Dallas: Shining Bright in the Lone Star State
Posted: 11/16/2010 - 19:44
By Nick Vivion, gaytravel.com
It’s impossible to visit Texas with a virgin mind, uncorrupted by a steady diet of images in the media. So when I landed in Dallas, I immediately started stereotyping: visions of big hair, cowboy boots with spurs glinting in the sunlight, George W. Bush’s lopsided face, tumbleweeds, Jessica Simpson-as-Daisy Duke, and 12 oz. deep-fried sweet tea balls choked down in one bite.
Full disclosure: My family is from Dallas, and I used to have a Texas driver’s license and drove a white 1994 Honda Passport with Texas plates all through college. I have spent many a sweaty summer there, yet this is the first time that I have been here all on my lonesome. And also the first time I went head-to-head with my preconceived notions of the city.
But I digress. Dallas is a fantastic city that gets short shrift from many of us blue-blooded coastal liberals. It’s not as bad as you might think, and while ol’ Dubya does live a quiet life in tiny Highland Park, there is a lot here for the LGBT traveler.
An Progressive State of a Fair
The State Fair is home to everything that is Texas, including fried foods of all kinds, rides, livestock, shopping, cars and live country concerts for all ages. It truly is “super sized fun,” including the Texas Star, the largest Ferris wheel in North America.
The highlight for most people – or at least this particular author – is the smorgasbord of indulgent treats that could only be concocted in the Lone Star state: fried beer, fried club salad, fried guacamole, fired lemonade, fried chocolate, deep fried frozen margarita, fried butter, fried Snickers, corn dogs or the world-renowned Frito Pie. Come hungry, leave in a satiated food coma, follow up with your cardiologist in a week.
While it’s definitely a family atmosphere, there are plenty of LGBT folks who make their way to the fair each year. They come to eat, play games and explore. You even see some same-sex couples holding hands among the crowds.
The Ins, but Mostly OUTs of Oak Lawn
Texans are proud to say that everything is bigger in Texas, and while I didn’t get a chance to confirm this superlative in the obvious ways on my trip (I’m taken, fellas!), it’s clear that space is not an issue. One trip to “The Strip,” the center of gay life along Cedar Springs Road in Oak Lawn and you will see what I mean. The venues are gargantuan! Every place has at least one outdoor patio, and most have more than that. The interiors are also cavernous with multiple bars and plenty of room for people to lock horns (or lips if it may please them).
The concentration of gay life is also very convenient, allowing you to park once and visit several venues throughout the night. The biggest spots are the Round Up Saloon, recently nominated as one of the top gay bars in the world by TripOut, and S4, which is right across the street. S4 is a mixed crowd, but it’s so gay that even the straight boys are confused. The club has an outdoor patio, an enclosed and basically soundproof chill area, a giant dance floor with kinetic lights, and the Rose Room with drag shows every weekend.
Surrounding these nightclub behemoths are seven bars to whet your whistle: TMC, JRs, Sue Ellen’s, Havana, Woody’s (Is there one in every city?!), the Drama Room and Alexandre’s. In a 30-block radius, there are several other popular spots, like Kaliente, the Tin Room, BJ’s NXS, the Eagle, and Joe/Brick’s Bar.
See It to Believe It!
The Dallas Arts District is a culmination of a 25-year dream, and it does not disappoint. It’s an incredible feat, bringing together world-class performing spaces, restaurants and museums into a 19-block radius.
In fact, this is the largest urban arts district in the United States. Which makes it all the more appropriate that Dallas was recently named the number one city worldwide for art lovers by New York Magazine.
The Dallas Art Museum – with 23,000 works of art – anchors one end of the Disrtict, and One Arts Plaza holding court at the other. There is the statuesque Wyly Theatre, the sleek Winspear Opera House, the City Performance Hall, the Nasher Sculpture Museum, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Pritzker Prize-winning architects designed five of these venues: I.M. Pei (Meyerson Symphony Center), Renzo Piano (Nasher), Rem Koolhaas (Wyly Theater) and Sir Norman Foster (Winspear Opera House).
It’s all accessible with your two feet, and it’s a fun place to spend an afternoon if you love architecture, art and design.
The Big D’s Big Gay scene makes it a solid place to come for a gay holiday, or a regular ol’ holiday with a shade of gay. The vibe on the strip during the weekend is one of revelry, where it’s easy to make friends with the mostly inebriated. Dallas is an entertaining and relatively affordable place to party and a very pleasurable destination to get your gay on!
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