The Stampede is a dance hall located on the Snyder Highway (Texas State Highway 350) approximately two miles outside of Big Spring. In 1954, with the popularity of his band, the West Texas Cowboys, on the rise, Hoyle Nix and his brother Ben decided to capitalize on their success and build their own hall. Nix had an affection for the American West so he chose the name The Stampede. The building is 120 feet long and 40 feet wide with stucco exterior. The walls and rafters inside remained unfinished, but the hardwood dance floor was made to last. As Nix’s youngest son, Jody, emphasized, “The Stampede is not a fancy place. It was built to dance in. It wasn’t built for looks.”
Charlie Smith, the banjoist in the band, designed the logo on the outside of the building, and he painted the mural of cowboys and cattle roping as the backdrop for the bandstand. Maximum capacity is less than 500, but on opening night on May 8, 1954, more than 1,000 people were in attendance. There has never been any alcohol sold at The Stampede. It’s strictly BYOB. A typical audience ranges in age from seniors to newborns.
During the 1950s and 1960s, western swing legend Bob Wills regularly stopped at The Stampede when touring through the state. In 1973 Wills, who was wheelchair-bound, returned for one of his final public appearances “to play a dance,” one more time. Although primarily a venue for the Nix family, Johnnie Lee Wills, Jimmy Heap, T. Texas Tyler, Chubby Wise, Shoji Tabuchi, Johnny Bush, Frenchie Burke, Tony Booth, Bobby Flores, and Jake Hooker have all performed at The Stampede. To further attest to its statewide reputation, Texas Monthly singled out the venerable structure for attention in three of its issues (July 1977, March 1995, and December 2009).
The Stampede was home to Hoyle Nix and the West Texas Cowboys for thirty-one years, and since 1985 it has served as base of operations for Jody Nix and his Texas Cowboys. In the early twenty-first century it remains one of the classic country dance halls in the state with a rich history, and until the younger Nix chooses to retire, the sound of twin fiddles and steel guitar will continue to mix with boots scooting across a hardwood floor in true Texas style.