Sat 05 Moonglow Orchestra (Big Band) $15.
Sat 12 River Road Boys (Western Swing) $10.
Sat 19 No Dance
Fri 25 Grateful Geezers (50's, 60's, soul &
Sat 26 No Dance.
Friday and Saturday
Dances are held 8 pm - 11:30 pm (Sunday times vary)
Dress Code required for all Big Band and
On Country Western and Polka nights, wear whatever you wish.
SPJST 88 Website
1435 Beall Street ·
Houston, TX 77008
713-869-5767 (9-3 pm
email to: email@example.com
Story Written by Rick Archer in
Last Update May 2012
The Chandelier Ballroom is a enormous yet
nondescript building hidden well off the beaten path.
It is located on a
tree-lined street named 'Beall' in the Heights.
let the modest exterior fool you. Inside, the
to possess the largest wood dance floor in Houston that I
know of. Better yet, once you finally figure out
where the place is located, the Chandelier is not only easy to
reach, it has plenty of accessible parking space as well.
dancers have been beating a path to the Chandelier for
years on a random basis. Starting last August, our
Ballroom group began visiting the Chandelier once a month.
varied from 20 people to 70 people. On two visits -
September and November - we were the largest group in the
also known as SPJST Lodge 88, is a
Czech Fraternal Lodge. The place
is run by some extremely nice people who are
stands for Slovanska
Podporujici Jednota Statu Texas,
the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas.
I dare anyone to say it fast.
Back in the 1800s in a period that stretched from 1834 -
1900, about 200,000 people from Czechoslovakia in Eastern
Europe emigrated to the United States. A good many of
these people settled into an untamed Wild West territory named
Texas about the time of the Texas Independence (1836) and
eventual entrance into the United States (1845).
emigrants banded together for safety as well as to maintain their
heritage. This need to stay in touch with their
cultural roots provided the impetus to create a "Lodge" to
meet at. By 1897, there were 27 lodges spread out across Texas.
After all these years of visiting
the Chandelier, I will confess the place still holds
several mysteries for me.
biggest mystery is that they only have a schedule of
activities that includes two a nights a week. From
what I gather, they have at most two or three events
a week. There is
Thursday Night Bingo, an
occasional Friday Night dance plus regular dances
every Saturday Night.
I wonder what
goes on at the Chandelier during the day. And
what goes on at the Chandelier during the evenings on
Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and
Saturdays? Do they hold secret Czech meetings?
Another mystery is that I can't
figure out how the owners can afford the property
taxes on this place. It is a giant, well-maintained facility
occupying several acres of
prime real estate in the Heights. There is a quiet city park in
back, so the building has trees on three sides and
no immediate neighbors. What a choice
location! The taxes must cost
them a fortune and yet the parking lot is
usually deserted whenever I drive by the building.
the place doesn't seem to be very busy, I cannot for
the life of me figure out their finances. On
the other hand, as they say, "it is none of my
business". All I know is that the people
who run the place keep a very low profile and run a
quick look at the schedule reveals that the Friday
Night Polka Band Dances have apparently been discontinued.
In addition, it seems like there are fewer Ballroom Dances on Saturday night
than I remember. The Czech Polka Dances appear to have migrated from
Fridays over to share the Saturdays with Ballroom
Dancing and occasional Western dances.
answer to the mysteries, Chandelier is a fun place to visit.
The building and its grounds are well-lit.
There is plenty of parking and the area feels extremely safe.
there is a sense of the "hidden" to the Chandelier Ballroom.
Recessed on a back street in a residential
area well off Shepherd, I doubt any criminal
can even find the place.
our own students can't find it and they have
dance floor is spacious, the room is well-lit and the tables
allow large groups to mingle and chat easily. As
I said earlier, the Ballroom Dance floor is enormous.
I don't think the floor is quite the size of a football
field, but it sure feels like it. The floor seems
well-maintained. I have never had trouble dancing on
this attractive wood floor.
Thanks to the
spacious room, there are plenty of tables to sit at.
They say each table sits 12 people, but I suspect there is
room for more. The only time seating ever becomes a
problem for our group is when the Band sits down.
