While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Jason Sweeney
Continental Zydeco Ballroom
Owner Doris McClendon stands at the door of her club, the Continental Zydeco Ballroom in Houston. Located in the heart of Frenchtown, the legendary venue, originally owned by her grandfather, Charley Johnson, was the Bayou City's premier zydeco showcase until it closed after McClendon's death in 1997. Photograph by James Fraher. 

CONTINENTAL ZYDECO BALLROOM. The Continental Zydeco Ballroom, the largest and best-known venue in Texas to feature zydeco music on a regular basis until its closure in 1997, was located at 3101 Collingsworth in Houston, Texas. The venue, originally owned by Charley Johnson, was first called Johnson’s Lounge in the 1940s when it functioned as a neighborhood entertainment venue. The facility, which initially hosted orchestra and swing-band floor shows, at first declined to book zydeco musicians. Around 1951 following the success of zydeco musicians at Irene’s Cafe however, Johnson hired accordionist Alfonse Lonnie Mitchell to play at the lounge. During this period, zydeco could be heard at the venue on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.

After the death of Charley Johnson, Mitchell leased the business and renamed it Mitchell’s Lounge. Mitchell, who continued performing at his club, often hosted zydeco music six nights a week. When his five-year lease expired, the property reverted to Johnson’s granddaughter, Doris McClendon. After taking control, McClendon promptly changed the name to the Continental Zydeco Ballroom. She continued to hire Mitchell, sometimes up to six nights a week, until his death in September of 1995. As owner, McClendon worked vigorously to promote the ballroom, often appearing on the Big Roger Collins’s Sunday morning radio show on KPFT-FM to announce upcoming performances at the ballroom. The club hosted virtually every major act in the genre, including: Buckwheat (Stanley Dural), Boozoo (Wilson Chavis), “Rockin’ Dopsie” (Alton Rubin), John Delafose, Clifton Chenier, Beau Jocque (Andrus Espre), and L. C. Donatto. The ballroom closed following McClendon’s death in November of 1997.


Lawrence Clayton and Joe W. Specht, eds., The Roots of Texas Music (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2003). John Minton, “Houston Creoles and Zydeco: The Emergence of an African American Urban Popular Style,” American Music, Volume 14 (Winter 1996). Roger Wood, Texas Zydeco (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006). 

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jason Sweeney, "CONTINENTAL ZYDECO BALLROOM," accessed August 11, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xdc09.

Uploaded on May 28, 2013. Modified on August 3, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...