Dallas (Cue “Dallas” Theme Song)
Words: Russell Boaz
When anyone thinks of Dallas, most likely the first image they have is of J.R. Ewing and Southfork Ranch, JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald, trucks and cowboys, big hair and big egos. They probably don’t think of Dallas as being a gay destination. But they couldn’t be more wrong: Dallas has the sixth largest gay population in the US, plenty of gay city officials, and it even has the world’s largest gay and lesbian church, The Cathedral of Hope, boasting over 30,000 members. There are even two “gaybourhoods”: Oaklawn at the intersection of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs and the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.
There are no direct flights to Dallas from Hong Kong. You can fly to Seoul via Korean Air and there are daily flights from Seoul to Dallas (DFW International Airport). DFW International Airport is a hub for American Airlines and you could fly to Dallas via Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York and then catch a flight to Dallas from one of those cities.
You need a car for Dallas. While there is a public transport system and a light rail, it is not the best and could take a while to get to most destinations because Dallas is very spread-out.
Warwick Melrose Hotel
Located in the heart of Oaklawn, the Warwick Melrose Hotel is a luxury hotel with an old-world feel. Since a lot of the gay bars you’ll go to will be in Oaklawn, it’s pretty damn convenient. Especially when you’re planning on a drink or two hundred.
Located in North Oak Cliff near the Bishop Arts District, The Belmont Hotel is lovely boutique hotel with one of the most amazing views of the Dallas skyline. The Belmont Bar, one of the best bars in Dallas, is a fun place to watch the eclectic-but-trendy Dallas crowd.
A hotel fit for a Queen (Queen Elizabeth II stopped by here on a visit to Texas) or a queen, The Adolphus is a historic, luxury hotel located in the heart of downtown Dallas. Built in 1912, this very Victorian looking hotel is a great place to stay and is within walking distance to many sites downtown.
According to a recent survey, Dallas has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the US – one for every 469 residents. So it’s hardly surprising that eating out is a local pastime. Texas is of course known for its steaks, BBQ and Tex-Mex, but Dallas has a huge range of other cuisines on offer.
Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse
Ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket – this is not a place to go for vegetarians. Sonny Bryan’s has been serving up BBQ in Dallas since 1910 and it is some of the best BBQ you will find in Dallas. Definitely try the pulled pork sandwich and the Frito Pie (this isn’t a dessert; it is a dish made with Frito chips, Chili and cheese).
Two words: Mambo Taxi. The best margarita you will ever have. It is a blend of Sauzo Blanco Tequila and Sangria. Just one will make you feel buzzed. They serve traditional Tex-Mex food including enchiladas, tacos, homemade tortillas, and heaps of others to satisfy your Mexican food cravings.
Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse
If there is one things Texans really love, it is steak – the rarer, the better. A contemporary steakhouse located in the heart of downtown Dallas, Nick & Sam’s has a prime selection of meats and seafood.
Dallas might seem all oil-rigs and 10-gallon hats, but there’s a serious cultural, as well as historical, side to the city.
There are museums galore, including the incredible Perot Museum of Nature and Science. If you’re a history/conspiracy theory buff, don’t forget, this is where JFK was shot. The Sixth Floor Museum is housed in the former book depository from where Lee Harvey Oswald ‘allegedly’ assassinated JFK. Afterwards, go to Dealey Plaza and listen to all the conspiracy theorists. Maybe you’ll figure out who exactly was on that grassy knoll.
Fans of the TV series Dallas (RIP Larry Hagman) should dig out their biggest shoulder pads and head down to Southfork Ranch, where it was all shot.
If you feel like doing a bit of shopping, NorthPark Center is a mix of mall and art museum (there are even Andy Warhol paintings hanging in this mall), or go to the original Neiman Marcus that is located downtown. Another great area is the Bishop Arts District (http://bishopartsdistrict.weebly.com/index.html), which has over 60 independent boutiques, shops and restaurants. It used to be the bad part of town, but ‘gaytrification’ has turned it into one of Dallas’s most fabulous districts.
State Fair of Texas
If you’re lucky enough to be in Dallas around the end of September, you have got to visit the State Fair Of Texas. It is everything you could want out of a fair and more (there are car shows, fair ride, concerts, shows, etc.). The largest state fair in the US, the fair is famously known for its imaginative fried food creations. I’ve tried fried Coke, fried beer, fried butter, fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches, fried mac and cheese, fried bacon cinnamon roll. The list could go on indefinitely. It’s first-hand evidence of how America has topped every obesity poll on record, but believe me, fried stuff just tastes better!
Oaklawn is the center of LGBT nightlife. Most of the bars are located along Cedar Springs, but last call always happens at 2 AM, when bars in Dallas have to stop serving alcohol. Take note that this means that all bars will close at that time. A few dance clubs might stay open past two but with no alcohol service.
The Round-Up Saloon
For those who want their Brokeback Mountain cowboy fantasy, grab your cowboy hat and cowboy boots and go here. It is a large bar/dance hall/Karaoke place where you can find gay cowboys, drag queens and urbanites having a beer, line dancing, two-stepping and conversing together. Even Lady Gaga goes here every time she performs in Dallas (it was one of the places she performed when she was starting out and she comes back every time she is in town to show her appreciation). They even have dance lessons during the week to practice your two-stepping. Friday and Saturday night is when the bar is packed with wall-to-wall people.
One of the best dance clubs in Texas, Station 4 is a 24,000 square foot dance club with fifteen bar stations, and a large dance floor. For those that are not into dancing, there is The Rose Room upstairs where some of the top drag performers in Texas and the United States perform. Station 4 stays open past last call, so even though you cannot drink past 2 AM, you can still dance.
Taken from the name of a character from the television series “Dallas” (there is also a bar right besides Sue Ellen’s called JR’s), it is Dallas’ only lesbian bar. It is a 2-story club that includes a dance floor, bars, a sound proof room where live bands play as well as pool tables. The vibe here is very chilled and very laid back.