Unfortunately they don't play any DJ music during the Break,
so the massive floor empties rapidly the moment people
realize the Band is sitting down. Chairs are now a
are one of my favorite times of the evening. I always
get a kick out of watching these well-dressed, "mannerly" adults make a mad 'musical
chairs'-style scramble for the few remaining chairs.
Despite their suits and lovely
dresses, for a brief moment these models of decorum lose all
semblance of proper behavior as they scratch and claw their
way to grab the last remaining chair. Then the
moment they are seated, they put their polite smiley face back on
and pretend nothing just happened.
A nice feature
about these tables is that they act as 'beehives'.
The tables permit large groups of
people to socialize during Breaks and whenever someone
chooses to sit out a song. There are always people buzzing
around in the general area of their table. We take
turns sharing the seats. A table of
twelve can more or less accommodate a group of 20 because
many people are usually standing around to chat.
People don't usually need (or want) to sit all night long.
They just want an area to call their own for the evening.
tables have practical purposes as well. They act as
places to store purses, shoe bags and food items.
Stick them under the table or lay them on top. The large
tables allow people to bring food, beverage and wine bottles
galore to each event. The Chandelier has a concession
stand which sells soft drinks and bottled water. I was
informed recently that they sell beer as well.
Chandelier people don't seem to mind letting people
bring in whatever they wish (except maybe water,
soft drinks and beer since they sell it). Although the food is usually the typical
chips and dips munchies, I have seen veritable feasts at
some tables. Any guest is welcome to bring food.
I also see wine bottles aplenty.
appears to be the preferred beverage. Wine is
a major component of an evening at the Chandelier.
One man confided he has the exact amount measured
out. Two glasses gives him enough confidence
to get out there in front of all those people, but
three glasses makes him forget everything he knows.
Some people bring some very expensive bottles.
I hate them. One night I confiscated an empty
"expensive" bottle. Ever since, each night I
simply put my own cheap wine in that bottle and take
it with me. Works like a charm; I get lots of
compliments on my excellent taste in wine.
People think I am a high roller except for the lady
who keeps asking why I always bring a bottle already
uncorked. Mind your own business.
of the tables is to make it easy to identify who is in your
group. Of course the fear among singles is there will be no one to dance with.
Thanks to the tables, it is fairly easy to identify the
newcomers and make them feel welcome. The
nice thing about going to the Chandelier as a group is that
everyone takes turns asking each other to dance. And
when you do have to sit out a song, there is usually someone
to chat with. The single women like joining our group
because they know they will be safe from strangers and have
friends to socialize with. Hopefully all the gentlemen
will make a point to ask several women to dance throughout
back when I started, I thought it was great to dance with several different
women. I remember the first time I went Ballroom
Dancing with my Ballroom class. I could only remember
four Foxtrot patterns. If I had danced those same
patterns with the same woman all night, I would have been
ashamed of myself. However I was able to spread my
boring repertoire over six or seven women, so I didn't feel
too guilty. Little did I know the other guys could
only remember four patterns as well. Those poor women.
Orchestra and the Jack Melick Orchestra currently take turns
playing at the Chandelier. I have heard that the Moonglow Orchestra plays a preponderance of Foxtrot and
Swing music. With that in mind, be sure to dance to a
Rumba, Chacha, Waltz, and Tango song whenever you hear one.
Usually they play at least two of each during the evening,
but if you came in late and hear a Rumba, this could be your
one big chance.
good is the dancing?
to be expected that there are many good Ballroom
dancers at the Chandelier. However, without
meaning to step on toes, there are quite a few
"average" dancers there as well. There
are a lot of people there who are perfectly happy
just dancing for the fun of it.
assume that all Ballroom dancers must be pros.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Just
like a night of Western dancing at a club, there are
some exceptional dancers, but the vast majority are
average dancers who are there strictly to socialize,
not to show off.
opinion, the really serious Ballroom dancers stick
to events hosted by their own dance studio.
Since the Chandelier Ballroom is neutral territory,
the dance elite seem to go elsewhere on Saturday
exception are the 4 or 5 extremely talented male
Ballroom instructors who treat the Chandelier as
their personal fishing hole for new students.
They go from table to table asking unescorted ladies
to dance. Sure enough, at the end of dance,
out comes their business card.
