Posts on social media began circulating this week regarding an incident Friday at the Broken Spoke in which one of the long-running country dance hall’s owners told a same-sex couple to refrain from kissing in one of the venue’s restaurant booths.
The allegation was posted to a closed Facebook group called Queer Exchange: Austin. One of the two women involved claimed that someone from the venue approached her “after I leaned across the booth to kiss my partner and proceeded to yell at us that we could do that outside or elsewhere, but not in her bar.”
Attempts to reach the woman who posted about the incident had not been returned as of early Wednesday afternoon.
Broken Spoke owner James White acknowledged Wednesday morning that he had heard about the incident, which he said took place before he’d arrived at the venue on Friday. He confirmed that his wife, Broken Spoke co-owner Annetta White, spoke to the two women after they shared a kiss.
James White said that the Broken Spoke also asks customers of the opposite sex to stop kissing if the venue’s proprietors believe the display is overly passionate. “We tell them all the same way,” White said. “We don’t mind a peck on the cheek; we just don’t like it when it gets passionate.
“Whether it’s a guy and a girl, we get on them about it all the time. You can always tell when it gets too passionate; before you know they’re fondling each other, and we don’t want that going on.”
White says that the women were told to stop but were not escorted from the premises. “They didn’t get thrown out,” he said, “and they’re welcome to come back.”
In a follow-up comment on Facebook, the woman who posted about the incident indicated that the venue’s bartender waived payment for the beers she and her partner had ordered, and that a member of the venue’s happy-hour band “came out to apologize and give me a hug.”
Todd Deatherage of local country band the Merles confirmed that band members witnessed the incident as they were setting up their gear for their performance. In a statement to the Statesman on Tuesday, the band expressed concern about the nature of what took place.
“We were saddened by the incident that occurred before our show last Friday,” the statement read. “We feel that everyone should have the right to express their feelings of love, regardless of sexual orientation.”