Press "Enter" to skip to content

Historical commission recognizes 1940’s dance hall

BY PUDGE WILLCOX
In recognition of Black History Month, the Chambers County Historical Commission placed their Old House Recognition Sign in front of the Double Bayou Dance Hall located on Eagle Ferry Road in Double Bayou.
An enthusiastic group of dance hall supporters braved near freezing temperatures to assist several members of the Historical Commission in a short ceremony to recognize the old historical building.

The dance hall was opened in the 1940’s and for many years, it was operated by Manuel “Tanzy” Rivers. Mr. Rivers’ widow, Martha was on hand and shared stories of how her nephew blues guitarist Pete Mayes started his musical career at the dance hall.
Olga Jackson, lifelong resident of Double Bayou, told how boats would come up Double Bayou bringing visitors to the dance hall. She said that the Junteenth Celebrations often lasted for three days but they always ended in time for Sunday School and Church.
In the later years, the dance hall became famous because of the jazz concerts that were conducted by Pete Mayes and his band. Bert Lewis, a cousin to Pete Mayes and a member of the band, told stories of their travels in all 50 states of the U.S.
The band played concerts in the dance hall on Christmas and New Years, drawing huge crowds from the Houston vicinity.
Kenneth and Donnie Standley, both lifelong residents of Double Bayou, shared stories of how they had gone to the dance hall as youngsters. Donnie commented that his first date with his wife Donna was to attend a Pete Mayes concert in the dance hall.
Although the dance hall is now in a state of deterioration, a movement is underway by the Historical Commission and other interested parties to restore the dance hall as another tourist destination to Chambers County. Steve Sucher, a member of the Jazz Association, once organized tours from Houston to attend Pete Mayes Concerts in the dance hall.
He attended the ceremony and offered support and encouragement for the restoration project. Pete Mayes’ son Michael thanked the Commission and all in attendance for initiating a project to restore the dance hall and honor the remembrance of his father.
The Commission welcomes any information that is available regarding Pete Mayes or the Double Bayou Dance Hall for display in the Chambers County Historical Museum.