Dance Hall in Schulenburg, Texas
Texas has a lot of old dance halls. Some still actually have dancing!
I've been itching to dance at Sengelmann's for about 15 years. The old hall hosts many Czech polka events. I love a good polka!
Lunch at Momma's
In January of 2020, Don and I were passing through Schulenburg. Even though I couldn't have the polka experience, we could at least stop for lunch at their restaurant, Momma's.
We pulled up just in time to see Christmas decorations being hauled outside.
That reminded me of the first time we discovered Sengelmann's. It was almost exactly 6 years before. I remember pulling up to the old building and seeing a little Christmas greenery hanging on the balcony railing.
Before stopping at Sengelmann's in 2014, we searched the town (of only about 4,000) to find the haunted Von Minden Hotel, that we'd read about.
I remember being a tiny bit spooked by my visit to Von Minden. We pulled up and the building looked closed. I told Don to wait in the car while I took a quick peek. There was no one in the lobby, but I wandered in. I hollered, "Hello?" and snapped a few photos.
Eventually I met this young man who told me the hotel had become more of a boarding house. He then began to tell me some very scary stories about his encounters with ghosts.
Stopping By Sengelmann's
After the haunted hotel visit, we headed over to the Dance Hall, where we met the nice family who had taken over the ownership. As I recall, they had purchased the hotel as well and had plans for future renovation.
It wasn't exactly meal time for us, but we were invited to look around. The mahogany bar was impressive.
Lunch in 2020
I took another look at the carved bar, when we returned in 2020.
The stools were empty at 11:30 am and there seemed to be no one working the bar. Luckily, we were not in dire need of a whiskey.
Momma's Restaurant had just opened for lunch and we were in no hurry. We peeked at some of the old photos.
The worn wooden floors and chairs looked like they could have been original, from 1894. There were sturdy looking iron columns holding up the high ceiling. I wonder if they were always painted.
It looked a biergarten had popped up, since our last visit.
On a nice summer evening, this might be sort of festive, but it looked chilly in January.
Signs and Stuff
There was only one other party seated, so it seemed like a good time to absorb all the curious signs and memorabilia.
There was only one wait person on duty and she looked busy, so I didn't get nosy with questions. I had a lot of questions.
Machines and Buffet
I didn't need cigarettes or candy, but it might have been fun to have used some coins and given one of those machines a try. I spotted a Tootsie Roll Pop that could have been dessert.
A lunch buffet was being set up, but I wasn't in the mood for that. Little did I know that in less than 2 months, the idea of a buffet lunch would have been unthinkable. We had no idea that soon restaurants would be shutting their doors, due to Coronavirus. Over a year later, the idea of a buffet still sounds creepy.
Don and I had about 100 chairs to chose from. We chose a table not far from the painted wall.
Farmer's State Bank...
While waiting on food, we studied the colorful wall, with painted scenery and advertisements. I'm guessing the mountain landscape was a scene from Germany. The Sengelmann Brothers who built the Dance Hall, were from Hamburg.
Don ordered the Pork Schnitzel for about $10. It looks odd in my photo, but it was tasty. The meat was pounded thin and dredged in seasoned crumbs, then fried. The lemon butter and mashed potatoes made it a yummy and high calorie treat.
I figured I'd go with a German special appetizer. The Bierocks (only $6.99) was ground sausage, ground beef, grilled onions, mozzarella and sauerkraut, inside of a German pastry. Cut like a pie and served with spicy mustard! No way could I finish, but it was a flavorful and hardy feast!
The place was huge, especially for a small town. More tables began to fill , as we we finished our meal.
Now when I look at all these long community tables, I sort of cringe. Years ago, I hated the idea of sharing a table with strangers. Then Don and I learned that it was fun to dine with people we don't know. We love learning from locals. After a year of pandemic isolating, I'm not sure when I'll be ready to sit at crowded tables again!
I had one more question, that I never got an answer for. What about all the instruments I saw, sitting around? They could have been part of the Christmas decor that had been dismantled.
There was a fair amount of dust on that old piano. I don't think it's been played in a while. Is/Was the dancing and music always just upstairs?
Machine Mystery Lady
After lunch, we noticed the wobbly set of stairs over by another candy machine. We asked our server if it was okay to head up to see the Dance Hall. She told us to feel free to use the new elevator. We must have looked old. Or maybe the stairs are dangerous.
As I peeked up the stairs, Don told me to stop. He'd seen a vision in the candy machine mirror. Then he grabbed my camera and took a photo. It was me of course. Very funny, Don!
This is how the dance hall looked, when we wandered up to have a peek in 2014. I liked the colorful arched windows.
There were tables and chairs scattered everywhere. Things looked a little different when we reached the second floor this time.
A few people were busy decorating for a wedding celebration.
The Band Stage?
Heavy drapes hung over the rear windows, with sparkly letters covering them. I get the feeling this has been the look for a very long time.
I assumed the stage where the band played. Would there be a polka band that night? Some accordions maybe? Hopefully some expert polka dancers flying around the dance floor. Maybe not, but I love to picture it.
Before Air Conditioning
Polka dancing is exhausting. Back in the day, I'll bet these windows would have been opened wide, on hot summer nights.
Peering through that old glass, I was reminded of just how old this building is. We headed downstairs and I thought about how lucky it is that this place is still operating. We got in the car and I started looking online for dates showing us when the next polka band would be performing at Sengelmann's.
We drove away, planning a return for dancing! And then that darn Pandemic rerouted us for the next year!
It's April 2021. I've been searching the internet for polka news in Texas... not that I'm quite ready to hit the crowded dance floor with strangers yet. I didn't find much polka news, but I saw that the Von Minden Hotel has been gutted and is being renovated! Yay! We'll have a place to stay, when we're ready for a night of Polk-ing!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.