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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Goodnight, Revolver

Today, on June 11, 2016, one day before I ring in my 42nd year aboard this crazy rock, I’ll say goodbye forever to one of the best friends I’ve had in Las Vegas, Revolver Dancehall and Saloon.  I know what you’re thinking – what kind of pathetic bastard counts a country bar as one of his best friends?  Well, if you have to ask, you’ve likely never lived in Vegas.  Friends here are hard to come by.  It’s a town of relentless hustle, where everything is for sale and things are rarely what they appear to be under the neon glow of a Saturday night.  But in this town where the Strip markets the same nightclub under two dozen different names, with endless “VIP Hosts”, slender European DJs with questionable facial hair and an entire ecosystem built just to get in to these clubs, the country bar is as timeless as it is anachronistic.  Revolver was much more than just a country bar, however.  For many of us, we made lifelong friends, lovers and dance partners there.  We laughed, cried, got too drunk and (sometimes) too sober.  We danced through injuries, bad nights and, God help me, a thousand replays of the Cupid Shuffle.  But still we danced.  Revolver is the first bar I’ll close since I closed my very first country bar: the Neon Armadillo, in Orlando, and this parting will be just as much sweet sorrow as that was seventeen years ago.  But, in the best way I know how to say goodbye, here are three things I’ll remember about Revolver: 

1.     Love At First Sight.  On my first visit to Revolver, having lived in the city for less than three months, I entered a line dance contest, jumped on a bar, ripped off my t-shirt and got my “Black Card.”  Back then, I was the only dancer wearing sneakers (Chucks) or with a towel in my back pocket.  The club was packed, and there were biker gang members, cowboys, rednecks and more short shorts and boots than I had seen in any one place before – everybody was cheering and having a great time, and I knew I had found a place to call “home.”  Five years later, the girl I danced with in the finals of that contest is a go-go dancer at a different country bar, there have been four different versions of Stoney’s (hopefully, this one sticks) and there are a whole lot more sneakers and towels in back pockets.  Sure, there have been other dance contests, different DJs and even more crowded nights, but of all my favorite nights at Revolver, there’s never been anything quite like the first one.

2.     Frienemies.  There’s nothing quite like your “home” country bar – as it creates a “family” of sorts.  And like any family, there are people in it that you love more than anything, and a few others you’d like to see wander blindfolded onto the highway.  Revolver gave me some of the best friends I’ve got here, and some of the best people I know: Franklin, Steph, Kaz, RC, Lara, Kristina, Nicco, Jason, Lauren, Theresa, Jacquie, Tavis, Jason, D’Awna, Dawn, Eric, Jared, LIZ, Nicole, Liberty, Shana, Shawna, Tony, Michael, Dayman and so, so many more.  I can’t imagine living here without friends like these.  But like any good hero, I also needed a nemesis, and I found mine wearing a schmedium shirt, demanding to be paid by the bar manager for doing the same three ice-skating stunts over & over and declaring himself the “King of Line Dancing” in Las Vegas.  Like it or not, that got me to give my very best on that little dance floor night after night and even in training and injury rehab – and for that, I’m just as grateful.  Oh, and even on the last night, like I’ve always said, I don’t know who the King is, but I know who it isn’t.

3.     Dance Like Everyone’s Watching.  There are a lot of different kinds of “great” country bars.  There are great places to drink, great places to pick up a date and great places to meet with friends.  And while Revolver was certainly all of these things, what is was most was a great place to dance.  The floor was small but perfect, easy to get on and off, and small enough to keep people who don’t know how to dance where they belong – in their seats.  You can see the floor from anyplace in the club, and the DJ’s?  Well, in addition to being some of my best friends, they are some of the best country programmers I’ve ever heard.  We line danced to songs we never thought we’d hear in a country bar, and only had to suffer through thirty minutes (or so) of dancing-for-idiots (i.e. “freestyle”) music, each night.  We once danced the same dance (Swamp Thing) for over a half an hour (thanks, Franklin), and had a floor where we were allowed to throw whatever stunts we wanted, without bouncer warnings.  Drinks were relentlessly kept off the floor, and drunks and idiots were always ushered away quickly.  I can’t think of more than one fight in all five years, and I have memories of hundreds of great nights, where I got home too tired to anything but peel off my sweaty clothes and get into bed.  Revolver was a dancer’s bar, and that’s what I’ll miss most about it. 

As author C. Joybell C. said “Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don't really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending; some things are never-ending.”  The last night at Revolver isn’t a bad thing, though many tears will certainly be shed.  And it also isn’t an ending – because in the end, Revolver wasn’t really a country bar, it was the people who worked there, danced there and spent part of their lives, there.  It was the joys, the heartbreaks, the spotlights and the dark corners.  It was country, it was Las Vegas and it was way too far north.  It was in a casino that most of us will never walk into again, and I can’t imagine it anywhere else.  It was small, but it was huge.  It was New Years, birthdays, Ladies Night and going away parties.  It was loud.  It was good, and now it’s gone… but what it will never, ever be, is forgotten. 

Thanks, Revolver – it’s been one hell of a ride.


Kristina said...

Awesome, so true and I totally teared up.

yomamakirt said...

There is something in my eye

Heather R. said...

Awww, the memories! Thanks for bringing up Deanna and Mateo, you are right about him being the King of line dancing and I was always so happy to watch them dance and watch the ' love story' set to music. It was magic! I'll miss the king and his gorgeous swan as they captured the entire clubs gaze and I'll miss you too.. you were so entertaining, like a character from an 80's movie dancing around and keeping the vibe moving... that rag too, it thought you were going just off work from a car wash or something, you were a hoot! Best of luck to you! Good bye Revolver.

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