Squeezing your thighs hard against a slick saddle while moving your hips with the bucking of a mechanical bull—that takes skill. Your lady parts are jiggling and your mouth is wide open in laughter. You’re in the middle of the city, and you live in the suburbs, but somehow you ended up wearing a cowboy hat. You’re thrusting and bouncing, fighting to stay on. The crowd is wildly supportive—spectators can imagine how you’d look riding something else with that much enthusiasm. The bull spins faster, and the experience is magnified by tequila shots. Finally you’re launched onto the bouncy pad surrounding the bull.
Like a child who’s spun in circles, you lay dizzy for a moment before rolling over and crawling away. High-fives and more drinks.
That’s how I imagined it, anyway, so when I heard it was the time of year that NASCAR fans flood the city, I knew that the Las Vegas Country Saloon on Fremont Street was going to be my next bar stop. “This oughta be good,” I thought as I left my car with the valet at Binion’s.
- Las Vegas Country Saloon
- 425 Fremont St., 382-3531.
Binion’s, if you don’t know your Downtown geography, is on the opposite end of the Fremont Street Experience from the Las Vegas Country Saloon, which is tucked above Hennessey’s Irish pub. This gave me an opportunity to walk a few blocks under the lit-up canopy, through the crowd of tourists. They wore NASCAR jackets, Mardi Gras beads and stupid hats. An obese woman with sparse eyebrows ran into me and knocked me into a rack of T-shirts at the official NASCAR merch trailer. “I’m so sorry!” she kept saying. “It’s her birthday,” her partner added apologetically.
“It’s okay,” I assured them. “Happy birthday.”
When I arrived at the building housing Las Vegas Country Saloon, the crowd had thinned. Inside, the escalator area is wallpapered with vintage psychedelic band posters. I rode up past Pink Floyd, pushed the door open and was carded by a tall bouncer.
Unfortunately for a would-be bull-rider, the place was nearly empty. What’s gives, NASCAR fans?! The mechanical bull stood in the middle of the room, not even an operator in sight. Two women danced with each other on the wooden dance floor, in the blue lights shining from the stage. There was a small bachelorette party on hand.
“Want to ride the bull?” the bouncer asked. I looked at the lonely bull and the unusual peacefulness of the bar. Could one girl and her trusty bull turn a quiet evening into a wild night? Doubtful. “No, I better not,” I said. For now, squeezing my thighs against the saddle, being thrown to the mat—that would have to remain in my imagination.
The bouncer walked me out and all the way downstairs, back to the street.