Photo credit: Liz Sandburg
Photo credit: Liz Sandburg

Music and dancing to boot at Sarasota County's country bar

Two-Step over to The White Buffalo Saloon for line-dancing fun

True confession – I cannot dance and I strongly dislike country music. So one would assume that Sarasota's most popular line dancing establishment, The White Buffalo Saloon and I would be destined to clash. But it was my friend's 30th birthday party and I like her, so I slapped on some jeans and a smile and joined the party. And as much as I'd like to say that I had a secret dancing skill that revealed itself amongst The Electric Slide or that I suddenly understood the allure of Garth Brooks, neither phenomenon occurred.

What did happen that fateful night was that I danced my heart out, smiled until my cheeks hurt, and am anxious to go back and make a further fool out of my uncoordinated self.

Not just for Cowboys

Before I went to The White Buffalo, I expected it to resemble the out-of-town bar visited by Ren and friends in Footloose, where red boots and whiskey were the norm. While it is absolutely the place to don your favorite boots (bonus points if they are paired with a sun dress or cutoffs), it's not solely a cowboy dive.

The establishment is laid out in that tables and the bar are shaped like a horseshoe with a massive dance floor in the center. Care to dance? Jump on in. A bit more timid? Just watch as you enjoy your moonshine, of which there are three varieties on the menu. There are so many dancers that a shy novice with two left feet – yes, me – can join the group and give it her all without feeling like she's being watched. Or judged.

Newbies Welcome

I found myself trying to remember how to grapevine from that aerobics class I took in college. Many of the dancers are new, but many more are good. Really, really good. Personally, I can watch people dance all day, admiring their coordination and wishing for just a smidgeon of rhythm. They are not only amazing, knowing the routines to dozens and dozens of routines, but I found they are enthusiastic to help the newbies like me. Tips on steps were consistently thrown my way, helping me to get at least not fall completely on my face. And because of this infectious enthusiasm, I am planning on going back. Soon. But this next time will be intentionally planned for Thursday night, because that's lesson night.

On Thursday and Friday nights, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., The White Buffalo becomes a novice line dancer haven – the dance floor fills with dancers of all levels, from beginners to experts, and instructions for the various routines are announced and demonstrated.

Inexpensive Thrill

All of this is free for all participants, providing they spend at least $5 on food or drinks. So if you're one who may need a little liquid courage to dance in front of people, they have that option covered. Or if you dance so much that you work up an appetite, take a break and enjoy a bite of laid back Southern fare. The full menu features burgers, nachos, wings, salads, and fried pickles. Eat up and burn it all off on the dance floor.

In addition to line dance lessons, the schedule at The White Buffalo, found on their website, boasts couples dance, Friday night dance party, drag queen bingo, and weekly live music. I haven't taken my kids, but there are families of all sorts present. And that seems to sum up the place. People of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels having some good old fashioned fun, listening to music and dancing along. And maybe some red boots and whiskey thrown in for fun.

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