Largest country and western gay bar set to open … in Houston

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 12.50.56 PMIt’s no secret that Texas gays like their cowboy bars — Dallas has the Round-Up, Austin had the Rainbow Cattle Company, and Houston? Well, Houston can soon lay claim to the biggest C&W-themed gay bar in the Lone Star State. Neon Boots Dancehall and Saloon is set to open a week from today at 11410 Hempstead Highway, the space that once was the Esquire Ballroom. The historic 1955 building on the outskirts of the city — which has played host to Patsy Cline, George Jones and Willie Nelson — has undergone a major renovation after laying fallow since the Esquire shut its doors in 1995. Neon Boots will be open Thursdays through Sundays, and plans include cowboy karaoke and line dancing lessons.

If you find yourself in Houston, you can check it out by visiting the club’s website.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Voice of Pride finalists selected

VOP13 - Finalist Group Photo

Last night at the Round-Up Saloon, the contestants who have been vying all summer to be crowned the 2013 Voice of Pride got whittled down to a final 10. These 10 will compete on Aug. 11 at the Rose Room in the final showdown of the year; the winner gets bragging rights and the chance to sing at the festival in Lee Park following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, plus $3,500 in cash and two round-trip airline tickets and a hotel stay at a luxury Hilton.

Congratulations to all the finalists, listed here in alphabetical below:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LifeWalk fundraisers set this weekend

LifeWalkLifeWalk isn’t until October, but you can get started early with helping raise money for the AIDS fundraiser. Here are some events this weekend:

AIDS Services of Dallas Car Wash. Get your ride clean and contribute to ASD at the same time. IN the Round-Up parking lot off Throckmorton, Saturday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Green Team Pool Party. A private home hosts a day-long dip and sip for one of the teams. 1010 Gregory St., Garland, Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

10th Annual Miss LifeWalk Pageant. Come root for your favorite ladyboy as she walks the runway for charity. The Rose Room inside Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road, Sunday, doors open at 6:30 p.m. $7 donation requested at the door; $17 reserved seating.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tom Sweeney, original owner of the Round-Up Saloon, dies


Tom Sweeney, counting money thrown into the Texas flag during the Pride parade in 1993.


The remains of The Round-Up Saloon after the 1989 fire

Tom Sweeney, original owner of the Round-Up Saloon, died this week. The bar opened July 11, 1980. Current owners Alan Pierce and Gary Miller bought it from Sweeney in 1998.

Sweeney began the bar’s tradition in 1987 of carrying the giant Texas flag in the Pride parade used to collect money that was donated to AIDS organizations.

In 1989, a fire at the Dallas Gay Alliance office, which was next door to the Round-Up, destroyed the DGA office, the Round-Up and TapeLenders. The bar reopened in its current location in the summer of 1990.

Sweeney moved the club to Maple Avenue for a year to a building that was most recently The Brick before being razed a year ago. He rebuilt the club on Cedar Springs Road in its original location.

After selling the club, Sweeney moved to Norman, Okla., to be near his sister, Patsy. The funeral is today.

Watch a video below about the 30-year history of the Round-Up Saloon:

—  David Taffet

Scenes from the Miss Gay USofA Classic Pageant at the Round-Up


The Round-Up Saloon played host to Night Two of the annual Miss Gay USofA Classic Pageant on Monday. Similar to the Miss Gay USofA Pageant in every way save for an age requirement, Classic boasted 29 contestants, all ages 40 or above as per the rules. Contestants hailed from all over the country, the closest being Dallas’ very own Edna Jean Robinson and UnShante DeFoxx, and the farthest being Marina Del Rey, who traveled from Hawaii. Amy DeMilo won the title with Roxie Hart and Victoria Lace finishing as first and second runners-up, respectively.

Night One of the pageant set the stage for the elimination of all but the top 12 competitors. Remaining contestants competed in two categories: Evening Gown and Talent. In many instances multiple talent presentations were as flashy, intricate and creative as the gowns worn. With five minutes allotted to each contestant to set up the stage, many took advantage, and — with the help of each contestant’s own personal team — assembled elaborate sets adorned with props, hidden places for costume changes, and specially made backdrops. One in particular was Billie Jean, the winner of Miss Gay New England USofA Classic. With three costume changes during the allotted seven minutes of performance time, Jean began with a costume bearing a striking resemblance to Wonder Woman, then transformed to impersonate Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics, and ended as a priest(ess), complete with collar and rosary. Another over-the-top performance was given by first runner-up Roxie Hart. With the help of two professional ballet dancers, Hart put on her own rendition of Black Swan, with herself in the title role, and received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her talent presentation.

—  Patrick Hoffman

Round-Up apologizes for glitch causing month of bar tabs to be processed

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.22.26 PM

The Round-Up Saloon posted the above on Facebook this afternoon, unleashing a torrent of angry comments including some from customers who say their debit accounts are now overdrawn — and one who says he may have to sell his belongings to pay his bills (no, we’re not kidding).

We also received an email from a Round-Up customer who reminded us that “high dollar amounts over the past month were likely easily accumulated with St. Patrick’s Day weekend and Bear Weekend.”

