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Learning to Do-Si-Do at Coyote Joe’s

Aerin gets down with the boot-scootin’ boogie-ers of Charlotte

Back in time, gun violence, post pandemic social scene, Optimist Hall, Waffle House
Aerin Spruill

“Dancing tonight? I’m (100 emoji) going with a couple of girls. Feel free to join! 7:15-9:15.” Insert the “It was at this moment, she knew she fucked up” sound effect and you have my reaction to that particular Hump Day text.

For weeks, I’d been talking up the possibility of getting footloose and fancy-free at Coyote Joe’s for Ladies’ Night line-dancing lessons with my girlfriend and maybe twice quasi-bailed due to poor planning. There was no backing out this time.

Now y’all know I’m down to be the Queen City’s melanated guinea pig, but we all know this Black girl’s feet are better built for the “heel toe” than a do-si-do. (If you don’t know what that means, watch this video, no time for culture-’splaining.) And yet, here I was, looking for the perfect fit knowing good and damn well I’d most likely be sitting this one out.

In the four years since my last visit to Coyote Joe’s, AKA the Cracker Barrel of Charlotte music venues, I’ve racked up four pairs of cowboy boots, the latest being the official ones of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders — “We dem boys!” But those boots ain’t made for walking, let alone dancing. Instead, I donned a black pair with a graphic depicting a white skeleton taking a selfie appropriately named “Yippee Ki Yay.” Now that’s what I call new boot goofin’.

From the looks of the packed parking lot, you would’ve thought there was going to be a full-fledged country music show featuring a big-name headliner. And while the “BEST house band in the country,” Out of the Blue, seemed to be celebrating a milestone of some sorts, it was clear as soon as I walked in that the main event was the rug-cuttin’.

On Wednesday nights, the sprawling space, copious amounts of neon signs, a center-stage American flag, and countless taxidermied animals take a back seat to, by my best guess, around 100 pairs of booty shorts and cowboy boots moving in tandem around the outskirts of the dance floor. My eyes couldn’t believe the country music wet dream this visual conjured for the boot-scootin’ boogie-ers of Charlotte.

If the sweat-stained pits, shvitz-y staches, and clammy hugs weren’t enough of a deterrent, the intricacy of the footwork alone would’ve been enough to keep this rookie on the sidelines for her first line-dancing rendezvous. After all, I may have been dressed for a hoe down but after a long day of work, all this baby girl wanted was a hoe bath.

Thankfully, I was saved by “How’d we dooo?!” (I think that’s what was being said anyways) as everyone clapped celebrating the conclusion of that particular sequence of steps. The sea of line dancers slowly parted and all eyes were on Mitchell Mullis, the head line dancer in charge, according to the website. Decked out in a red polo, dark blue jeans, black boots, cowboy hat, and a mic, it was clear that Mitch (may I call you Mitch?) wasn’t there to play games.

His swift demo rivaled a spring chicken and once he was done, all the chicks got in line. Mullis made it look deceptively easy AF, breaking down each step and helping dancers put a dance together piece by piece before speeding everything up. Somehow everyone came out the other end looking like a semi-pro line-dance troop ready to perform the routine full out.

After two line-dance lessons for singles and one for couples (or so I was told, y’all know I showed up on BP time!), the lessons ended and the house band began. At this point, free bull rides for the ladies began but beware, the fellas may just beat you to warming up the seat.

As I watched one of my girlfriends — who’d already shown out on the dance floor sprinkling each routine with a personal flair — ride the bull as if she were built for the PBR circuit, I sat humbled and oddly excited by the realization that every line dancer isn’t created the same. The icing on the cake? I learned she was once a legit professional dancer.

So first and foremost, if the thought of hitting an eight-count in front of other people sounds like your worst nightmare, don’t go with a pro. But know, you won’t be the only one making a blunder and honestly, the missteps are more entertaining to watch than the calculated two-steps.

Also, don’t forget to snag some cash lest you just enjoy paying ATM fees; Coyote Joe’s is a cash-only establishment. And last but not least, leave your inhibitions at the door. Because let me tell you, everyone else will.

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