Cowboy boots, tattered ball caps and concert T-shirts are welcome attire at any American Aquarium show. The country-rock band is a regular at boozy, neon-lit honky-tonks, but during a recent stop at the newly revived Statler Ballroom in Dallas, the concert crowd seemed underdressed.

On the same night, handsome couples dressed in stylish evening wear gathered near a pristine '67 Corvette showpiece at the Statler Hotel valet stand. A charity boxing event was taking place across the street in Main Street Garden, which meant concertgoers' journey up the stairs from the gorgeous midcentury lobby to the ballroom included a view of shirtless boxers warming up inside a meeting room while passing more black-dress-wearing women in heels.

Honey, we are not at Billy Bob's.

American Aquarium performed at the Statler Ballroom  on July 28.

American Aquarium performed at the Statler Ballroom  on July 28.

Jason Janik/Special Contributor

In a region where it seems as though a midsize concert venue pops up every other week, the Statler Ballroom in downtown Dallas manages to be strikingly unique and resourcefully conventional at once. Originally opened in 1956, the 14,000-square-foot ballroom space has hosted performances by icons including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The venue's recent renovation and reopening after decades of disrepair and vacancy give it the kind of sparkle Dallasites can't resist.

The ballroom-turned-darkened concert space holds about 2,000 people, similar to South Side Ballroom a couple of miles away. For the American Aquarium show, multiple bars were set up near the back and the standing-room-only crowd was glued to the front, but the ballroom lacked grit and character often attached to historic venues.

One of its strongest assets is that the Statler can transform itself. On another evening, when soul and gospel icon Mavis Staples graced Dallas with a riveting performance, the ballroom had a remarkably different vibe. VIP tables inhabited the front third of the venue, followed by general admission seating and then a standing-room-only section in the back.

GA seating caused a particularly unusual challenge, as some concertgoers claimed spots by leaving their tickets on chairs -- some even had the audacity to write "RESERVED" on the back -- before leaving the venue and forcing others to play an endless game of "Is this seat taken?" Throughout the section, single seats separated concertgoers.

Something that also transformed: drink prices. When American Aquarium came through, domestic and premium beers cost $4 and $6, respectively. During Staples' concert, they were bumped to $6 and $8. It's possible those fluctuate depending on the artist performing and the ticket price.

The Statler does not have a public parking lot for concert attendees; however, there are some surface lots and parking meters near the building and around Main Street Garden. The hotel offers valet service for $15 -- and judging by the swarms in the lobby after both concerts, many people opted to use it. Lyft and Uber are also popular options for those planning to indulge at one of the hotel's three other bars.

American Aquarium performs to a full crowd at the new Statler Ballroom in Dallas.

American Aquarium performs to a full crowd at the new Statler Ballroom in Dallas.

Jason Janik/Special Contributor

Drawbacks aside, the positives at this venue are important. The sound is crystal clear, and the view of the stage from just about anywhere in the space is even more so. Considering that the ballroom also hosts big company conferences in addition to concerts, the Statler is a surprisingly intimate space. Plus, it boasts the most luxurious ladies' restroom in town.

Singer Mavis Staples inspired the crowd Statler Hotel ion Aug. 24 with her powerful set of tunes. 

Singer Mavis Staples inspired the crowd Statler Hotel ion Aug. 24 with her powerful set of tunes. 

Carly Geraci/Staff Photographer

Despite its upscale surroundings, the venue is a come-as-you-are type of joint, whether that means you're dressed to enjoy a set of twangy rock tunes or a glamorous evening of music from a living legend.

Upcoming shows at the Statler Ballroom:

  • Dec. 13: KXT Holiday Concert featuring JD McPherson, $25-$2,500.
  • Dec. 15: Hayes Carll and Robert Ellis, $25-$2,500.
  • Dec. 29: Old 97's Holiday Hoopla, $26.50-$2,500.
  • Jan. 11: The Spazmatics, $15-$115.
  • Feb. 16: Drew and Ellie Holcomb, $29.50-$115.
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