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Real Men Don’t Line Dance

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You can bet I about fell off my stool the first time I saw a guy out on the dance floor during “Acky Breaky Heart.” At first I assumed it was an employee cleaning up some wet saw dust or maybe one of the ladies had slipped and a nice cowboy was offering his hand. But “no,” it was not that easy to brush off. It was a guy, twisting, turning, kicking, and strutting on the same floor as women.

Line dancing, men, don't do it
Real men don’t line dance!

I wasn’t in Texas anymore. I was in LA. Were they filming a movie? I didn’t see any cameras, but I did see some out-of-work actors. Surely, even in this liberal, blue-state, guys did not think it was OK to dance during girl songs? But then low and behold, the song changed, girls left the dance floor, and more guys showed up for an .. uh-um.. “Guy’s Only Dance.” I briefly walked out the front door and looked up at the sign. It said “Cowboy Bar.” I did not know what to do. Should I watch the train wreck or use the time to talk to the girls while the competition was twisting and spinning under the mirrored ball? Unfortunately, I watched.

I’ll let the sleeveless shirts go without much comment. My cousins sometimes wear those. Normally it is to reach an awkward positioned alternator but I guess night club attire is acceptable. I’ll even let the choreographed moves fly under the radar. But I can not go to my grave and not mention the one-arm push ups and winks towards the crowd. Had they no shame?

I guess us Texans are responsible. We started a fad but did not spell out the rules and fully explain the origin of the movement before we let the other 49 start on it. Well better late than never. Here is how the story goes…

One evening at “L.D.s Tavern and Transmission Shop” some of the locals ran into a problem. With the new neon lights L.D. invested in, the normal florescent lights had to be turned off. No sense spending money on “King of Beers,” “Michelob,” and a colored palm tree, if no one could enjoy their beauty. This made the place lit only by the red-glass candles on the booths, the under bar light, the 4 or 5 neon signs, and the glows of cigarettes. Not a problem if you like to drink in the dark. But a huge problem if you are there to dance or meet people. How do know if the girl you are conversing with looks like Hillary Swank or Hillary Clinton? One must have some sort of light source to see if the deep voice is exotic or coming from behind a mustache.

After some debating and a few minor fist-a-cuffs, a decision was made by management. The dance floor was to be utilized to identify the keepers from the throw-backs. It took almost 3 weeks of preparations to get the details down and the grand prize ready. At the end of Saturday night (about 1 hour from last call), all women were invited to the dance floor where hundreds of balloons were floating along the floor. A few of them had been stuffed with discounts for hair perms, a few with movie tickets, and a grand prize weekend trip to the Hallsville Raceway. The stage was set, literally. The lights were turned up so the women could see, the music was turned up, and the guys took notice. The next 15 minutes was dance floor history. There was stomping, kicking, swinging, and even some sliding. In an effort to get a good look at the female patrons, both the women and men had a great time. A tradition was born. Each week around midnight (eleven in dry counties), the music changed, the dance floor lights were turned up, and the men surrounded the center of the bar to watch the women dance and break balloons. Good clean fun was had by all.

After a few months there became less and less balloons, but by then no one cared. The women enjoyed dancing, the men enjoyed watching, and Line Dancing became an LD bar room standard. It wasn’t long until area saloons picked up the tradition and before a few years most all of Texas dance halls wrapped up their weekend nights with a women’s only dance.

Here we are 25 years down the road and I just got back from a trip to Nashville. These are the guys that helped us in the Alamo. The current caretakers of our Houston Oilers. True dear friends of Texas. But I am sad to report… Male Line Dancers live here too. Right out in the open. The bouncers at the door did nothing. The DJ kept the music playing. The bartenders kept pouring drinks. Everyone acted like nothing was wrong. It was like a pink shirt was being worn at a NASCAR event. Like Richard Simmons entering a tough man competition. Like a house-cleaning product commercial airing during a hunting show. It just wasn’t right. I guess we can only claim Colorado and Alaska as good neighbors now. Certainly one can’t line dance to John Denver songs.

Coming soon. Why we put the “mechanical bull” in bars. It’s not what you may think.


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