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Students, B-CS residents mourn the Hall’s closing

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

hall

Josh McKenna — THE BATTALION

Following the death of Johnny “The Colonel” Lyon, founding owner of the Texas Hall of Fame, the danc

To the dismay of many students and Brazos County residents, an iconic dance hall officially closed its doors.

Texas Hall of Fame, the place where avid two-steppers gathered in boots and jeans, shut down Dec. 22, 2011. As per owner Johnny Lyon's request, the Hall closed nearly 13 months after his death. Lyon struggled with lung cancer before he died in November 2010.

"It killed me," said Blair Jones, senior communication major, when he heard about the closing.

Jones, who prefers to wear his signature beige cowboy hat to class, said he has always embraced his country roots and said the Hall was an outlet for him to unwind. From two-stepping on college night to spending a Sunday at an Aaron Watson concert, he said the Hall was truly a legend.

 "I was upset because — out of all the places in College Station — that's the one place I liked dancing at the most. It has a lot of history and the concerts there were fantastic," Jones said. "There's no place like it."

Texas Hall of Fame was a popular dance hall and bar for more than 33 years. A place full of rich history, the large dance hall was equipped with a polished wooden floor, a full service bar and a stage crafted for big name bands such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. The Hall's closing is a loss to many B-CS residents, as well.

After attempts to contact Bryan city officials, the future of the Hall and the land it occupies remains uncertain.

One Bryan resident and former dance instructor at the Hall, Susan Quiring, said it was sold to Walmart.

Quiring also said Walmart was pursuing Lyon for several years to buy and renovate the Hall into a distribution center.

"The Johnny Lyon I knew would have never sold out to Walmart, at least not while he was still alive," Quiring said.

Quiring said that she remembered Lyon as someone who put his heart and soul into the famous bar. She said it was a place to preserve traditional country western music — from songs such as "Suds in a Bucket" to "Men Don't Change" and "Pickin' Wildflowers."

 "He really tried to keep it true to the country western music," Quiring said. "Johnny really wanted to keep the country western spirit alive."

Quiring said she witnessed history unfold after spending nearly two decades at the famous saloon watching feminine trends of long flowing skirts shift in the 90s to a more contemporary style of blue jeans worn by both sexes. The memories of funky polka bands playing live concerts in the summer months are images that still ring true for Quiring, a unique tradition that was "typical Johnny."

Jennifer Wilkenson, Class of 2009, said that she spent almost every week at the Hall since she was a freshman. After taking classes from the Aggie Wranglers in 2006 she, similar to Quiring, started teaching free dance classes on Thursday nights.

"We would take these people who could barely hold a beat and, week after week, we would see people getting better, which was probably the best part of teaching — watching these people who couldn't carry a beat in the beginning and build up the confidence to ask people to dance and have a fantastic time," Wilkenson said.

From meeting her best friends, to eyeing her future husband from a table nearby, Wilkenson said some of her best memories from College Station came from nights two-stepping at the Hall. She said she couldn't believe a place with so much history may never see another pair of boots scuff the floor.

"If someone could reopen the hall I think that it would have life — forever. There will always be a demand for original country western dance halls, and there are so many people who are upset about the Hall because they want that to continue," Wilkenson said. "Nothing will ever rival the hall."

 

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