Banff Nightlife – Line Dancing at Wild Bills
Banff National Park, Alberta
As you walk up the stairs into Wild Bills Saloon on Banff Avenue, an idea of the atmosphere of the place immediately hits you. Signed framed photos on the wall from the likes of Alanis Morissette adorn the entrance. Country music echoes down the hall and the collected noise of hundreds of drinkers hums in the background. Though this western themed restaurant / bar caters to many different genres of people, tonight line dancing is on the menu for newcomers and regulars alike.
As far back as I can remember, my “dancing” has been ridiculed. Apparently pretending to be a robot in pain is not what a woman looks for in a man. The idea of dancing in an easy line appeals to me. How far wrong can one go? The answer I soon found out is very! Ian and Mickey Monroe have been teaching this for over 18 years so are not unused to the less talented among us. Ian told me “we’re actually from Calgary but we travel up here for this. It’s fairly easy to teach. The women are definitely easier. The men are too rigid and afraid to let go”. There is a good reason for this.
It takes about 20 minutes or so to get the moves down. It is more complex than I expected and somehow at the end of every segment, I find myself facing the opposite direction to everyone else. Though Ian’s instructions over the mike are spot on, my two left feet just wont listen. I look like a drunk on a boat and this hasn’t failed to catch the eye of the amused audience watching. By the end when we go through the whole dance to music, I have convinced myself that I am the new (thinner) Garth Brooks. Later when I look back on the video, I realize I still looked like a drunken man on a ship!
The best thing is that you don’t actually need to be good to enjoy line dancing. Nonetheless I was still relieved when the Brent Lee band stepped on stage and played some excellent Johnny Cash covers. A table of holidaying people drinking regular shots of tequila filled the dance floor until the cattle lasso started. Part owner and bon vivant David “Swanee” Swanson stepped onto the dance floor with a mechanical bull and helped obliging guests onto a fake horse to test their throwing skills against a moving bull. Only one cowboy made the grade with a successful throw much to the delight of watching diners.
When you arrive in Banff, it feels like the kind of town where you should be wearing your chequered shirt and cowboy hat. Wild Bills on a Wednesday night is the perfect place to do this. With a bit of practice, you may even become a better dancer than me!