In a city that has longed to become more like Hollywood than the cow-town it started off as, it was no surprise that for a long period of time it was easier to find an all-night Italian rock bar that served rare sushi than it was to find a place where wearing a cowboy hat was acceptable.
But after spending the last 80 or so years getting away from Vegas' roots, the city has made being country cool again thanks to the sprouting of several country barbeque joints. That meant there couldn't have been a better time to revive an old Vegas favorite in Gilley's Saloon, Dance Hall and Bar-B-Q.
The once proud staple at the New Frontier has made a comeback thanks to TI owner Phil Ruffin, who opened the original location in 1999 and since taking ownership of TI has longed to reopen it. His passion for the saloon didn't just come from his heart, but from his wallet too. He paid the franchise fees yearly, despite not having a location for almost three years.
Now visitors to Las Vegas (whether they have a cowboy hat or not) can walk right off the Strip into an authentic country-style saloon complete with parquet dance floor, saddle bar stools and four statues of the iconic Jack Daniels himself.
And for those looking to take the country lifestyle one step further, you can try your luck at riding the mechanical bull. The bull is operated by a longtime professional mechanical bull operator (we didn't know there was such a profession) and has an inflatable ring around it for your safety and a waiver for you to sign for Gilley's safety.
But you don't have to have calluses on your hands and a wad of chew in your lip to get on this bull. On Thursday and Sunday nights all you need is a bikini. The bikini bull riding competition often attracts about 20 competitors and, of course, a throng of male onlookers.
Much of the music played at Gilley's is, of course, country with a bit of rock mixed in, but some Top 40 is played sometimes depending on the crowd. So that means you should probably brush up on your two-step. But if you don't know how to line dance, come a little early on Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday and get lessons from a professional instructor.
Live bands play every Friday and Saturday night as well.
If you're just looking for a quick drink, or at least something to take with you, we suggest grabbing one of the boot souvenir cups, which are nearly 40 ounces. A beer will cost you $14 and margaritas go for $16. Refills are just $9.
With such low prices on drinks, the boot cups are an ideal piece of memorabilia. You may be tempted to grab one of those statues of Jack Daniels, but that could cost you more than just a handful of money.
-- Review by Justin Lawson
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