“I have no doubt that several people were waking up to overdraft charges today; which undoubtedly the Round Up will not reimburse. I’ve heard stories of people who were charged $6-700 today,” the customer wrote. “I am incredibly disappointed in the Round Up — which if I remember correctly, is supposed to be one of the friendliest bars in Dallas. I will likely not frequent there any time soon.”

Alan Pierce, co-owner of the Round-Up, told Instant Tea the problem apparently started due to a glitch with a single transaction last month. However, he said the Round-Up didn’t become aware of the problem until earlier this month. Pierce said he’s had dozens of phone calls from customers already today — prompting him to post the item on Facebook and place signs at all of the cash registers.

“Obviously this has never happened before, and this is not something we ever expected to happen,” Pierce said. “We had no idea this was going on.”

Pierce said he thinks both the bank and the credit card processing company should have caught the problem sooner. However, they’ve told him they’re not legally liable. He doesn’t believe the Round-Up is liable, either, but he said the bar is the one that will ultimately suffer.

“We’ll be the ones left holding the bag here,” he said. “We feel badly that it’s affecting customers this way.”

Pierce said he didn’t want to make any promises, but said people with questions should contact the office.

“We’ll deal with them individually on that,” he said.

“Sadly, it’s a glitch of technology,” he added. “We’ll be monitoring it much more closely.”

—  John Wright

Round-Up Saloon patron accuses club of anti-Hispanic discrimination

A Round-Up Saloon patron says he fears the bar is discriminating against Hispanic clubgoers who have permanent resident visas, but management says it accepts them.

Eddie Munoz said he and a friend visiting from out of town went to the Round-Up on Tuesday night after the Lady Gaga concert. Gaga was expected to appear at the club after her Dallas performance.

But when Munoz’s friend presented his permanent resident visa — commonly called a “green card” — the doorman told him that management had changed the policy to no longer accept them as valid IDs. When Munoz and his friend asked to speak to a manager, Munoz said they were rudely told to wait outside.

“It was a perfectly legitimate ID. We never had issues before,” Munoz said. “I was infuriated.”

While waiting, Munoz said he saw a group of women who looked Hispanic being turned away with their IDs in their hands.

Munoz ended up texting a friend already inside the club to seek out a manager to address the issue. His friend spoke to a manager who then approved the ID and let them in.

But Munoz said his friend, who is from Mexico but lives in South Texas, had been admitted to the club last Saturday and Sunday using the same ID, so he wanted to know why the policy had suddenly changed, but he said they were never given an answer Tuesday night.

—  Dallasvoice

PHOTOS: Lady Gaga at the American Airlines Center — but not the Round-Up

As most Little Monsters probably know, Lady Gaga is not allowing media photo coverage of her Born This Way Ball, which stopped at the American Airlines Center in Dallas last night. But our Chuck Marcelo went as a spectator and managed to grab some pretty decent shots anyway. Unfortunately, for the first time in three tours, Gaga didn’t show up at the Round-Up Saloon afterward, leading to some hurt feelings since the bar had announced earlier in the day that she would be there. The Round-Up has since pulled its original post advertising Gaga’s appearance. As of this morning, the bar hadn’t posted an official apology, but this thread on its Facebook page seemed indicative of the back and forth:


Check out the rest of Chuck’s pics below. To read Rich Lopez’s review, go here.

—  C Marcelo

Round-Up Gaga watch begins

—  John Wright

Thanksgiving meals served Wed. at Resource Center, Thurs. at Round-Up

Local AIDS service providers are offering Thanksgiving meals before the holiday, and the Texas Gay Rodeo Association and the Round-Up Saloon are making sure everyone gets a holiday meal on the holiday.

AIDS Interfaith Network‘s Daire Center provided a big holiday meal last weekend and another today.

For Resource Center Dallas, Wednesday is the day of the holiday meal. RCD has a daily lunch program on weekdays but the Thanksgiving lunch will be elaborate and open to the public.

“It’s longer than normal because demand is increasing every year,” RCD Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell said.

McDonnell said they will not be checking client IDs and everyone is welcome. Lunch will be served in the Rainbow Room where the program normally takes place — with coffee and desert in the Color Rooms.

“We have 12 turkeys, our own cornbread dressing and other traditional sides,” he said.

TGRA is serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Round-Up Saloon on Thursday. That dinner is open to the public.

“We wanted to do something special for the community,” said TGRA President Butch Compton.

He said he contacted AIN and RCD to tell them to send their clients. About 400 people are expected at the Round-Up.

Compton said everything’s donated. On Wednesday, volunteers are picking up pieces of the meal to prepare and cook at home. He said he has 30 turkeys, nine hams, 25 pies, 100 cupcakes and lots more. Donations of food are not needed but cash donations to help defray the costs are welcome.

“We reached out to friends and family,” Compton said.

Any money that doesn’t go toward the meal, he said, would go to RCD, AIN or Legacy Counseling Center.

Volunteers are still needed. To volunteer, send an email to Compton.

—  David Taffet