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Hat Dance

The Grizzly Rose lays it on the line.

Think Hollywood doesn't have an agenda? Brokeback Mountain, a more socially acceptable version of Deliverance, is now sweeping awards ceremonies at which celebrities say it's great that this story is being told, then go out and pick up twenty-something groupies so they can spend the night in front of a home-video camera whose tape will somehow be "released" the next day -- with their agent released just as promptly if the tape doesn't sell well enough. But not only is Brokeback Mountain doing a lot for feel-good gay causes, it's made country music so popular that I recently found myself at the Grizzly Rose Saloon and Dance Emporium (5450 North Valley Highway).

Now, in no way am I insinuating that the Grizzly Rose is an alternative-lifestyle bar; in fact, I can pretty much guarantee that no one at the bar that night (nor any real cowboy anywhere) has any interest in Brokeback Mountain. Short of your favorite neighborhood skin club or Texas, there are few places where traditional American values are so much on display -- along with many interesting fashion items, including large, comical hats. I felt so underdressed, I wished I had my Minnesota Vikings cap with the attached flaxen braids; given all the other hats in attendance, I doubt anyone would have batted an eye. Since it is usually considered poor form to wear your hat indoors, the Grizzly Rose's patrons make up for that indiscretion by decking themselves out in their Sunday best. Jeans are creased; shirts are so starched they could walk into the bar on their own; giant belt buckles are so brilliantly polished they look like monster-truck hubcaps; and the air lats above those buckles have been pumped up to the point that guys need to walk sideways to get through the door.

But our group didn't waste much time looking at the guys. Women who hang out at bars like the Grizzly Rose are affectionately known as "buckle bunnies," since they hop over to the largest belt buckle won for bull riding, calf roping or tobacco spitting. The women also feature large, comical hats perched on top of their overly large hair -- which could be bad if it weren't written in the Bible that women wearing cowboy hats are inherently hot, and that God made both hats and chaps for women on the sixth day so that guys could spend the seventh day picturing them wearing nothing but hats and chaps. And if that weren't enough, buckle bunnies also use low-cut blouses to put a shine on those buckle winners.

Since everybody is always checking out everybody else, it takes a long time to get around the Grizzly Rose. You can't cut across the dance floor, because it's filled with patrons engaging in the lowest form of communication known to man: line dancing. This tribal ritual was born in aboriginal South America but was soon abandoned for less ridiculous modes of communication, like smoke signals and drums. It then saw a resurgence in the days of Billy Ray Cyrus, who added some catchy steps just to reduce the focus on his painfully cheesy mullet. Unfortunately, line dancing has prospered -- unlike Billy Ray -- and in any country bar today, you can see grown men who are otherwise productive members of society spinning around as they try to pick up women. Personally, I think there are more appropriate and less embarrassing courting rituals -- like peeing on your potential mate to lay claim to her.

Despite all this, I like the Grizzly Rose, which is a great place to catch a live band. Over the years, classic-rock and country artists have graced the stage, and even relative unknowns put on a great show for anyone who enjoys good, loud music. Hell, I've even danced here. While line dancing has been scientifically proven to cause people to lose IQ points, other Western dance steps require some skill -- if only so that you can move quickly enough to avoid being run over by the NASCAR wannabe who's steering his dance partner around the oval more recklessly than Tony Stewart.

If you do consider hitting the dance floor, first stop by the well-stocked bar for my favorite Texas brew, Shiner Bock. With a few of these on board, the Grizzly is a guaranteed good time. Just don't overdo it, because you don't want to leave the bar's gift shop with a new hat. Worse yet, you could become a Brokeback Mountain buckle bunny yourself.

 
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