Line-Dancing at Woody's

A young black liberal overcomes hick hatred with good old-fashioned two-step.

By Gerry Christopher Johnson
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Apr. 21, 2010

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As far as I can tell, country music—with deodorant-less rednecks and antebellum angst—is only a jar of moonshine away from a KKK rally. As a young black liberal, there’s just no way I could ever relate to deifying Robert E. Lee or worse— wearing Route 66 jeans.

That is, until Brokeback Mountain. Absorbing the tale of forbidden love kept alive only by hope and saliva-lubricated anal sex, I could only imagine what those two lonely cowboys were going through. It dawned on me: Hicks are humans too. What could their cattle-driving, ranch-residing experiences teach me about life, love and getting my back broke?

I decided to find out at Country Line Dancing and Two-Stepping Night at Woody’s.

Donning the only “come hither, cowboy” ensemble I could find in my closet—a bright plaid H&M shirt that I convinced myself was flannel, and Express jeans that I pretended were Levi’s—I entered Woody’s prepared to git ’er done. Line-dancing lessons were in full swing upstairs, but first I needed to find some courage—and a partner—at the bar.

“What would Jake Gyllenhaal do if he were without a partner at a saloon?” I wondered to myself. Order whiskey and solicit sex, of course. I stood against the wall with my stiff drink and my stiffer jeans, waiting for a good ole boy to lasso me for the night.

After attracting weirdos and winos, I finally found a drunken fag hag, whose slurred words of encouragement inspired me to face my fears.

When I got upstairs, I saw a man on the dance floor leading a group of six through a lesson on two-stepping. I found the combination of shuffles, pivots, thrusts and spins mesmerizing but intimidating. I wasn’t ready to join them yet.

Fear handcuffed me for the next several songs. Before I knew it, the instructions were over and it was every hillbilly for themselves.

I approached the instructor and admitted my predicament. To my surprise, he kindly agreed to give me private lessons in the corner.

“Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m black,” I revealed, running my finger down the caramel skin of my arm like Vanna White.

“I can see that,” he laughed. “One of our best dancers, Norma, is black.”

I was skeptical, but I needed help. My private lessons commenced.

“Shuffle, shuffle, step, step,” he called out, my hands holding on to his body for dear life. “See, you’ve got it already.”

Afterward, I strutted to the bar with my newfound confidence. “You looked really good out there,” an Indian twenty-something with a thick accent lied in my ear. “Would you like to dance?”

“Sure,” I said. We took to the stage, shuffling around clumsily to some Elvis ditty. I learned he was fresh off the plane from Mumbai and also new to line dancing.

“Do you think my tractor’s sexy?” I inquired after he twirled me around.

“What?” he asked, unaware of either Kenny Chesney or the hotness of my Caterpillar. Alas, the cultural barrier was even more awkward than our line dancing. It could never work.

A while later, I was offered additional instruction by a creepy man who looked like he’d wear a harness with no pants, just for the leather.

Then another tall gentleman asked to give me a whirl. And then another.

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4
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1. Norma said... on Apr 24, 2010 at 01:06PM

“I love the ending!:-) Thank you so much for putting the word out there a little, now we gotta BLAST people with the country western revolution!”

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2. Melissa K. said... on Apr 24, 2010 at 03:29PM

“While I'm glad to see Country night at Woody's getting some more attention...I feel the need to comment on the inaccuracies in this article. For starters, to call the attendees "hicks" and "hillbillies" Is rather insulting and completely untrue. Most of the people that go to country night are upstanding professionals in the community with no ties to confederate culture or ideals. They are the same people you find at black tie fundraisers, Equality Forum symposiums, and other non-country establishments. They come to country because it is a friendly environment (not slutty when you think about the other gay bars and after hours clubs in the area), and they love the opportunity to dance formally with a partner of the same sex. Where else can a gay man go to waltz with the man he loves? I think you missed the point. I'm glad you had a good time but I hope when you come again you could see what this night means to the people who have been coming for so long.”

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3. Caleb said... on May 7, 2010 at 05:19PM

“Also, a quick bit of research would show of a chain of gay country bars called Charlie's with locations in Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, and Las Vegas. They each have lessons about 3 times a week.”

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4. David said... on Dec 20, 2010 at 07:25AM

“I am saddened by your lack of culture and racist view of country line dancers… i’m almost as saddened by your views as i am your willingness to share them so publicly. It is my hope that your evening has taught you if nothing else to expand your horizons beyond the electric slide!
Your truly,
A black Country Line Dancer, Ballroom dancer, Latin dancer, Modern dancer, African dancer…ect!


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