Fifty-four University of Dallas students, including me, participated in the first Dallas Year event of the semester this past Saturday evening. Students were taken by bus to the Fort Worth Stockyards and Billy Bob’s Texas. It was an evening of shopping, dining and two-stepping the night away to live music by Dwight Yoakam.
Before the Dwight Yoakam concert began, everyone had the chance to explore the Fort Worth Stockyards; the former cattle grounds have been transformed into an array of Western-themed bars, shops and restaurants. My group of friends began the night with a visit to the Cowtown Coliseum, home of the Stockyards Championship Rodeo. We made it in time to cheer on the professional riders as they attempted to stay on the backs of bucking broncos for eight seconds. Considering my only experience in such endeavors involves a mechanical bull at my high school’s graduation party, I have quite a lot of respect for the riders who were able to keep from being thrown. After the rodeo, we perused the streets of Fort Worth before heading to our primary destination for the evening: Billy Bob’s.
At 107,000 square feet, Billy Bob’s boasts the title of the world’s largest honky-tonk. Since 1981, the club has hosted some of the nation’s most popular country artists, including Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and George Strait. Many of the performers have permanently left their mark on the dance hall, leaving handprints imprinted in cement for patrons to admire. Students had a wide variety of entertainment choices even inside Billy Bob’s: The club includes a full restaurant and bar, a gift shop, numerous pool tables, a concert hall, a dance floor with a saddle-shaped disco ball, and even a live rodeo show.
Freshman Mary Hilker enjoyed watching the bull riders at the rodeo show most of all. “It was a thrilling, muddy experience,” she says. Not only were the bulls intent on bucking their riders before the desired eight seconds, but they also kicked mud at the spectators and stubbornly refused to reenter their pins. I spent most of my time at Billy Bob’s line-dancing and two-stepping.
Regarding dancing, freshman Alex Doucet remarked, “It was crowded, but it was so very exciting to take what I learned from Swing Club and apply it to the Texas two-step.”
Dwight Yoakam’s concert then began at 10:30 p.m. Yoakam performed for nearly two hours, playing both covers of old country favorites and his own songs. Satisfied with an evening full of good music and energetic dancing, students boarded the bus at 12:30 a.m. to head back to campus (although in my case, we finished off the night with a delicious all-American fourth meal at IHOP).
Reactions to the event were overall very positive. While the huge crowds at Billy Bob’s can make it difficult to get around and to hear people, the dance hall has a very high-energy environment that anyone with a flair for all things country will appreciate. I know many students agree with me when I say I will definitely be returning to Billy Bob’s during my time at UD.