Houston, Ballroom Dancing has been forced to take a distant
back seat to Country-Western and Salsa Dancing for as long
as I can remember. Even the
impressive popularity and staying power of "Dancing with
the Stars" doesn't seem to have budged the pecking order here in Houston
one bit. People enjoy watching the
theatrics of the professional dancers and their celebrity
partners, but have a hard time visualizing themselves doing
the same thing. Ballroom Dancing is for "other
fail to realize that there is a vast difference between the
gifted dancers appearing on national TV and "social Ballroom
dancing". Yes, Ballroom Dancing can be very glamorous.
However Social Ballroom dancing is far less complicated.
When you go to the Chandelier, yes, there will be a couple
Ballroom instructors who will shine, but the vast majority
of dancers will be using their Box Steps, Twinkles, and Back
Steps all night long.
If you are a
Beginner, you will certainly feel overwhelmed. The
hardest part is forcing yourself to show up in the first
place. But don't let that stop you. You don't
have to be an excellent dancer to participate.
Everyone in our group understands full well that everyone
has to start somewhere. So rather than turn their
noses at Beginners, most people in our group are more than
happy to "encourage" rather than "discourage". Once
you get out on the floor, you begin to improve
The main point
of Social Ballroom is not necessarily to be a perfectionist
or an exhibitionist, but rather to have fun dancing with
friends to romantic music in a comfortable, relaxed setting.
I have noticed that the people at the Chandelier are by and
large good Ballroom dancers, but certainly not intimidating.
There are usually 200-300 people out there. If you are
beginner, just dance in the middle and don't worry about it.
Dance and Romance at Sea
As many people
in the SSQQ Ballroom Club are well aware, Ballroom Dancing
is especially popular on cruise trips.
Ballroom Dancing can be glamorous and romantic...
exactly the ambience a cruise ship aspires to.
All the way back to the days of the Titanic,
Ballroom Dancing and Cruise trips have gone hand in
hand. We may be 80 years past the height of
Big Band Era, long considered the Golden Age of
Ballroom. Nevertheless, aboard a cruise ship,
those days are still alive. People are
consistently surprised at the emphasis on Ballroom
Dancing aboard their ship.
turns out that Cruise trips feature many
opportunities for people to dance. We are
fortunate for this indeed. One of the real treats in
life is dancing in a luxurious setting to romantic
music complete with band and vocalist.
Dance and Romance go hand in hand at sea in a
powerful way. Nothing quite compares to the pleasure
of dancing in each other's arms to a love song. For
some reason, most of us don't take the time to seek
out special moments like these back on land.
goodness we have the magic of the sea to give us
these enchanted evenings.
Now it is true
that any cruise ship leaving out of Galveston will have many
passengers who prefer Western dancing. And it is true
that any cruise ship leaving Miami will have many passengers
who prefer Salsa. \
But when you
look at the big picture around the world, Ballroom Dancing
is the most popular form of dancing internationally.
This explains why every cruise ship has a Ballroom singer
heads a group of two or three musicians. These
Ballroom combos are very popular with our SSQQ dancers.
Here is a
picture our dance group Ballroom Dancing at sea. This
picture is exactly the same thing you will see at the
Chandelier - couples and singles all mixed together like one
big happy family.
The point of
going to the Chandelier is to have this same kind of
experience on a monthly basis, not just once a year on a
is the Path to Romance
To me, the
greatest obstacle to expanding our Chandelier Ballroom Club
is the willingness of the men to be patient enough to see a
Ballroom project through to fruition.
Men have some pretty serious hurdles to cross to become good
Ballroom dancers. I estimate they need to put in at
least six months of classes just to cover the Intermediate
level of each dance. Then they need to make it a point to
As a teacher,
I can have my men brave enough to go dancing Western or Salsa
at a club within
three or four lessons. When a man takes a Salsa class,
he only has to learn Salsa. When he takes
a Western class, he only has to learn two dances (Twostep
and Polka). However, at the Chandelier, he will face a vast array of 7 different
dances, eight if they play a Samba. Consequently men who are
Beginners are forced to sit out many of the songs.
