Broken Spoke, Austin, TX

Austin is growing like crazy. I constantly hear about new development going up. Often times it’s a bunch of condos that feel like corporate blandness is taking over.

Tucked inside these condos is Broken Spoke. It wasn’t always this way. At one time, this area wasn’t even in city limits. Broken Spoke is one of those country honkytonks that embody the spirit of Texas. While the country may have left the surrounding area as Austin grew, it is still alive and well inside Broken Spoke. It is actually one of the most famous honkytonks still in operation. Over the years, Broken Spoke has built tons of character. It is an Austin institution and a bellwether in changing times. It helped build the music scene that has made Austin famous. It hosted people such as Bob Wills, Johnny Cash, and a clean-cut Willie Nelson before he hit it big. The list of famous people that have walked through the doors of Broken Spoke is long. Being a Native Cheesehead, two-stepping wasn’t really a thing. The closest you’d get in Wisconsin is polka. I’ve been in Austin long enough that Victoria wanted me to learn how to two-step. What better of a place to do this than at the legendary Broken Spoke that happened to offer lessons? We had to circle the lot a bit to find a spot. We got there about an hour before the lessons started, but the parking lot was already packed.

The outside has a rustic look. It stands in its glory and defiance to the condos and other gentrification that has been plaguing the area.

We went inside and immediately walked over to sign up for the two-step lessons. The dance floor was empty for the time being (that was about to change fast).

We claimed our table in the dance hall and headed back out to the bar. We were hungry so we wanted to order some food.

I looked at the menu and it reminded me of another legendary bar, Rosa’s Cantina. The menu had both American and Mexican food.

We ordered and sat down. They had a table with a bunch of fixings on it. Sitting on that table was a mannequin that looked like Billy from Easy Rider.

While we were waiting for our food, I decided to walk around a bit and take some pictures. I ended up over at the “tourist trap” and saw many pictures of the famous people who visited Broken Spoke.

I came back and drank some of my Lone Star out of a red Solo cup.

My burger arrived soon. The meat was fresh and juicy and hit the spot! The french fries had a nice crisp to them.

While we were eating Victoria’s friend Briana and her fiance Bayard arrived. They ordered food and also signed up for the two-step lessons. My hand was already stamped, so I was able to go back to the dance hall quickly.

I was happy we arrived when we did. The lines soon got long.

Soon it was time for our lessons. The floor was packed and so were the rest of the tables.

The band kept things going.

After a while I started to get the hang of things. The only thing that threw me off was the dance floor being so packed that everyone kept running into each other. That would throw my timing off and I had to restart my count. Victoria and I danced a bit and then went back to the table with Briana and Bayard to have a drink to cool off. I found out we had come at a very special time. It was actually Broken Spoke’s 54th birthday. The legendary James White, the man who started it all, came up to the stage to do a little singing.

I drank a few beers and with that, I had to pee. This was another area you could tell this was an old school bar. I got a quick moment to snap a picture when the bathroom was empty, but there was just a trough there in the men’s bathroom. The last time I saw something like this I was in Juarez at Club Kentucky.

After a little more drinking and dancing, we decided to call it a night. I snapped a few pictures on my way out.

I can now say I’ve been to the legendary Broken Spoke. I’m happy I got to be there on its 54th birthday. The two-step lessons went well and maybe I’ll try going again when it’s a little less crowded. I know Victoria would like that!