Cowboy boots, belt buckles and rhinestones last night replaced the True Religion jeans and Dolce shirts for the preview party of the all-new “Neon Boots” in Houston.
Tight Jeans, Belt Buckles, and Rhinestones Dazzled “Neon Boots” Preview Party Last Night…But Nothing Out Shinned This New Country Western Dance Hall!!
Reminding me of the Brooks and Dunn song “Neon Moon”, this old rundown bar across from the railroad tracks…. is no longer! Well, the tracks are still there. But ain’t nothing run down any longer at this mega-dance hall.
Located just a half “Red Bull” or ”one cigarette from Montrose” outside 610 on old Hempstead Highway, Neon Boots sits off the highway in a oasis of it’s own, hidden enough off the old highway, to feel the sense of county tranquility.
Last night, arriving at 7:30pm, the parking lot was full with big dullys, parked next to Cadillacs and BMW’s. There is just something to be said about that. I almost looked on the side to see if I would find a horse trailer.
The historic Esquire Ballroom was once again a shining star. Full of cowboys and cowgirls, wearing their “Conway Twitty” tight fitting jeans and excited for their first glimpse of what is being called the largest LGBT Country and Western Dancehall in the Lone Star State.
The owners, a group of six individuals have set the standard of what “Country Should Be”. The old ballroom that once was a majestic jewel for Houston, and home to such acts as Willie Nelson, George Jones and Pasty Cline, has been transformed in to a spectacular Houston version of Billy Bob’s Texas, Dallas’ “Round Up” and the old Brazo’s River Bottoms all merged in one. I even bet Micky Gilly would approve.
Taking 10,000 plus square feet, and making it a warm and inviting place that country music lovers, and people that love country western dancing want to go, would be an up hill battle, one would think! Not apparently! This place, from the moment you park, you feel you have been transported into another world. One that takes you away from the big city lights of Houston, and into a small country town. Hell, you can even see the stars in the sky from the parking lot.
Walking thru the front door, besides the smiling face of the owners welcoming all the guests last night, is a magnificent giant Texas flag hanging on the stage. “You can almost visualize Patsy Cline on that stage,” says Neon Boots co-owner Jim Moore. “There’s such an amazing history here. The renovation has truly been a labor of love for us.” You can still smell the fresh paint, and the history, of country music that has walked where you currently are.
Neon Boots has a total of three full bars. One in the main room near the front entrance that hosts a total of 4 bartenders, a bar at the rear of the dance floor that has another 2 or 3 bartenders, and of course the a “quiet” room set off to one side of the dance floor, but do not fear. There are windows with a great view of the entire hall, a private jukebox and seating. This room has another 3 bartenders. Photos line the walls of the greats that have once performed here.
Tonight, the country legend (Neon Boots) has turned the BMW and Cadillac drivers into good ole country boys and girls. Sipping those cold ones, and eating BBQ!
The original gentleman that built this icon, Raymond Proske who is 89 years old, and his daughter made an appearance earlier in the evening to take a peak at what was “big portion of his life”, and seemed to be very pleased. His daughter Karen had this to say:
“Dad and I were so impressed with the new look you’ve given to the old Esquire. Dad had not seen inside the place since he closed it in 1995 and you can’t imagine how much today meant to him – and to I. He said y’all made him feel like a king. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Seeing the Esquire Room made a real impact on dad.” She continues ”He just didn’t know what to say. The Esquire was his life for 40 years and he missed it so much when he closed. He has so many memories and now it’s like his dream will live on in Neon Boots. We know that Neon Boots is going to be a great success.”
“Went to the exclusive pre-opening tonight. The crowd was great. This is a first class dancehall like none I have seen, with a huge dance floor, super lighting, lots of bars and servers, and a wonderful interior, with music that moved the crowd. A lots of friendly and happy faces.” States Robert Scott a patron that attended.
“From Meyerland it was 12 miles of mostly freeway and at 7PM took 15 minutes. Super location with lots of parking”. He adds. So one must ask, what’s all this fuss about “LGBT Bars can not survive outside the loop?”- If last night was any indication, then that old myth is out the window.
The show of support from community leaders at the preview party goes a long way in the un-said world of gay politics. Gone are the days that bar owners hated each other just because they owned another bar. Spotted in the crowd of guests were George Komar, owner of George Country Sports Bar. Woody Gould, owner of Guava Lamp. Jose Apodaca, Operations Manager for Charles Armstrong Investments. Jack Berger of Outsmart Magazine. Carol Wyatt, Tara Dion, AJ Mistretta of My Gay Houston. William Clevenger, co-owner of Rich’s Nightclub. Former owners of the BRB, Cliff Kitten and Darrin Winner. Also seen sporting their country music love was Karen Derr, Clay Kirby, Aaron Parrish, Darrin Brindle, Mark Eggleston, Dennis Beadle, Jonathan Westerman, Don Gill, Michael White, John Papagiannopoulos, and David Blanco.
So until next time I get dust off my cowboy boots, Im stuck… back in my city boy life. Dreaming of the time, I can be country again.