A vision for the West End

Somewhere during Robert Randolph’s cover of "Billie Jean," at Taste of Dallas, it came to me. (Not Bairstow and drugs, but that’s a lede to thrill and terrify.):

Like most Dallasites I know, I wouldn’t typically be caught dead in the West End on a Saturday night. It’s stereotypically tourista-land, home to chain restaurants and visitors who don’t know any better. But without any evening attractions other than restaurants and tourist-focused merchants to draw a crowd, it’s looked upon by most locals as sterile and un-cool.

And the tourist trade alone doesn’t make for a vibrant entertainment district. That’s probably why the West End Marketplace is so fallow these days.

But Saturday night, with the streets packed with people and great music at multiple stages, the West End seemed downright cool. It had a Bourbon-Street-sans-vomit feel to it. I’d like to see that more often. And with the advantage of the DART line, it should draw more than Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville, with the right kind of attractions.

So my modest proposal to bring me and other locals back on a regular basis?

  • Close Market Street every week from 6 PM Friday to 3 AM Sunday.
  • Make the West End a safe zone from open-container laws. I don’t know what the legal process is, but basically the equivalent of what goes on during the Taste o’ Dallas. Add a couple of those hurricane stands that populate Bourbon Street.
  • Put a half-dozen cops on patrol.
  • Run the DART rail until 2:00 AM on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Live music outdoors every weekend. At least one free stage, even if it’s a cover band. Another view would be to open a Stubbs-esque venue, perhaps on the same parking lot that housed the main stage for this weekend’s festival. But it’s important that it be open air, like Stubbs, so that the music can bleed out onto the street.

So, get to it!

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.