in banning abortion statewide, but reproductive rights groups haven't stopped working to get folks the care they need. The Texas Equal Access Fund continues to help low-income North Texans attain abortion care by offering financial and emotional support. Those who can't afford to travel out of state for an abortion can contact this nonprofit for assistance. TEA Fund tirelessly advocates to correct misinformation and break down stigmas surrounding abortion. The organization's work is more crucial today than ever.

Courtesy of DMA

Some shows may be splashier or garner more ink, but the DMA's Saints, Sinners, Lovers, Fools: 300 Years of Flemish Masterworks is the must-see exhibition of the year. This irreverent yet elegant collection of more than 130 rarely seen works from The Phoebus Foundation in Antwerp, Belgium, includes work by Hans Memling and Peter Paul Rubens. Saints unveils the best and worst of the human condition, from ethereal paintings of the Nativity and the Magi to whimsical portrayals of medieval life full of greedy merchants and frolicking fools. The intricate brushwork and incredible details keep audiences returning for more: The DMA has extended the exhibition through Oct. 15, 2023.

Beya Gilles Gacha

The Dallas art scene has gone through ebbs and flows in the past decade, but we are definitely on an upswing when spaces like Keijsers Koning join the mix. Delivering art of all media and aesthetics with a dollop of humor, the gallery opened in early 2022 and has a little something for everyone. Its Art Fair offerings were particularly droll, with a rainbow troll doll sculpture by Brent Birnbaum and neon cherry pierced by a screw by Tamara Johnson. Curator/owner Bart Keijsers Koning isn't afraid to mount work with a bit of controversy, either. Recent exhibitions have included the feminist-focused Breathing Among Werewolves group show and an exhibit of work by industrial pioneer/provocateur Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Eric Heist, to name a few.

Attending the theater can heighten emotions, but should one expect to laugh, cry and dance? Very Good Dance Theatre has a magical way of creating space for audience members to become participants through immersive performances that have a wide range of content. It could be the intimate scenes from collaborative works with movement monologues that will make you weep or The Annual Gay Show, a production that is absolutely wild, challenging the perceptions of what dance should be and redefining what it means to be "good." Fortunately, that can include everything from bondage to ritualistic poetry that ends in a sparkle party disco. Absolutely wild, absolutely profound, absolutely perfect.

Event locations vary.

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