Nightlife in Expo Park is Flatlining

There are plenty of places in Dallas to go get drunk, but some neighborhoods have more charm and community than others. That's what makes us flock to them and to then keep coming back. This week, Dallas lost one of its best watering holes in Exposition Park's Amsterdam Bar. For an establishment that lasted nearly 20 years in such a fickle city, Amsterdam's departure doesn't bode well for the surrounding neighborhood.

See also: Amsterdam Bar Is Closing July Alley is a Deep Ellum Enigma That May Not Be Long for This World

In fact, it may amount to the area's nightlife scene being in serious risk of just dying out altogether. There will always be bars to sell drinks to people after their trips to the State Fair and pre-gaming for the Texas-OU game, but there's no denying that the loss of Amsterdam Bar makes it difficult to make a case that there is anything remotely approaching a nightlife culture in Exposition Park.

This is not to suggest that there are not other quality bars in Expo Park, but it's been a rough year for the neighborhood's bars. The closure of Amsterdam Bar follows the equally heartbreaking loss of The Meridian Room late last year, and it seems as if quality bars are an endangered species in the area. It would seem that the loss of overflow traffic from both Amsterdam and Meridian Room could put the neighborhood's spots that are still standing, like jazz club Sandaga 813, at risk. Here's hoping that that doesn't bear itself out, but it certainly won't make life any easier for them all the same.

The crowds will probably migrate down to Deep Ellum, which is just a short Uber or bike ride away, where there are plenty of joints with a neighborhood feel and a devoted crowd of regulars. From a pessimistic standpoint, it may be true that a thriving Deep Ellum will only make life harder on Expo Park, which is almost close enough to benefit from the overspill but just far enough away to be all-too-often forgotten about.

Still, even Deep Ellum's dive-iest spots are just as endangered, evidenced by last year's closure of July Alley. As Deep Ellum starts to attract more upscale spots like late-night fancy dranks spot XXVII Antique and forthcoming additions from local investor Scott Rohrman, it is likely that some of the neighborhood's grungier spots could be in trouble as foodie gentrification takes it over.

The only redemption here is that Double Wide is just down the street in Expo Park, and it has been consistently improving thanks to a devoted facelift effort from owner Kim Finch. The drinks are strong, there's a constantly interesting calendar of shows of all genres, and who doesn't love drinking in a bar that feels like your trashy cousin's old trailer house?

The kitsch of Double Wide is eternally appealing, but sometimes you just want to go to a dimly-lit spot and drink in peace with a jazz ensemble playing in the background. Having a beer at Craft & Growler isn't going to cut it, either. What's a person who doesn't want to mosh with a bunch of punk kids or drink a Tang-infused cocktail supposed to do? The answer to that remains to be seen.

The Exposition Park area has always been underutilized in Dallas, in a number of ways. Fair Park sits empty for far too many months of the year, but there still has to be a demand for people who come to the area's entertainment venues, like musicals at The Music Hall at Fair Park and Sons of Hermann Hall. Much like the development of the Dallas Arts District has brought great bars and restaurants to One Arts Plaza, maybe it's going to take a year-round calendar of programming at Fair Park and surrounding venues to consistently attract enough people to Exposition Park to keep the doors of the neighborhood bars open.


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Amy McCarthy