Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gene's Music Bar

Looking North on Akard St. from Wood.   Adolphus Hotel in background.   Color by Leonard Raef
Gene's Music Bar opened about 1955 or 56 and was located at 307-09 S. Akard, just a few blocks up from the Adolphus Hotel. In the 1950s & early 60s this was considered the "fun" side of town. There were pool halls, drinking places, and strip joints; and nearby hotels like the Baker featured exotic dancers in the nightclub and live music. Gene's was known to be a longtime gay hangout was sometimes targeted by the vice squad. In 1958 it was also the proud owner of "the Southwest's first and only stereophonic music system."

Owner Walter Lawrence, who also ran The Lasso Bar, the Jungle Hut Lounge, and the Golden Steer #2, all on Akard, was questioned by the Warren Commission as part of the investigation of the Kennedy assassination.  Lawrence was acquainted with Jack Ruby, and because Ruby had been seen walking some dogs in the vicinity of the club, the Commission seemed to think he could verify for them that Ruby was an active homosexual. Good fodder for conspiracy theorists, I reckon.
After the Baker Hotel was demolished in 1980, the old "fun" part of Dallas eventually disappeared, and Akard became a narrow tree-lined driveway for ATT Plaza.