That can be pretty
daunting for a man. Unlike a woman who can fake her
way through many of these dances with a good lead, the guys have no
choice but to start at the bottom and learn everything one step at a time. The
realize that learning to dance Ballroom is going to be quite a
Let me just
say this to the guys. Hang in there. There is
paradise waiting for you at the end of tunnel. Better
yet, you don't even have to go to Heaven to collect your
ladies are already sold on Ballroom Dancing.
They like wearing pretty dresses. They like
being held in your arms. They like the elegant dancing,
they like the vibrant live music of the
Orchestra, and they like seeing everyone all
dressed up. Unlike faster forms of
dancing like Salsa, the ladies like the
smooth feel of Ballroom Dancing because they
don't worry about their hair or their
dresses. They also like the
challenge of following the tricky patterns.
If a man thinks leading is difficult, trust
me, following is a real skill. Women
enjoy doing their best to read a man's leads
and making him look good.
Ballroom Dancing is all about good teamwork.
Ballroom Dancing is a unique hobby
because it can and should be enjoyed
throughout the duration of one's life.
A person's Ballroom days will typically last
way beyond his or her days of tennis. Yes, there's
always bingo, bridge, and bowling, but I doubt any
of these pastimes offer anywhere near the
glamour of a night of dancing. Bingo
is fun, but isn't exactly romantic.
Nothing beats the chance to challenge the
mind, exercise the body, and make friends in
the process quite like Dancing. I
simply cannot think of another activity that
offers a more elegant way to socialize with
a loved one and with many friends all at the
guys think dancing is just a convenient way to meet
women and seal the deal. A lot of men have the
attitude that once they get married, they can put
their feet up and stop working at Romance. I
am speaking of the insidious "Marriage is Death of
Dance" syndrome. It is a common occurrence
that two people who dance all the way to the Altar
seem to toss their Dance Hobby to the side once the
ring is on.
Dance and Romance should be an on-going project
throughout the year. Yes,
going out to dinner alone once a week is a good way
to keep the smiles coming, but to really touch a
woman's heart, nothing keeps the Romance alive
throughout the mundane pressures of daily living
like a serious evening of dancing together.
And don't think for a moment a once-a-year cruise
will do the trick.
If a guy can take his
lady dancing to a place like the Chandelier where
she can see her friends too, that makes things all
the better. Now the lady has her man, her
pretty dress, her friends, and dancing all wrapped
into one big evening. When the
ladies leave the Chandelier at night, I watch their
faces as they walk out. More
often than not I see a big smile on their faces. A
night of Ballroom Dancing is perfect for a woman's spirits.
is why I say that any man who takes the time to
learn to dance Ballroom will be set for life.
His wife or girlfriend will love him for taking the
time to do something special with her. Dancing
is a form of teamwork. Good Ballroom
dancing requires communication, cooperation, and
thoughtfulness. When a couple clicks on the
floor, it means they are working together. No
wonder a good night of dancing
makes the ladies feel closer to their men.
They are indeed partners.
understand men learn to dance mostly to please women.
Long ago I realized that women like to dance so much that
even a social klutz like me could get some very pretty women
to pay attention to me if I could just figure out what I was
doing. I was so certain of this that I refused to give up
even though dancing never came easily to me.
I had all kinds of mishaps learning to dance Ballroom.
But I would not quit. I always knew the
investment would be rewarded many times over. Now 30
years later I can report I was right all along.
Women love to
dance. Men enjoy making women happy. And for any
guy with an enlightened sense of self-interest, that should
be all I need to say. Make Ballroom Dancing a hobby
and the smiles are sure to follow.
years, I have said the same thing about Western Dancing,
Swing Dancing, and Salsa. So why not just stick to
those three? Why add Ballroom Dancing to the list?
Because when you reach a certain age, Ballroom music and
dancing have an air of elegance and sophistication that is
appealing. When you reach the point that dancing fast
doesn't have quite the same appeal as dancing gracefully,
you realize it is time to add Ballroom to the list.
Dancing keeps the mind sharp, the body fit, and the romantic
heart beating as well. Dancing gracefully helps us age
gracefully as well. Even better, dancing within a
group of friends keeps the laughter coming as well.
The sense of community is important. Therefore
when I speak of Dancing the night away, the Chandelier
Ballroom is one of the first places in Houston that comes to