Iowa City nightlife downtown is more glamorous than what people expect when coming to Iowa.
Given our Midwestern roots, the cliché of cowboy boots, flannel shirts and denim-everything isn’t necessarily what you see downtown… unless it’s country night at Bo James on Wednesday night, in which case you might see the occasional cowboy struttin’ down the sidewalk. Now I usually like to run in the other direction of anything country/hick, even though I’ve lived here my entire life. But it was my best friend’s 22nd birthday and she likes her country boys. So we went on the dark side, ten minutes outside of town, to find every country cliché combined into one bar called Wildwood. And let me tell you, it was indeed wild.
The night began as we got ready for a girls night with the roomies, each of us dressing in the best country gear we had–from flannel to laced vests, but adding our own touch of downtown with some heels. We cracked open a beer, jammed out to some country to prepare ourselves and headed out. As we arrived at the bar, all that was in sight was a shed with neon beer signs in the windows and the label of a bull stamped on a sign. As you walked in, the scene before you could best be described as plucked from the movie Country Strong. Instead of the white-girl-wasted bumpin’ and grindin’, people were dancing to a choreographed line dance, which we discovered they learned from free lessons on Thursday nights. Might I add there was a different line dance for every song. I legitimately believed that “line dancing” was just one kind of dance until then, like the Mocoreena or Solider Boy.
Anyway, as we strutted past the crowd of all ages–denim vests and all–we made our way upstairs where we were served platters of fried food and beer in a mason jar. Classy! As silly as it sounds it was actually a blast. Weeping over adorable old couples getting their groove on to the live band killing every popular country song while drunken girls with tank tops and jeans, in the middle of December, hit on the band like they are at a concert–overall, the bar scene at Wildwood was a recipe for great entertainment. There would even be the occasional Western gent with his large cowboy hat tipped low over his face, adding a moment of mystery as they would have to physically lift their head to look at you from underneath and delive the clever/unheard of pick up line for them to teach you how to line dance. Although I’d hope for Garret Hedlund and not a 50 year old man, those mason jars finally did their job to get our asses on the dance floor and create our own line dance with a little booty bump. The only disappointment of the night was that the bucking bull wasn’t there so we didn’t to show them cowboys how we do it, but maybe next time.
So over or after break, if you’re looking for something a little different and a true taste of the Iowan country scene, scrounge up the flannel from the back of your closet, grab a few of your friends and a case of beer, and prepare yourself to witness some small town roots just ten minutes away.