Written by: Sarah Marsden
It had been just a few short weeks in Houston but I already felt like I was making serious headway when it came to fitting into the Southern culture. Let’s face it, in the past few weeks I had discovered and devoured Tex Mex food, tackled the biggest plate of the best BBQ in Houston and had even managed to slip a natural sounding “y’all” into a grammatically correct English sentence. I knew if you wanted the best seafood enchiladas in the city, you better go to Cyclone Anaya’s in Midtown (neighborhood close to downtown) and if you wanted the best lean pork ribs, to go to Goode Company. I thought I knew it all…..at least until I went dancing.
If you are old enough to journey into a country bar to go dancing in Texas, there are a couple things you need to learn. In Columbus, when a country song comes on, it sometimes results in a state of confusion and one in which my friends and I would find ourselves awkwardly clapping our hands and occasionally even busting out the “singing into your cell phone pretending it’s a microphone” move. Unless you’re at Nyoh’s, these classic moves seem to suffice as an acceptable form of dance in Columbus. In Houston, such actions would simply be laughed at. When a country song comes on in Houston, you better find a partner and start the “Two Step.” I was fascinated at first watching this waltz-like dance, but quickly realized that it isn’t as complicated as it looks. Just two steps to the right, one to the left….two steps to the right, one step to the left. The good news is, if you openly admit that you’re from up north and are clueless about what you’re doing at a country bar, Texas locals are very willing to show you the ropes. The same goes for line dancing. The first time you are out on the dance floor and a line dancing song comes on, it can be fairly horrifying. People start grouping together and stomping on the ground and the next thing you know you find yourself in the middle of a Riverdance-like group, lost and confused about what you should be doing. My advice…..don’t panic and run. Instead, play the clueless card and try to learn it. It can be a lot of fun and nothing makes you feel like you fit in more than nailing down a complicated line dance.
If you get sick of all the Southern food and line dancing, another unique activity you have to experience is turtle racing. Every Thursday night in Midtown, a place called Little Woodrows holds turtle races where you can actually place bets on the fastest turtle. All of the turtles are placed in a bucket and when the whistle is blown, they are dumped out into a huge circle and whichever turtle runs to the outside of the circle first, wins the race. The prize isn’t anything over the top, but it’s still a lot of fun and people can get pretty competitive. Stay tuned to hear more about my internship at Shell during next week’s blog.