Posted On: 05/01/2006
My appreciation of country music peaked in 1977 when Big and Little Enos offered the Bandit $80,000 to bootleg a truckload of Coors across county lines in less than 28 hours. Jerry Reed sang it right: “We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there. I’m eastbound, just watch ol’ Bandit run.”
Today, I could do without Reed and his musical ilk. Not for lack of respect. Country music just isn’t my thing. Nonetheless, when the STL country-western bar came up as a St. Louis Scene topic, I ran eastbound multiple occasions in a short time. Something different.
Nearly all my fish-out-of-water shocks took place before I even got inside
Wild Country. Shock 1: The exterior is the epitome of garish. The black-and-white striped façade evokes defunct department store Venture. Shock 2: Weekend crowds are beyond huge, with long entry lines. Shock 3: It is very hard to sneak weapons in. The intimidating bouncers demand you empty your pockets before giving you the once-over with a metal-detecting wand. Welcome to Wild Country.
Still, nearly all my shock subsided the minute I set foot inside. I’ve been to places like this – dance hangars. Rick Idol’s Stages in the early ’90s. Club La Vela in Panama City Beach, Fla., in the mid ’90s.
On all sides of Wild Country’s 3,000-square-foot dance floor (and above) are the band stage, neon NASCAR signs, mini-Harleys, multiple bars, pool tables and gawking, cowardly, I-can’t-dance masses (i.e., me). Music, 99 percent country, comes both live and DJed.
If you’re over 25, skip Wild Country on Fridays, when nights are dominated by the very young (it’s an 18+ club) and a late-night thong contest. Rest assured the old Dave Chappelle skit holds: “Them girls was going off! I was disgusted but couldn’t
Wednesdays, Thursdays and early Saturdays are more adult. Until 11 p.m., the average age hovers in the 50s, then drops. Females slightly outnumber the males. For both sexes, jeans are a must, cowboy hats a plus and sheriff’s badges a mark of style. Finally, and this is neither warning nor criticism, just fact: It’s all white folks.
Drinks are very cheap, with multiple specials. All food, ordered and picked up fast-food style, is cheap and greasy.
Wednesdays and Thursdays offer dance lessons, and if you are genuinely going to enjoy Wild Country, dancing is a must. Watching 200 people pirouette, kick and shimmy in total sync is completely mesmerizing, even for spectators. For instance, on a recent Thursday, I was completely struck by a beautiful brunette. Her kicks were higher, spins tighter and stomps more crisp than the others. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, so when she rested at a side table, I noticed Shock 4: She put a huge wad of chewing tobacco in her lip and began spitting into a plastic cup. This doesn’t mean most or many or even a few girls at Wild Country chew tobacco, just that a pretty girl has that option.
The straight 411 …
For huge crowds and mesmerizing country line dancing, head to Wild Country.
OK, it’s confession time: I am a country girl at heart. I was born and raised in a small farm town where there were no stoplights and a lot of cows, corn and cowboys. No matter how long I grow my hair, as David Allen Coe says, it just can’t cover up my red neck. So when I paid a visit to Wild Country in Collinsville – after I got frisked twice, was robbed of my Swiss Army knife and paid the cover – I was back home again.
The great thing about Wild Country is the music. The joint’s ability to go from “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks to the “Rump Shaker” by Wreckz-N-Effect shows true skill by the DJ and a real effort to provide the crowd with what it wants to hear.
But country has changed a little since I was a young cowgirl. It has changed with the culture, and that is truly apparent in the new song by Trace Adkins. I almost dropped my beer when I heard “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” start to play. I was so curious I looked the song up on iTunes and, sure enough, a video came up that could have been mistaken for 50 Cent were it not for the good ol’ boy in a shiny belt buckle and tight Wranglers belting out the tune.
Another thing people come to Wild Country for is the dancing. It is mesmerizing to see the sea of people in a trance-like state gliding on the immense wooden dance floor, which is overshadowed by the biggest disco ball on earth. But don’t be put off by the seasoned dancers. If you want to try your hand at line dancing, you can join the crowd and get the hang of it while you watch the throng of experienced boot-scooters maneuver their Tony Lamas.
If you are looking for 15 minutes of fame, head to Wild Country on Thursday nights, for the taping of a show that airs on KMOV Channel 4 on Saturday nights. It was apparent when the cameras where getting ready to start taping because twice as many people grabbed their shiny hats, hit the floor and showed their pearly whites than had 30 minutes prior to taping.
Never roped a steer, danced the Tush Push or donned a 10-gallon hat? Fear not. Many of the people at Wild Country are non-countrians. Wild Country also offers pool tables, dart boards and a café for some greasy grub if you aren’t looking to shake your countrified groove thing. And ladies, there is definitely a little wisdom in the song by Big & Rich, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).” The boys at Wild Country look GOOD in their tight jeans, pressed dress shirts and cowboy hats.
Wild Country may not be for everyone, but this place is sure to shake up your nightlife and give you a change of scenery. So grab your girlfriends, throw on a pair of tight jeans and get ready to rope yourself a cowboy.
The straight 411 ...
For good music, good ol’ boys and good times, head to Wild Country to shake your Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.
Want to comment on this article? Login or sign up on Sauce.