Austin honky tonk icon Broken Spoke celebrates 50 years

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY and ERIN COKER

KVUE

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 6 at 8:01 PM

AUSTIN -- Big town growth sometimes puts a strain on small businesses. But one of the oldest icons in Austin is here to stay.

Despite hardships, the Broken Spoke dance hall is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, and the man who built the honky tonk's walls turns 75.

"It's a place like this where you can come to the Broken Spoke, get your best girl, girl, get the best guy," James White said. "Drink cold beer, you do some dancin'. It's always to live country music."

Since 1964, not much has stayed the same.

"Hopefully, we got a light at the end of the tunnel. This has been going on for over a year, y'know. A lot of construction. A lot of blocked driveways," White said.

It's almost comical to see when you drive down South Lamar. High rise after high rise, and then you see the rusty old Broken Spoke.

"I kinda drew a line with my sword out in the parking lot, like the Alamo," White said. "I can't make it another 50 years, but I'm kinda shooting toward, I just take it five years at a time. Right now I'm looking forward to my 75th birthday."

On where the city limit stopped and dirt road began, White said, "there wasn't nothing out here. In 1964, there wasn't another building in sight out here."

The area has now transformed into a mecca of growth and development. But the Spoke stands strong.

"I built this building. I can be here as long as I want to be here," White said. "A lot of people think that we're gonna move out, but we're not going anywhere. We're here."

As word of the iconic honky tonk spreads, so does the distance of those who visit. No matter what grows up around it, this place remains the "heart" that's deep in the heart of Austin, Texas.

The Broken Spoke has already lost most of its parking lot, and the owner says he was promised several parking spaces. So far he's only gotten 25 designated spots in a nearby parking garage.

He's hoping for more, especially for nights when bands bring in crowds up to 600 people.

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