Hanging At The Hideout: Country Comes To Town At The Rodeo

Photos by Cory Garcia
Not everyone at the rodeo has a merch guy.
This was my first rodeo. Before Friday I had never been to a rodeo let alone the rodeo.

While I might have been there to cover the post-rodeo entertainment, it was also my chance to get the full rodeo experience. Compare me to the food critic excited about Olive Garden coming to town if you must, but I'm not afraid to admit I was pretty stoked. As a fan of fried foods, potential animal-on-man violence, and carnivals the rodeo seemed like it might be my kind of place.

The big surprise was how un-country the entire thing felt. Sure there were guys in belt buckles and cowboy hats, but there were also guys in Hawaiian shirts, wifebeaters and Ed Hardy gear. At times it just felt like a bigger, louder version of the carnivals you see in various mall parking lots across the city.

At least until I entered The Hideout.

John Slaughter at the Hideout, Friday night
Friday afternoon, in a completely different part of the city, a security guard gave me the hard sell on why I should check out The Hideout. He gave me a little bit of history, talked about how they had reached capacity multiple times during this year's rodeo, and the great music I'd get to check out. I'm not a country music fan but his enthusiasm seemed genuine, so I thought I'd give it a chance.

When I think of country music, I think of the county fairs that happen like clockwork every year in the communities that surround my hometown of Victoria. Bands set up in parks or the town square, buying your beer with tickets instead of cash, celebrating the good things in life like having the world's fastest turkey -- country might be John Deere and John Wayne to some people, but not to me.

I'm not saying The Hideout perfectly replicates that small-town feeling, but it is the closest thing to that country spirit I found at the rodeo.

It was the first time I had seen anyone two-step all day. It was the first time I had really seen anyone dance. The crowds for the stadium shows might have been excited and they might have sang along, but there was very little movement.

Even the girls brought onstage specifically to dance didn't seem quite that interested in moving to the music.

Yet here were people excited to have a dance floor. Saturday night, they didn't even wait for the live music to start before they were out dancing.

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