To call a place a honky-tonk is almost as nebulous as labeling a place a dive bar. Ask five different people what one is, and you're more than likely to get six different answers. Of course, North Texas has dozens of places that complement any of them.
The earliest published mentions of the term honky-tonk might have actually come from newspapers in the DFW area as far back as 1889. Published definitions consist of words such as "tawdry," "cheap" and "noisy." In the early days of honky-tonk culture, a piano was the single most important instrument in the building, not pedal steel, jukebox or the cigarette machine. Things have certainly changed, and to paraphrase Rangers' manager Ron Washington, that's just "how progress and country music go."
Regardless of scholarly definitions, demographics or the carpet-bagging corporate entities that have tried to wave their flag in the region, there are still a few wonderfully tawdry, cheap, sharpie-marked places that let folks dance and beer slosh around.