Alone on stage with just a guitar and harmonica, Bret can easily take charge of even the rowdiest of crowds. In his element at Gruene Hall, Bret attracts a large audience whenever he plays.
“One little known fact is that by 1850, and for many years afterward, European, most German, immigrants in San Antonio outnumbered both Mexicans and Anglos.” Texas Historian T. R. Ferenbach
Well, little known to whom? Not to those of us whose families date back to before Texas was a U.S. state. Want to know what is truly a “little known” fact? Texas Two-Step (in all it’s varieties), danced now for close to 200 years in Texas, and swing dancing, picked up by both black and white communities and danced throughout the South in its early years and now throughout the world, was derived from Czech and German dances. Texas dance hall culture is a German and Czech product, as is the large portions of our state that are family oriented. All of the famous dancehalls in Texas and those that have passed into the night with the arrival of more Anglos and other cultures, were Czech and German products.
Gruene Hall dates back to 1878. It was, like all halls of this type, a community center. Texas has retained it’s culture of serving liquor or beer with children present. Unlike other states that took on a strictly Anglo Protestant culture, barring children from houses of liquor and dance, Texas inherited a Czech and German view. Adults and children play together, so to speak. We’re family.
As anti-German sentiment increased with World War II, many Germans left or changed their names, stopped speaking German in schools or in public and German was banned from being taught in many municipalities in Texas. This had a detrimental effect on our communities, with many halls closing, one by one over the years and changing the face of our communities.
The German owners and strict German community are no more in Gruene. Purchased by Anglos, Gruene Hall is now a mausoleum, a museum and living breathing entity all rolled into one. It is a Texas treasure. It deserves preservation and use. Great Texas country and roots music is played at Gruene Hall. Support Texas music and history. Support Gruene Hall.
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