Dallas has always been home to a plethora of musical styles and genres, and one neighborhood in particular acts as a home to them all. Sure, you can scour the rest of DFW for these sounds and styles, but nowhere else can they be found in such close proximity to one another as they are in Deep Ellum. A disclaimer: Most of these venues offer multiple genres of music; this list is just a small slice of what can be heard on a single night.
Many make Deep Ellum their primary choice of destination for salsa dancing, and Cafe Salsera is número uno. Open late and always packed, this is a great place to show off your moves, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Dancing partners encouraged but not necessary.
Don’t have enough videos of you drunkenly yelling through '90s top-40 hits? Literally right across the street from the Salsera is Louie Louies, which should be an indicator on the chorus of voices you’ll hear from the crowd during the performances. This piano bar also boasts an open mic on Mondays, so get that music career in gear.
Dallas has always been at the forefront of new hip-hop and rap movements, though at times they may have been hard to find if you didn’t know where to look. A prime place to hear some of the best is at Trees, a longtime staple in the neighborhood music scene. In the past you could catch local-heroes-cum-national-acts Bobby Sessions and Blue the Misfit packing out crowds. Looking for a more chill atmosphere? Off the Record across the street offers DJs spinning the new-new and the old skool in a relaxed environment, though on the weekends there’s often a line out the door.
Looking for a solid beat to sweat out your workweek troubles? Look no further than Lizard Lounge, which hosts DJs and electronic artists both local, national and international touring acts every weekend. Bmp-tss Bmp-tss Bmp-tss your worries away.
Noise and Ambient
Tired of tonality’s fences making you feel aurally restrained? The doctor’s in and she prescribes a healthy dose of noise, followed by a light regimen of ambient sound. Both and much more can be found at RBC. The Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions on any given Monday night is a mainstay in the local noise and ambient scenes with acts like Schmeklehead, Filth and Atop.
Perhaps your tastes are a little more refined than the average Joe or Jane. While known for hosting mainly folk and country acts, AllGood Cafe still has you covered. There, pianists like Thiago X. Nascimento perform classical pieces on occasion for an intimate crowd.
Tuck in that pearl-snap and get ready to two-step. Adair's features local country artists who can really get you spinning and swinging. Headlining acts like Charley Crockett and Paul Cauthen have graced the tiny stage when they were making a name for themselves. Perhaps you’ll catch the next big thing, cowboy.
Punk and Rock
While there are many sub-genres of punk and rock these days, you’ll have no problem finding the most obscure and well-traveled at Deep Ellum’s punk paradise, Three Links. Hosting shows nearly every night of the week, this venue pulls rockers in from all over the city as well as passersby, especially when the garage doors are open in the front and the music blasting out into the streets.
Did we mention that there was musical diversity in Deep Ellum's venues? Monday and Tuesday nights at Three Links are exclusively kept for groups like CoLab and Friday’s Foolery, collectives with ever-changing members and guest performers who are the top talent in Dallas. Some of Erykah Badu’s crew shows up from time to time so try not to stare, you starstruck goof.
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In the '90s, metal was king in Deep Ellum. You can still find remnants of the dynasty at the long-lived Reno’s Chop Shop. This biker bar boasts live music most nights of the week with plenty of low end and thrash to make anyone’s head bang. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch locals like Imperial Slaughter and wonder if you’ve still got that bottle of Black No. 1 hair dye in your medicine cabinet.