November 29, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Madrid, Spain, Traditions, Video

Before last week, I’d had two country line dancing memories: learning it during PE in high school (seriously), and then one very bored night in college. Little did I know that my third stab at shakin’ it western-style would be the most memorable and awesome line-dancing experience ever.

And that it would be in Spain.

And guess what? There’s a video.

Brace yourselves, people, this is going to be good. So, so painfully good.

A few months ago I discovered a country western festival taking place near Madrid – a discovery akin to gold, calorie-less chocolate and a winning lottery ticket. I went by myself and witnessed one of the most jaw-dropping experiences I’ve had in Spain to date, but having witnessed it alone, I felt a bit robbed. I would need to return with others to both verify and revel in its legendary-ness.

Good thing my friend Michella is all about country and all about America (and baking cupcakes, and decking out her entire house every time a holiday comes around – LOVE this girl). So when her birthday rolled around, her only request was that a group of us chicas from the US go line dancing.

So we did.

About 20 minutes north of Madrid, in dark fields at the end of a sketchy pot-holed road, is El Encuentro – scene of my original discovery a few months back. We arrived for what they claimed would be an “authentic American dinner.” We also arrived in a mix of flannel t-shirts, jean skirts, cowboy-ish boots and new names: Peggy Sue, Sara Beth, Marge and Lu Lu May (that’s me!). Go big or go home – am I right?

But you know who went big? Like, really big? The Spaniards. Cowboy hats, belt buckles, boots and button-up shirts emblazoned with “Wrangler” and “Rodeo Champion.” They brought their whole families, and also a whole lot of cowboy spirit.

Seated below a giant American flag (obviously), we selected our orders from the extensive menu: the Grand Canyon nachos, a round of random burgers, and a couple of Coors. OK, so the burger tasted more like meatloaf than burger, but hey, still American, right?

Then the line dancing began. And hot dog, these Spaniards knew their stuff. The four of us girls just stared and giggled in amazement – part impressed, part confused, and mostly just embarrassed that these guys pulled off American way better than we ever could. But we weren’t going to let that stop us. At the sound of Achy Breaky Heart, we skedaddled onto the dance floor to demonstrate our electric-slide skills (which I do have, believe it or not).

As the dancing wound down, one of the owners stopped by our table to say hello. We told him it was Michella’s birthday and about five minutes later they brought out a surprise birthday brownie while the entire farmhouse sang “happy birthday” in English. No joke. This was followed by us taking pictures with Spaniards like we were an attraction at Disneyland. Who’s this guy? Who knows. Who cares. (And yes, that’s a tipi in the top left.)

We eventually realized that all good things must come to an end and that it was time to call a cab – that is, see if a cab would actually journey out to the countryside to get us. Before we found that out, though, José the bartender had offered us a ride home. Stupid? Potentially. But really, who were we to stop such a historic night from taking its natural course.

As the three of us piled into the backseat, my man José turned on the ignition, and the car filled with the familiar beats of 50 Cent. Marveling at the dreamcatcher hanging from the rearview mirror of his VW golf, it became ultra clear to me that this night was one for the record books.

Back in Madrid’s Plaza Castilla, we parted ways – Marge and Peg mosied on home, while Michella – make that, Sara Beth – and I vowed to keep the night going strong. With that, we met up with her other friends at one of Madrid’s most popular bars, where people would inevitably stare at us and our ultra-American getups.

Having had a few drinks, I didn’t even realize the irony of the bar in Madrid that we ended up at that night. It’s called – of all things – Honky Tonk.

*It might be worth repeating from my previous blog – the Spaniards unfortunately don’t quite seem to grasp the meaning of a certain flag.


12 Responses to “I went country line dancing. In Spain.”

  1. cristina Says:

    Sounds like you had a great time!!!
    you should give the name of the place and get a commision!!

  2. Melinda Says:

    Perfect! They are really good too!! Such fun. Small notes, guess instead of guest, and American diner I believe is what you meant. Small edits to a fab story!
    Love, Melinda

  3. Erin Says:

    Yes it’s “guess”! Funny how you can so easily miss such silly errors when reading your own writing! As for “dinner”, I indeed meant “dinner” – that’s what they promised…it’s not exactly what we got, but close enough!

  4. Rachel Says:

    As a Texan living in Spain I’m incredibly excited about this place. What’s it called? Although I’m not sure I’m brave enough to show my face since I’d need a lesson for any dance beyond a basic Texas two-step. You don’t happen to know a place in Spain where they sell cowboy hats and boots, do you? Maybe I’d have the confidence to go if I at least looked the part!

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    Loooove it! Is that you in the video??

  6. Erin Says:

    @Andi – heck no! I wouldn’t dare be caught dead trying to country dance (because I’m horrible at it). I’ll let the Spaniards take care of that ;).
    @Rachel – It’s called El Encuentro (or maybe it too is called Honky Tonk??), but it’s a bit hard to find. I’ve just added the link into the post above :). When I went to their “country western festival” a few months ago they actually sold hats, boots, belt buckles – the whole nine yards – so I guess the next time one rolls around, you can hit them up!

  7. zamarriego Says:

    “the Spaniards unfortunately don’t quite seem to grasp the meaning of a certain flag.”

    I suppose that you talk about Dixie, the flag of the Confederation, the flag of General Lee and the knights of the South. A symbol that is looked much like the old Spanish flag, both represent the cross of saint Andrews, like the flags of the states of Florida and Alabama
    The racist connotations that are attributed to this flag, leave from the fights by the civil rights in the years 60´s

    Wonderful blog, greetings a Spaniard…

  8. Lauren of Spanish Sabores Says:

    This is quite hilarious to imagine (I find line dancing in any country funny) and I love that the bartender was bumpin some 50 cent…!

  9. Sabrina Says:

    How awesome is this?! I am starting to get the feeling that I am missing out by staying away from the country-discos in town 🙂 And I still haven’t even bought myself a decent pair of boots either. Looks like you had a blast!

  10. Status Viatoris Says:

    How very surreal! Looks like a lot of fun, though. Here in My Little Italian Village, a lot of people do a sort of line dance, group dance thingy for lots of the songs that play at our fiestas. It is most bizarre, but looks pretty fab. Sadly I am too uncoordinated to join in… 🙁

  11. Erin Says:

    I’m hardly coordinated either, but sometimes looking look a fool is worth it. I still haven’t managed to muster up the courage to try Spanish dances like Flamenco though. I suppose failure is somehow more justifiable when it comes to being utterly terrible at my own culture’s traditions. Hmm.

  12. nancy todd Says:

    This post brings back good memories! Next time I am in Madrid, I am putting on my dancing boots.

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