The mood is serious at Revolver when I arrive for ladies night. Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right” has the country line-dancing crowd intently swishing and slowly shuffling. It’s overtly sexual, nontraditional music for this form of dance, and from the ladies’ smiles, that seems to be the taboo appeal. Furtado quickly gives way to ’80s standard “Your Love” by The Outfield, before resident DJ Sinner builds back up to the exuberant country-bar staple “Cotton Eye Joe,” which detaches even the staunchest non-dancer from the bars, sucking them into the mass gliding counterclockwise over the smooth wooden dance floor that is the center of Santa Fe Station’s new country-crossover nightclub.
“It’s time to get sleazy!” Sinner calls to the room, an apparent cue to those who like their dancing linear; it’s time for a Sleazy Slide. Next up, “Cupid Shuffle” has the same instant pandemonium-inducing effect as “Cotton Eye Joe.” Despite Revolver’s status as a Saloon & Dance Hall, the crowd could have been downloaded from the party photos of any major club on the Strip, save for the addition of a few Stetsons. Emulating other famous country-crossover clubs—Denver’s Stampede comes to mind—Revolver blends mechanical- bull-riding, line-dancing, two-stepping and country music with Top 40 and hip-hop to an effect that pleases all.
Somewhere between Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and the Peas’ “Imma Be,” I slip silently off my barstool and scribble my name on a waiver that says that if mechanical-bull operator Sean accidently sends me through the tin roof, I won’t sue. It’s only my second time on a bull, but “Hold on like hell” was not a difficult lesson to learn. Sean goes easy on me … at first, then turns that little dial, inching me closer to airborne. I can sense his increasing frustration as I successfully push and pull to steady my place on the saddle. But fatigue finally overtakes me. I loosen my grip on the as-yet-unnamed bull’s harness and fly off, landing softly, legs akimbo and laughing like a loon.
“Hey, Delilah,” I inquire of Revolver’s beloved 6-foot long armadillo-shaped disco ball, “Why is country so hot right now?” It’s not often that I get to interview an inanimate object, but then Revolver’s disco armadillo “Delilah” is pretty accommodating. (Either that or I hit my head.)
Without missing a beat, she answers: “I think it’s because more people can relate to new country. It’s no longer just the old honky-tonk music. It has transformed into songs about relationships, cheating, poker, rock ’n’ roll and relaxing beachside. You have top country artists topping the pop charts—Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban. I hear them on Top 40 country stations all the time here in Vegas.”
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Revolver isn’t alone in its aim. Town Square’s Cadillac Ranch readily blends country with pop, rock and hip-hop sensibilities, as does Stoney’s Rockin’ Country (named for the second consecutive year among Nightclub & Bar Magazine’s top 100 clubs in the nation). Stoney’s North 40 returns to the scene in early April at 5990 Centennial Circle. Stratosphere’s Back Alley Bar is already bringing country-rock band WolfCreek Thursday through Monday at 10 p.m. Gilley’s Barbecue, Dancehall & Saloon opens the second week of April in its new location at Treasure Island. Jonathan Fine’s PBR Rock Bar arrives at the Miracle Mile Shops in April for a short preview during the Professional Bull Riders’ festivities. And even more country-crossover venues are rumored to follow.
Another round of drinks arrives, delivered by cocktail servers in black leather chaps. Is Vegas ready for a country-crossover club, Delilah? “For sure!” she retorts from her place of honor, the lights playing off her mirrored belly. “Vegas has always been the cutting-edge city when it comes to nightlife and entertainment … so it’s just natural that Vegas does the same in the country world.”
Delilah and Revolver are on to something: If Vegas hasn’t already “gone country,” it’s just about to! And I might just go with it.