Bay Area Honky Tonks

Out of the city, into the wild
At the Bay Area's enduring honky-tonks, the young'uns are restless.
By Karen Solomon

Before the interstates and subdivisions arrived, the Bay Area was mostly farmland. Still is in places, so maybe it's no surprise that just beyond the city limits of San Francisco and Oakland, the country-western dance scene trives as never before. Although the Saddle Rack in Fremont is the size of an airplane hangar, it's packed on Saturday nights. As the dance floor fills up, boot-scooters take to the bar tops and wild-eyed women gyrate on a heaving mechanical bull. Their dates recline in the notorious margarita-shot chair, guzzling tequila straight from the barkeep's bottle. The farmland may have disappeared, but the sallon spirit lives on.

The Saddle Rack
11:50 p.m.

THE GEAR: Jeans, boots, and buckles. Guys gavor T-shirts emblazoned with "Cassive Mock" and the like.

THE SOUND: House band Appaloosa has 'em crying in their beers or stomping across the floor. Lead singer Jewels Hanson is a self-proclaimed "Travis with tits."

THE POUR: Order an appletini and you won't make it to the exit. It's Bud, maybe Coors. Maybe.

FIRST STEPS: Boot clomping in line is darned tricky. Newbies get lessons Wednesdays through Fridays.

DON'T CHOKE: At the new oxygen bar, patrons huff pumpkin spice and watermelon scented air. Yep, it's still the Bay Area.

42011 Boscell Rd., Fremont, 510-979-0477.

The cowgirls at Club Rodeo were sporting Daisy Dukes long before country was cool. 610 Coleman Ave., San Jose, 408-920-0145.

Veterans of the scene line dance at Cactus Corners, held twice a month at Grange hall. 742 Diablo Rd., Danville, 925-846-8192.

Castro boys and grrrls are dead serious about their line moves at the Sundance Saloon on Sundays. 550 Barneveld Ave., S.F., 415-820-1403.