October 2015 Texas Dance Hall 

Preservation Newsletter 



 LaBahia Dance Hall

A Brief History of the La Bahia Turn Verein

  by Charles R. Schultz
November, 1990
Forty-eight German settlers living in the vicinity of Burton, Washington County, Texas organized the La Bahia Turn Verein on July 5, 1879.  
The organization existed without a charter and without facilities until 1884.  In June 24, 1884, the La Bahia Turn Verein purchased three acres of land from August and Amoelia Seibel for $90.  This land fronts on present day Texas Highway 237.  Immediately thereafter G.F. Christek constructed the first hall on that land. This building was destroyed by fire on November 3, 1887.  A second hall was built that same year. It burned October 12, 1901.  The present hall was constructed in 1902 and has been increased in size and modified on several occasions as the number of members and people attending functions increased.      
Illumination was originally provided by opening sections of the exterior wall during the day and by gas or kerosene lanterns at night.  During the early 1930s, the Verein acquired a Delco battery light system.  After the development of rural electrical cooperatives in the 1940s made electricity readily and economically available, the hall was connected to that service.
Ventilation and cooling was possible through the opened sections of the exterior wall and three large louvers at the front of the building.  Once economical electricity became available fans were installed.  Several small fans and one large one provide a modest circulation of air in the hall today, but most of it comes from the open doors and open sections in the walls.
All of these features were and still are representative of the many such halls which once dotted the landscape of this area of Central Texas and of the few that are still standing.  
The original innocent sport practiced by members of The La Bahia Turn Verein was tureining, an activity comparable to American chinning the bar.  Individuals were required to master this sport and be able to chin the bar a certain number of times before they were accepted into membership.  The organization then became more of a social center where members and their families could find amusement and recreation and where they could meet for dances and other social gatherings.
From the original forty-eight members in 1879, the La Bahia Turn Verein grew to around 180 members or families in 1979.  
Dances are held only occasionally.  Instead of dances, the hall has been and is used for family reunions, wedding receptions, and wedding anniversaries.  Several Texas State Skat Tournaments have been held at the hall.  In addition, the Buttons and Bows Square Dance Club of Navasota hosts a very popular two day square dance and fish fry every April.  This dance is so popular that motor homes and travel trailers begin arriving on Thursday for a Friday night dance.
Major anniversaries have always been celebrated with huge barbeque dinners, large dances.
Today the La Bahia Turn Verein remains an active and viable family oriented organization whose purpose continues to be the promotion of the social life of member families.  The hall is maintained in good condition and is used frequently in the spring and summer.
Texas Dance Hall Preservation
Board of Directors
Deb Fleming, President
 M.  Kelley Russell, Secretary
Brendon Anthony
Patrick Cox, Director
Elaine Hanks, Director
Cynthia Inman, Director
Steph McDougal, Director
Marsha Milam, Director
Joseph Stallone, Director
Nate Wensowitch, Director

Go to the Calendar of the Texas Dance Hall Preservation website  to find out more about Texas dance halls, their history, their location and the music.

Many Texas dance halls can be rented for special events such as weddings, meetings, family reunions, etc.  Add some Texas tradition to your event by inquiring into the availability of your favorite Texas dance hall.
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                                   Brendon Anthony
Brendon Anthony is the director of the Texas Music Office. Anthony began playing live music with a variety of Texas acts while attending Texas A&M University, which he graduated from in 1999. In 1997, Anthony began playing full time with Pat Green, with whom he toured nationally and internationally for 15 years. During his decade and a half as a touring musician, Anthony toured both the United States and Europe, played on a gold record and was a member of the band when Pat Green received three Grammy Award nominations. In addition to being a successful touring musician, Anthony has also performed on dozens of studio recordings and produced multiple records, including Drew Womack's "Sunshine To Rain." In 2010, Anthony helped start OneLive Media, which began as a primary ticketing company for Texas music venues and festivals before expanding into the e-commerce industry and becoming one of the premier online entertainment sales and marketing companies in the country. Anthony is a classically-trained violinist who has played fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo both in live performances and studio recordings.
Anthony was born in Dallas, raised in College Station and has now called Austin home for 16 years.

Marsha Milam
Marsha Milam describes herself as a "from-the-ground-up" person. Prior to establishing Milam & Co. in 2000, she co-founded and ran the Austin Film Festival. From 1994-2000, she spearheaded AFF from an out-of-the-pocket dream to one of the premiere film festivals in the United States. 
In addition to the Austin Film Festival, Ms. Milam created, and for 12 years organized, the annual Chuy's Children Giving to Children holiday parade in Austin, which collects over 30,000 toys each holiday season.
In both of the preceding instances, Ms. Milam was in charge of fundraising efforts. In the case of the Austin Film Festival, the operating budget during Ms. Milam's tenure reached well over $1 million annually.
In 1988, she helped to organize a sold-out, SRO, critically-acclaimed two-night concert benefiting the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which starred the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bonnie Raitt, Ruth Brown and others.
In addition to her professional duties, Ms. Milam currently sits on the boards of the Austin Film Festival, the Cultural District Alliance in Fort Worth and the Arthouse (formerly the Texas Fine Arts Association), the oldest arts organization in the state. She is also on the advisory board for Black Fret, a public charity that supports local Austin music and its community.

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