Cowboy or Club Roxy, Galleria Nightspot Had Quite a Run
Quietly, the Roxy shut its doors several months back after billing itself for years as Houston's "longest-running nightclub." Whether that statement is true or not, an extensive, eclectic history lies within the now-empty space near W. Alabama and Sage Rd.
Photo by Alexa Crenshaw Now only memories: Club Roxy in the foreground, 2014
Personally, I remember the Roxy's teen night, where around age 14 I went with a group of gals, hating everything and being stuck in a crowd so thick I couldn't move. I lost my purple-and-black striped jacket that night, and to this day wish I could somehow find it. If you know where my jacket is...
Never mind. The point is, most Houston kids ended up at the Roxy -- or one of its many other iterations -- at one time or another.
For adults, Roxy was a club with a dress code, a line and sometimes a mob. People got turnt with regularity, or hosted stripping nights, boxing and thong contests. The club kept its own girls calendar throughout most of its tenure.
web.archive.org/ The Roxy's old Web site
The very first business recorded at the 5351 W. Alabama address opened in 1966 as Norge Village Cleaners, a nationwide coin-operated self-service laundromat chain. The nearby Houston Galleria opened in 1970, and the cleaners withstood the area's intense expansion until 1977, when it became a nightclub known as Foxhunter.
Foxhunter was a disco run by the McFaddin-Kendrick conglomerate, otherwise known as McFaddin Ventures. They were rich and owned all the Houston disco places of the era, and ran this club space in particular through several fashion identities.
Although nightlife in the Greater Houston area was still mostly country joints at the time, those in the Inner Loop attempted to be more urban. C&W clubs within the Loop were few until the the late '70s, when Gilley's in neighboring Pasadena became hugely popular. So in place of Foxhunter, Cowboy opened in 1979 as Houston's first upscale two-step saloon.
Cowboy was meant to emulate Gilley's, which already had a national reputation, but the latter club was frequented by prison-rodeogoers and veterans while Cowboy courted Houston's upper-class nightlife. Everyone was wearing Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, which were very "in" back then but now are mostly referred to as "mom jeans."
Besides Gilley's (of course), scenes from Urban Cowboy were filmed at Cowboy as well -- it's the bar where Pam (Madolyn Smith) takes Bud (John Travolta) while trying to steal him away from Sissy (Debra Winger). A January 1982 article in The New York Times' Travel section called Cowboy "a considerably more polished, suburban version of the Western dance club."
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