Blowhard, Esq. writes:
A description of Wichita would be incomplete without a notice of the notorious dance house on the west side of the river, kept by that singular personage ROWDY JOE, or Joseph Lowe, his real name.
Joe has been a frontiersman for many years, and has experienced about as much roughness as any other man. His dance house is patronized mainly by cattle herders, though all classes visit it; the respectable mostly from curiosity. I understand that the receipts over his bar average over one hundred dollars per night for months. The receipts are for drinks. No tax is levied for dancing, but it is expected that the males will purchase drinks for themselves and female partners at the conclusion of each dance.
Joe is his own policeman, and maintains the best of order. No one is disposed to pick a quarrel with him, or infringe upon the rules of his house. A dancing party at this place is unique, as well as interesting. The Texan, with mammoth spurs on his boots, which are all exposed, and a broad brimmed sombrero on his head, is seen dancing by the side of a well dressed, gentlemanly-appearing stranger from some eastern city; both having painted and jeweled courtezans for partners. In the corner of the hall are seen gamblers playing at their favorite game of poker. Jests and conversation suitable to the place and occasion are heard.
I would not recommend the establishment as one adapted for the schooling of the rising generation, but to those of mature years, who should become acquainted with all phases of society, Rowdy Joe’s is a good place to get familiarized with one peculiar phase. While I would not recommend Rowdy Joe as a model for Sunday school scholars, yet I am constrained to say that there are many men passing in society as gentlemen whose hearts are black in comparison with his.
— A correspondent from the Topeka Daily Kansas Commonwealth, October 15, 1872, as quoted in Why The West Was Wild