Back in the saddle

Only this time I get thrown off a mechanical bull

Photo: Aaron Thompson

Lying on my back, drunk as the mint in a Julep, I’m still picking pink bachelorette boa fuzz off the black, felt-covered mechanical bull above me. I’m utterly amazed it came to this, but I swear it was the club’s fault for not distracting me from the two things that landed me here: the bar and the bull. Damn you, bull!

Saturday, January 31, 11:30 p.m.

For all intents and purposes, Santa Fe Station is like Red Rock, only littler … and north-er. There, Stoney’s North Forty is a third of the size of the big Stoney’s by the South Point, coming in at just under 10,000 square feet. With all the amenities of a honky tonk (hardwood dance floor, sawdust, billiards, mechanical bull, servers in chaps and little else) and the finery of a Vegas nightclub (VIP section, bottle service and did I mention the servers in next-to-nothing?), Stoney’s is country enough to attract country-lovers, yet mainstream enough to attract me.

The DJ spins videos along with the songs when possible, rodeo coverage when not and basketball throughout. There are balloons where there’s a birthday, shots where there’s a divorce, roses for the ladies and all the hats, boots and tight Levi’s one would expect. There’s also a surprisingly young crowd mixed in with the older. They orderly lineup for the Watermelon Crawl—which looks to me like coed, cowboy Zumba—and instantly I flash on memories of Boot Scootin’ Boogie-ing at my Sweet 16 and of attending a German prom where I was forced to Bavarian waltz. Ugh.

Far more graceful than I, these couples glide as if on rails during the two-step, gently bouncing off one another like bumper cars as they slowly make their way around the ring, always counter-clockwise. Others keep to the center, fixed, like lily pads.

“Think there are any Jewish cowboys here?” I ask my girlfriend Emily. “Um, I know a few Jewish cowboys …?” she volunteers. Alas, Wyatt Rubenstein and Waylon Blumenthal are back in Texas. I’ll have to settle for a few good cow-goys.

“Did you know you look like Gloria Estefan?” says a tall, long-haired rocker type named Paul, jogging me from my reverie; his buddy Nick has the lone fauxhawk in the room. Beyond their heads a neon sign blinks “Even cowboys like a little rock ’n’ roll.” So I have to assume the opposite is true as well. “I listen to anything but rap,” says Nick. “And I listen to anything but country!” I return. Funny how country and rap polarize people. We chew on that thought for a sec, and leaving, I extend my hand to meet their tattooed ones. “It was nice meeting you ... Paul?” He grasps it, nods: “Estefan.”

The next stop is the Las Vegas Country Saloon on Fremont West, next to Hennessey’s and the Brass Lounge. The bones of the former Race Rock Café are still apparent in the steel shelf running the length of two walls that used to display NASCAR cars. Open seven days a week, LVCS offers live music almost every night. It’s a nice space—“too nice,” says Emily, citing the lack of sawdust and longnecks; 25 people do little to fill it. Well, at least there are four stripper poles! Somewhere around 1:30 a.m. I’m debating between a pole and the mechanical bull.

It’s a small enough bull, or so it seems to one who’s never ridden one. It has “Jack Daniel’s” emblazoned on its rump and is dotted with pink feather-boa remnants, which I daintily pick off while it starts to slowly undulate beneath me. I playfully rest my feet on its stuffed, leather horns and arch like an overdressed Lady Godiva. This does not go over well at all with the bull’s operator. Soon I’m just a gal with a bucking-bull wedgie. The struggle is brief, but my friends are kind enough to take blackmail photos. Finger in the air, I demand, “Wait! Did I stay on for eight and a half seconds?!”


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