Into the Wild is a month-long investigative blog series that explores an array of events hosted by The Wild Detectives, a café/ bookstore that brings the Dallas community together through interesting events hosted in a welcoming atmosphere.
Nestled on a quiet side street in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District, The Wild Detectives storefront is not immediately visible to the casual passerby. Those who are familiar with this bookstore; however, know that to find a stimulating place to work and study, converse with intellectuals in the community, enjoy a music or theatre performance, and even share a drink at the bar, they need look no further than this eccentric space.
The Wild Detectives gets its unusual name and overall mission from a loose translation of Roberto Bolaño’s novel Los Detectives Salvajes (The Savage Detectives, 1998), who according to Mexican author Juan Villoro “are life investigators, inspectors of the experience.”
From its opening in 2014, The Wild Detectives has been committed to instilling a sense of community, where patrons can be inspired by both visiting artists and those sipping a coffee beside them. The Wild Detectives was founded by Spanish civil engineers and long-time friends Javier García del Moral and Paco Vique, who wanted to create a space where they could mix their two passions: “books and booze,” according to their website.
What seemed like a simple mission soon turned into a celebrated business, receiving significant praise including being named Best Bookstore by D Magazine for three years in a row from 2014 to 2016 and being featured as a Best New Thing in Town by the Dallas Observer in 2014. The Wild Detectives was also featured at a 2016 UT Arlington TEDx, in which Javier García discussed the value of conversation in advancing the understanding and acceptance of various cultures. The Wild Detectives continues to advance this idea through hosting thought-provoking lectures, discussions and performances, and through the implementation of ideas such as wifi-free weekends, which encourage patrons to disconnect from their devices and converse with each other.
I spoke with Andres de la Casa-Huertas, the Media Director for The Wild Detectives, who shed some more light on how this company is able to provide such diverse events and opportunities for its patrons. He explained that when it comes to scheduling events “the process is very organic, sometimes the events come to us, other times we see who is touring and we reach out to them to see if they’re interested, but we always are thinking about what people would be interested in seeing.” When asked about the impact of wifi-free weekends and how it has changed the atmosphere of The Wild Detectives on those days, de la Casa-Huertas noted that this practice has helped to advance the mission of the business, to create conversation and facilitate cultural awareness.
As I sat at the bar in this cozy bookstore, sipping my refreshing black iced coffee and admiring the vast assortment of books lining the walls, I began to speak with the barista, Olivia Leigh, who shared her impression of The Wild Detectives and what drew her to work for this business.
Leigh has been working at The Wild Detectives for two years. When asked about her perception of the overall atmosphere of the café, Leigh immediately responded, “Eclectic, definitely eclectic.” Leigh continued to explain that what drew her to The Wild Detectives was the array of events that The Wild Detectives hosts, from poetry readings to drag shows. Leigh described The Wild Detectives as a “cultural destination,” where people from many different walks of life can come together and appreciate art and literature. “People often walk in and are a bit confused,” Leigh said. “But I always tell them to ask questions. This is a very welcoming and inclusive environment, and once people get used to it they often come back again and again.”
For Dallas residents looking to catalyze their personal life investigation, 314 W Eighth St. is an excellent place to start.