October 19th, 2010
Rebels Honky Tonk: Eight Seconds of Infamy
In 4 Words: Two-Steppin', Bull-Ridin', Beer-Drinkin', Belt-Bucklin'
Where can I find some boots? You’re crazy if you think I’m going to buy some just for one night. Size 11ish, please. Preferably brown in tone. Snakeskin would be perfect. Can you help me out?
A few days before a party that was going to take me to Rebels Honky Tonk, the heart of hickville with a Washington Avenue twist, I was desperately searching for the appropriate camouflage to fit in. In my haste, I failed to realize that true camouflage might be the ticket. The nuances of Texas culture escape even those seasoned with ten plus years of Loopster living.
I’m not quite sure why the outfit was so important. Borrowing a belt buckle and boots seemed to be of the utmost significance. I wasn’t worried about the pearlsnap shirt. We pseudo-hipsters have plenty of those in our repertoire. The love of Lone Star is along the same lines. I had that covered. But them there dang boots and buckle? I was busier than a cat trying to clean shit on a marble floor tryin’ a find ‘em.
I gave up the hunt the day before the party. No matter how many calf-roping championship belt buckles I borrow, you aren’t going to mistake me for a cowboy.
The birthday party for this Saturday night consists of two parts: Pre-drinking at the house and then carpooling to Rebels. By the time the Lexus that chauffeurs me to the private lot in front of the Honky Tonk pulls into the last space available, I’m not aware of how important those first few beers consumed at the townhouse will be.
The two ladies leading me into the bar get carded at the door. The bouncer feels no need to ask for my ID. Perhaps that’s because they subscribe to the 66% rule (which is widely known and regarded), but it’s probably because I look a lot older than I would like to admit. When your dad makes fun of you for the abundance of gray hairs sprouting from your temples, you know the salt and pepper days are quickly approaching. In my case it’s more of a “salt-and-vanilla” scenario, but let’s just call a spade a subscription to Just for Men.
We walk into a Brooks and Dunn wonderland. The first song that I recognize (and let me tell you, that list will be short tonight) is “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by the country western duo. When they implore you to git down and turn around how can you not? It’s not like I hate country music. It’s just that after a few hours of exposure, every song tends to sound the same. Yes, I’m aware that folks that listen to The Q probably say the same thing about the albums that I have on high rotation.
It isn’t too long before I’m grabbing a partner to dosido on the dance floor. I remember the first time that someone tried to teach me how to two-step, stumbling my way around a dirty, cramped fraternity house floor, the walls falling down all around me. There hasn’t been too much progress since that freshman fall night. Every couple of minutes I lose my count or rhythm (assuming I had any to begin with) and find a few toes under my foot. I look to my partner and say, “try to keep up, alright” in an attempt to play off my own shortcomings.
But like all good things, my sliding around the dance floor must come to an end. Not because I’m tired or the party is leaving, but the DJ has made the transition to the Cupid Shuffle. Spend enough nights out or attend enough weddings and you’ll be tired of our generation’s Electric Slide – even if your generation’s Electric Slide is the Electric Slide. There must always be opportunities to make a pit stop for more beer and I take full advantage of this one, working my way through the crowd to the tiny patio that is on the side of Rebels.
There is a bar serving beer and some cocktails outside, a haven for the smoker that I’m trying to deny tonight. Still, there is no line out here and the bartender serves me quickly when I order a Lone Star. She asks for five dollars.
“Every beer is five dollars. Even the Shiner,” she tells me.
“I wouldn’t pay one dollar for a Shiner let alone five!”
“Where are you from?”
“Not here,” I say, “why?”
“Because you don’t like Shiner. I can tell you’re not from Texas,” she says, almost in a huff.
I must have missed this on my Texas Citizenship Test. All Texans love Shiner? Granted, my first beer was a Shiner Bock, but really? I demand a recount. I concede that Spoetzl Brewery has its fans. You can’t tell me that includes every remembering the Alamo red-blood.
Luckily, my friend distracts me from demanding the bartender call Gallup by tapping me on the shoulder. He points to the corner of the patio. I had heard rumors of a mechanical bull, but only now believe it. Of course, there is a lady perched on top surrounded by a throng of men waiting for something, anything at all, to pop out, slip or jiggle. Sometimes I love being a man, but usually, during occasions like these, I’m most ashamed of our gender.
Rebels might only be enjoyable for eight seconds at a time if you’re not open to being absorbed by the experience. Looking back at my mock excitement to find a pair of boots to fit in with the crowd reveals that I was actually looking forward to something new. Walking back into the bar to yet another Brooks and Dunn classic, “My Maria“, I realize I’m not too far removed from being a big fan of Rebels. Sure, I’ll scoff when someone suggests that’s where we go on a Saturday night, but only because that’s what the person inviting me expects me to do.
Now, where do I find another lass willing to have her toes subjected to punishment by my errant two-stepping?
Where – 5002 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007 (View Map)
When – Wednesday through Saturday from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
What – Two-Steppin’ and Bull-Ridin’
How much – $5.00 Beers… Yeah, All of ‘Em
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