For those still reeling from the sudden demise of Brazos River Bottom . . . lament no more.
Houston is gearing up to become home to the largest LGBT country-western bar in Texas thanks to the new Neon Boots, which is set to throw open its doors for the first time on Aug. 22 for a full weekend of kickin', steppin' and shufflin'.
Situated on Hempstead Highway just below 34th Street, the new 10,000-square-foot dance hall has risen from the ashes of the Esquire Ballroom — the storied music venue that played hosted to country music legends like Jim Reeves and George Jones.
The largest gay bar in Texas is roaring into Houston: And you'd better bring your cowboy boots
The one and only Willie Nelson penned the song "Night Life" chronicling his days performing at the iconic ballroom, which just so happens to be the setting for the Broadway musical Always . . . Patsy Cline.
Now, it's being touted as the largest gay bar in all of Texas.
"You can almost visualize Patsy on the stage," laughs 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 almost visualize Patsy on the stage," laughs co-owner Jim Moore.
After the Esquire closed in 1995, the building has hosted a hodgepodge of other ventures, including its most recent incarnation — a space-themed gay club Planeta Rojo.
"When we first got here, the walls were completely covered in black and there were stars and planets painted on the ceiling. It's been quite the project turning the place back to the country and western club."
The interior's undergone a Lone Star makeover fit for polkas and line dancing — a blue and red color scheme broken up by swaths of cedar-plank paneling and corrugated metal wall treatments. A performance stage backed by a huge Texas flag overlooks the biggest country dance floor in Houston. The owners hope to install a mechanical bull, sand volleyball court and an area for horseshoes.
In addition to its five drinking stations, Neon Boots has carved out a separate bar called the Esquire Room that will be dedicated to the building's past.
Moore and his fellow owners hope their club will fill the void left after the closure of Brazos River Bottom while crafting a new country-western hangout steeped in Texas music traditions.
"When the BRB closed, there was no place for us all to get together and dance," Moores says. "We're excited to finally have a home again."