Pop star Gabrielle wasn’t full of it; dreams can come true. The Back Street Boys are in the country music chart (possibly due to me successfully blowing out 16 candles all in one go back in ’96). Jack Daniels have released a whiskey infused cider (I suspect their target market report simply said “Judi from Brits in Boots”). And now there’s loud whispering of a permanent country music bar coming to central London (shhhh, don’t jinx it).
That’s what last Saturday night was about. Under Vauxhall’s railway arches I went 22 seconds on a mechanical bull which may or may not have been named Fu Manchu.
This was at the inaugural Southern Saturdays event; a pre-party by the bods behind the planned Buck ‘N’ Bull Saloon. While they search for the perfect city location for a honky-tonk hub of all things country, they set out to give us a taste of things to come. But did this whet my appetite for more?
It’s tough. The British weather got the memo and decided to mimic a stifling Tennessee summer. This meant the first part of the evening – outside in the garden with mechanical bull and log cabin style seating areas, but lacking the promised southern style BBQ I’d arrived desperate for – was brilliant relaxed mingling and gave the event its USP.
The second part – inside a sweatbox with frustrating staff, limited beer choices and melting faces – robbed me of my stamina… even when favourite country DJ Baylen Leonard played Mama’s Broken Heart. I was home by midnight.
There’s a chance (a very big chance) that my lack of energy was not just because of the weather and the length of the event (6pm-2am), but was in fact my own fault. I had wanted to try absolutely everything on what was a really packed schedule. I needed to decide whether this was to be a gig, a rave or a funfair. Instead I rushed, childlike, from bull ride to line dance class, to burger stand queue where an inexplicably angry lady had developed the world’s least efficient way of serving people burgers, then I’d hurried inside to catch some of the hour long set by charming duo Two Ways Home. All while drinking in the sun.
But that made me realise how much I do need the promised permanent country bar. Perhaps if I knew I’d be able to come out to something like this anytime I fancied I’d be less like a toddler let loose in an ice-cream parlour and insisting on all the toppings right now. After all, all of the Southern Saturdays’ elements were perfectly pitched, their own team were great and any teething problems were clearly down to the hired venue or Mother Nature.
So I look forward to a low key bar when, if I’m not in the mood to dance, I can sit with a beer, soaking up country sounds, without the FOMO pressure that this might be a one-time thing. And I look forward to the team who’ve dreamt this up finally having their own premises with staff as friendly as the country crowd were on Saturday. And with aircon.
Until then, Southern Saturdays looks set to return in August (info and tickets here) . You can see video clips of the event on our instagram feed and I promise to tweet like crazy when the bar happens. Expect many emojis of joy.
Were you at Southern Saturday’s too? Please comment to share what you thought of the night.