North Texans have become accustomed to unseasonably warm winters, but that doesn't mean they should miss out on activities associated with the season. That's why one Dallas bar owner is opening an outdoor ice skating rink near Fair Park. It debuts Friday, Nov. 24.
"Dallas needs this fun stuff to do, big time," says Craig Spivey, owner of Squarebody Saloon (the bar formerly known as the Goat Ranch), which is located on Haskell Avenue near Fair Park. "We're excited to create a destination for this place because it's so awesome down here."
Don't worry about the rink melting. In truth, there's no ice involved at all. Instead, the rink is made of several "synthetic ice" slabs — essentially wax-covered plastic — that are secured together to create an area 30 feet-by-100 feet on which kids and adults can skate (and slip).
The idea of skating on plastic may sound far fetched, but synthetic ice is commonly used by athletes who want to practice playing hockey at home and in places with warm climates. I strapped on some skates to give it a try and the experience is much like skating on real ice. The plastic is deceivingly smooth and it's easy pick up speed, even if my skates seemed to get caught every so often. Spivey is planning to add a surface lubricant to make the rink even more slick. And if you fall, no worries — because there's no ice, the rink isn't cold.
The skating rink is set up in the parking lot of Squarebody Saloon. Opened in 2016, the space was originally planned to be a bar and driving range — think TopGolf with more dive bar attitude — but Spivey continually struggled with the city of Dallas to obtain the proper permitting to open the golf attraction. After numerous attempts, he decided to rent the bar out primarily for private events, as well as host a few car shows. Spivey and his son, Garrett, build out old square-body automobiles there now, hence the name. (Keep an eye out for the Pabst Blue Ribbon-wrapped Gremlin.)
Though his conflict with the city meant the demise of the Goat Ranch, it also forced Spivey to get creative, which is how the idea for a skating rink came about. The bar's already eclectic accents, such as the "trees" made of scrap metal and the Shoot Out Saloon target game, have now been decorated for Christmas and the vibe is wonderfully campy, as if the Griswold family owned a dive bar in Christmas Vacation. Spivey hopes the holiday spirit will be infectious enough to bring people back throughout the season — and beyond. The rink is expected to be open through Jan. 21.
The debut of the skating rink also marks the bar's reopening as a neighborhood watering hole, Spivey says. Squarebody Saloon has a full bar as well as 33 taps serving local craft beer. And because it's across Parry Street from Fair Park, you could hit the rink and the new Holiday Wonder light exhibit in one trip.
Squarebody Saloon will be open Monday through Thursday 4 to 11 p.m. and Friday through Sunday noon to midnight. Skating costs $12 for adult and $10 for kids; that prices includes a pair of skates and access to the rink. For more information, visit DallasIceSkating.com.