DOUBLE BAYOU DANCE HALL
DOUBLE BAYOU DANCE HALL. Double Bayou Dance Hall, located in the small black community of Double Bayou in Chambers County, sixty miles east of Houston, was established in the late 1920s. It was damaged by a storm in the early 1940s and reestablished at its present site in 1946 by returning World War II serviceman Manuel Rivers, Jr., and his wife Ella.
The hall served as a gathering place during the week and a dance hall on the weekends. Mr. and Mrs. Rivers operated the dance hall until Manuel's death in 1983, whereupon their nephew, blues guitarist Floyd "Texas Pete" Mayes, began managing the property. The dance hall was built atop cedar logs and constructed of wood with hogwire for walls; it had a tin roof. Tar paper–covered walls and a low-clearance ceiling were later added. It accommodated 125 people.
From 1946 to the mid-1950s, Double Bayou Dance Hall was home to a thriving live-music scene that operated on the outer edge of the "Chitlin' Circuit." Major touring acts traveling to Houston, including T-Bone Walker and Big Joe Turner, would on occasion make impromptu stops at Double Bayou on a Thursday night. More frequent appearances were made by Amos Milburn (with Texas Johnny Brown on guitar), Gatemouth Brown, Sam Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Percy Mayfield, Joe Hughes, Barbara Lynn, and Clifton Chenier.
Pete Mayes and the Texas Houserockers played their first professional gig at Double Bayou Dance Hall in 1954 and served thereafter as the house band into the early 1960s. Weekly offerings of live music began to fade at the dance hall in the 1960s, in part because Mayes began traveling extensively. Nevertheless, the hall remained open as a local gathering spot and watering hole. Pete Mayes and his band routinely performed a Christmas Day matinee from 1955 to 2005. Starting in 1991, they played for scheduled tour groups from Houston and on other major holidays. In May 2003 Mayes and his band recorded a live album at the old hall and eventually released the CD Pete Mayes and the Texas Houserockers LIVE! at Double Bayou Dance Hall. With the onset in 2006 of Pete Mayes's failing health and up to his death on December 17, 2008, activities at the dance hall dropped significantly. The building suffered heavy damage during Hurricane Ike in September 2008 and was not in use in 2011.
Houston Chronicle, June 11, 1995. Aaron Howard, "Pete Mayes' Double Bayou Dance Hall," Living Blues, July–August 1994. Roger Wood, Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003).