Burlesque Haunts : Dallas
Story: Femme Vivre LaRouge
For October’s edition of Burlesque Haunts, we wanted to share some local haunted theatres with you so that you might visit them in this the spookiest of seasons. Of Dallas’ many spirited sites, we’ve decided to feature The Majestic Theatre, Sons of Hermann Hall, and Lizard Lounge.
The Majestic Theatre, a Texas Historic Landmark and Vaudeville original, opened its doors for the first time in 1905, burned down in 1916, relocated, and then moved once again in 1921, to its current location at 1925 Elm. It boasts performances by the infamous Mae West and the magnificent Houdini. To keep up with the times, it eventually began to show movies as well, but always hosted live entertainers of the Cab Calloway caliber. Closed for nearly ten years, the theatre reopened in 1983, restored and renovated, to become the beautiful space which now houses a variety of presentations and performances. Several sites describe the theatre’s common ghostly occurrences of backdrops being moved by an invisible force, strange smells, and phone lines lighting up although they are not in use. Such phenomena have been attributed to the venue’s benefactor, Karl Hoblitzelle, if for no other reason than that he simply loved showbiz so much he did not wish to leave it behind.
For more information and a listing of upcoming shows, visit: www.liveatthemajestic.com
Another legendary local venue is the Sons of Hermann Hall, located at 3414 Elm and Exposition. Also a Texas Historic Landmark, the music hall was opened in 1911 by the Dallas chapter of The Sons of Hermann, “the nation’s oldest fraternal benefit society.” The order was named for a German tribesman and military leader who defied the Romans’ oppression of his people, successfully defeating three Roman legions in the year 9A.D. These battles are said to have been a decisive factor in Germany and the British Isles’ freedom from the Roman regime. The venue, voted Best Place to Take a Non-Texan by the Dallas Observer, has seen a great number of musicians over the years. Swing and blues dance lessons are a regular event, as well as The Smoke, Dallas’ longest running 60s mod dance party. Staff at the hall has witnessed a good deal of ghostly activity while carrying out their closing duties, but they’re not the only ones to experience phenomena. Phantom footsteps, a child’s laughter, doors opening and closing, and the sounds of someone bowling when the alley is empty are just a few examples. Paintings have also been known to spontaneously fall off the walls and the sounds of furniture being moved across the completely empty second floor are a common occurrence. Of the figureless voices that have been heard at the hall, only one has been identified; the original caretaker, Louie Bernardt, can still be heard yelling at kids to stop their horseplay, just as he did in life! Another interesting episode happened during the filming of a Walker, Texas Ranger episode, when some of the crew watched a couple dressed in the fashion of yesteryear walk through the hall and down a corridor, only to disappear. Furthermore, the Metroplex Paranormal Investigations team sponsored a ghost hunt at the Sons of Hermann in 2007 and ended up with almost fifty photographs of orbs that had not been visible to them during the tour.
Visit www.sonsofhermann.com to find out more about all there is to enjoy at Sons of Hermann Hall.
Perhaps the most famously haunted venue in Dallas is Lizard Lounge, known as The Church on Thursday and Sunday nights. This club/venue was originally called the Grand Crystal Palace Theatre and opened around the turn of the 20th century. Rumor has it that several workers were killed during the construction of the building and this may be where its haunted history began. Or, maybe it is the spirits of actors who took the stage in the club’s years as an ostentatious theatre. Serving up its current cocktail of primarily industrial and electronic culture since 1992, it is located in Dallas’ historic Deep Ellum, at 2424 Swiss Avenue. The venue also hosts a wide variety of events and acts, including local burlesque favorites, such as The Lollie Bombs. These days the main haunt is a man dressed all in black who is said to look a bit like Zorro sans the sword and dallies around in the audience area. There are more dramatic stories about the establishment’s days as a playhouse, in which one actress suffered a hair dryer being thrown at her head by an invisible hand, the light bulbs of her vanity simultaneously bursting for no discernable reason, and her iron melting into a puddle.
For a list of upcoming events see www.thelizardlounge.com
If you have any leads on burlesque haunts that we haven’t yet published, let us know! Happy haunting!