Standing in line while intently watching the instructor, my two young cowboys seemed to have completely forgotten to be mortified by being forced to dance in public with their mother. I had come to Billy Bob’s weekly line dance class prepared to have to offer a bribe to get my kids out on the floor, but once Brooks and Dunn started blaring over the loud speaker, they were eager to join me and the other hundred people for the class.
Getting them to try out line dancing wasn’t my only worry. I was also worried that it wasn’t really appropriate to bring children to a bar ever. I had heard that Billy Bob’s was very family friendly, but that just didn’t seem to jive with the picture of the “World’s Largest Honky Tonk” I had in my head. It turned out that that it wasn’t only family friendly, it seemed like it was the place to be for parents and kids. Before the lessons began, some kids racked up points on the arcade games while other families were seen enjoying a friendly game of pool. BBQ and other meals were available in the eatery, with kids’ meals on the menu, and families grabbing a bite together. The atmosphere was a bit like Chuck E Cheese, if Chuck E was less annoying and wore cowboy boots.
At 7:00, all attention turned to the wooden dance floor, as Wendell Nelson turned on his mic (and his dry sense of humor) and started the lesson. His affable manner and the ease with which he broke down the steps drew in people to the dance floor until it was filled to capacity. Step by step, students of every age and coordination level learned the dance of the evening until it was a pretty polished looking group. The music played loud enough that we couldn’t really talk, but I caught a glimpse of my boys out of the corner of my eye and beamed at the look of enjoyment on their faces.
When the final twangy note played, the dance floor dispersed with laughter and smiles. Kids ran off to for more games or to grab another couple of bites. With the kids occupied for a few minutes, many of the parents sat back and enjoyed the live band that began to play. My own two rushed up, sweaty faced and proud, and we swapped dancing stories for a few minutes. Then, I reached into my purse and filled their hands with quarters, and they rushed off to enjoy the games with the other kids.It turned out that they didn’t need a bribe at all, but I’m betting that a handful of quarters and the fun they had on the dance floor will be enough to convince them to come back next week.
Line Dancing lessons are offered at Billy Bob's Texas in the Stockyards National Historic District every Thursday from 7-8 pm. Entrance is $2 for adults and free for kids 11 and under. Children must be accompanied by an adult, but they are absolutely welcome.