Sunday, April 25, 2010

American Cultural Observation 209 : Weekend Cowboys and Tornadoes...

A long post, a lot happened, sorry about that! Get a cup of coffee, settle in and enjoy! After a very stormy Friday night with a twister ripping through a neighbouring town and one trying to form quite close to where I am staying (it suddenly hit me at 2:20 am while standing in front of my picture window looking at the severely angled trees, that maybe, just maybe, it is not a good idea...)that it was time for me to head out and explore the city of Fort Worth. On my way I stopped to meet up with some colleagues in Wills Point for the Blue Bird Festival. Uhm, yeah, whohoo, cutesy little city but small gene pool if you catch my meaning! :-) Had a pork 'kebob' for the first time. Oh my, was very very good with the pork truly melting in the mouth.
YUM! Thanks Valerie!

For many years I have heard whispers about Billy Bob's Texas... normally told in a whisper, some love it, most hated it, I have heard the whole gamut. Not so long ago it just hit me that I am not that far from it, less than a two hour drive!

Billy Bob's Texas is a popular country & western nightclub in the Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas. It promotes itself as "The World's Largest Honky Tonk" (a type of bar with musical entertainment common in the Southern and Southwestern United States) with 127,000 square feet (12,000 m²). Billy Bob's opened in 1981 to national attention with Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers as the first performers. Other artists who appeared that first week were Waylon Jennings, Janie Fricke & Willie Nelson. Since, artists such as Pat Green have carried on the tradition. In addition to several dance floors, musical stages, arcade games, and billiards tables, Billy Bob's is the home to a small indoor rodeo arena, in which they have weekend bullriding events.

Whohooo! See my fascination? Built as a cattle barn in the early 1900s, the building was enclosed as a City of Fort Worth Centennial project in 1936. With sloped floors for easy cleaning due to the cattle pens, haha, the building also had the perfect setting for a concert venue. That would have to wait nearly 40 years. During that gap, the building was used as an AT-10 airplane manufacturing plant and a department store. Clark’s Department Store was so large that the stock boys had to wear roller skates. But on April 1, 1981, Billy Bob Barnett opened what is now internationally known as “The World’s Largest Honky Tonk”. With a capacity over 6,000 people, over 20 bar stations, the best in entertainment and live bullriding, it wasn’t long before Billy Bob’s Texas won the first of its five Academy of Country Music’s “Club of the Year” awards. BBT has also been awarded the Country Music Association’s “Club of the Year” twice. The nightclub quickly entered the public consciousness in the early 1980s with frequent references by the Ewing Clan on the TV drama Dallas.

Now, you have to close your eyes and imagine this. 6,000 Content, happy, white Texans, all bejeaned and most sporting a Stetson of some kind... LINE DANCING! What the heck! What is with line dancing! I stood there mesmerized... elbow to elbow, 3 steps left, jump, tree steps to the right, two steps back, twirl, 3 steps forward, slap your thigh... I felt my jaw drop. These were educated people, weekend cowboys, having the time of their lives. That also brings me to this. Alcohol was flowing freely, but yet these were the most well behaved people on the planet. One guy next to me had a tad too much to drink and was becoming a bit rambunctious. Suddenly there were two strapping cowboys on either side of him telling him that maybe it is time to go home 'Son'. They were the same age! 'Okay' he replied and meekly followed them with no fuss. I would have aoppreciated one prodding him with a cow prod at least, but no fuss.

Bullriding was fun as usual. The first bull out got a clown! Right in front of me. It was awesome! I have neer seen a clown move that fast. Halfway up the fence the bull scooped him and helped him to the top. He had a nasty gash on his leg, but hey he was a clown! i think the bull had clown issues too as he beelined for the clown.

Oh, while ordering dinner I saw something called Calf Fries. Okay, I know what Steak Fries are, slightly larger cut deep fried potatoes, like half a wedge maybe. So, the calf bit confused me and I asked the nice lady behind the counter. She started laughing and then with a sudden straight face told be it is slices of deep friend Bull testicles and would I like some. 'Uh, NO' I replied quickly, but firmly. I went for the house cut steak instead and had her confirm that it was indeed a presentable piece of beef.

The culmination of the evening was a concert by Country and Western singer Robert Earl Keene. I admit that I had no idea who he was but the crowd knew and loved him. Most were wholeheartedly singing offkey along. All in all a great evening out!

Ah, thank you Texas!

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