Cindy Gibson hears a lot of ecstatic exclamations from first-time jumpers—including gratuitous use of the words "awesome" and "amazing"—but one of the most memorable remarks she ever heard came from a woman celebrating her 81st birthday. After landing, Cindy asked her why she waited so long to try skydiving. The woman replied that her husband never let her. Then she cracked a sly smile and said, "But now he's dead."
Cindy certainly understands the lifelong desire to skydive. "I don't remember a time when I didn’t want to jump out of airplanes," she says. But growing up, she figured you had to be paratrooper to do it. Then as a waitress in college, she overheard some customers talking about going skydiving, and she convinced them to take her along. The more she went, the more ways she found to improve the experience. With this newfound love and knowledge of the skydiving business, she sought out a parcel of land and a passionate team and founded Texas Skydiving Center.
Today, she and her team of instructors lead tandem jumps, static-line jumps, and solo free falls thousands of feet above their picturesque facility. Beyond using equipment and instructional methods that are compliant with the United States Parachute Association's standards, the instructors' claim their chief difference lies in the individual attention they give each client. Groups are kept small so that all are on a first-name basis, and the instructors ask each person what they hope to do in the air. A bunch of flips? Maybe a zen-like float? On the way down, they can even record the jumps with several filming options. An eco-friendly dropzone then awaits skydivers, where chattering guinea fowl snatch up insects, colorful songbirds flit through wildflowers, and a llama and alpaca knit their own wool into a commemorative scarf for each successful skydiver.
For the guests of Cowboy Fan Connection, a Dallas Cowboys game actually starts three hours before kickoff. For both home and away games, the company hosts all-inclusive tailgate parties—with or without tickets to the game itself—that keep revelers sustained with burgers, brats, drinks, and raffles for Cowboys merchandise. Customers can dress the part with apparel from the online store to show off their fandom or eerie resemblance to Troy Aikman to current and former players during private autograph sessions.
In addition to game-day events, Cowboy Fan Connection also hosts Saturday-night dinner parties where fans come together to break bread as sportswriter Mickey Spagnola and former Cowboy Nate Newton broadcast their weekly radio program, Radio Road Show. Stadium tours the day before or after a game enable fans to guide themselves throughout Cowboys Stadium, while off-season trips such as a weekend in the Bahamas give fans the chance to draw up defensive plays in the sand with current and former Cowboys.
Authentic Belly Dancing Entertainment & Academy's staff of professional dancers pop up around Dallas, shimmering across the stages of restaurants, dazzling guests at private parties, and stealing the stony hearts of competition judges. During their weekend performances and special events, solitary dancers, partners, trios, and troupes perform traditional and Egyptian belly dance movements. They spice up routines with swords, candles, and fire while astounding audiences by manipulating their stomach muscles to pour shots or stop errant cannon balls.
Back at their headquarters on the hardwood studio floors of Dana's Dance Academy, the professional swirlers impart their art to aspiring dancers in beginner and advanced belly-dancing classes throughout the week. A social and enjoyable form of aerobic exercise—unlike sleep dancing, which is essentially solitary—the classes also aim to boost students' confidence, grace, and poise.
Academy students can take their skills to the public stage by performing at Harem Nites at Stratnos Greek Tavern, where, on the first Thursday of every month, professionals and first-timers alike dance together in front of a live audience of spectators, friends, and family.
The leading ladies at The Girls Room, who believe that every woman has the right to be pretty, sexy, and strong, help their students build both physical and mental strength during fitness classes that combine alluring dance moves and hardcore workouts. They put their love of burlesque to use in pole-dancing classes and barre-based Barre-lesque sessions. The team also helms tamer, less sensual fitness classes such as yoga and Zumba. The girls' online shop stocks virtual shelves with accessories such as Mighty Grip gloves, which allow wearers to perform gravity-defying pole-dance moves or safely carry out celebratory cartwheels in bowling alleys. Their bachelorette parties eschew the concept of traditional bridal get-togethers for more unconventional gatherings, teaching brides-to-be and their entourage signature pole dances, lap dances, or burlesque techniques.
Male and female competitors climb over rope walls, splash through mud pits, sneak under barbwire, and climb over oversized tires in a goodwill 5K and 10K race. Runners of all skill levels gather at the start dressed however they like, sprinting through the course shirtless or even in mesh smoking jackets. During the 10 a.m. wave, racers are encouraged to don their favorite patriotic garb. Everyone competes at their own pace, and all participants receive a Medal of Honor to hang round their neck upon completion.
Past events have attracted up to 2,100 racers, all of whom are treated to a post-race, beer-filled celebration with live music from local bands. Photographers document the entire event, capturing a portfolio of epic action shots and barbaric yawps. Water stations are peppered throughout the course, and a gear check allows racers to safely stow belongings with a watchful staff member.
Players attempt to control shots down narrow, zigzagging fairways and carefully sidestep water hazards on 9 of 18 holes as they traverse the challenging layout of Twin Wells Golf Club. The 18-hole course guides play across several branches of a winding river and alongside an elongated lake on the par-5 13th hole, which hugs the edge of the fairway for most of the hole's length. From the time golfers tee off on the 1st hole until they hole out on the 18th, the Dallas skyline stands visible in the distance, stealing the spotlight from amphibious golf carts practicing belly flops.
Course at a Glance: