Cowboy disco

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Late last month Kelly and I, and a small bunch of our mates, braved the opening night of the Houston Rodeo. Actually, this is a little misleading, we attended the ground of the rodeo, but being the first night, none of the things you may associate with a rodeo were happening.

Instead of watching cowboys being violently flung from the backs of giant, angry mammals, we spent the evening watching cowboys dancing ferociously and eating Texas BBQ cooked in enormous, repurposed steel pipes. That’s right — we were at the BBQ cook-off!

The team

Kyle the cowboy — a workmate of Kelly’s — is on the Fire In Da Hole BBQ team. Yes, team. This was no ordinary BBQ, this was not even an ordinary BBQ competition, it was the 2013 Houston Rodeo World Championship BBQ Contest! To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a PDF list of the top 100 teams, and a PDF map of the BBQ tent locations. Yes, we needed the map.

For this no-so-average-backyard-BBQ, Kyle and his homies had cooked some meat. And by ‘some’ I mean ‘a lot’ — 1200lbs (600kgs!) of brisket for example — in the hopes of doing well in the competition on Saturday. We were there on Friday. They’d been cooking since Wednesday.

The size of BBQ ‘pit’ was fitting to the myth truth: everything is bigger in Texas. This was no ordinary Weber; it was custom built repurposed steel pipe, ¾ inch thick, roughly 4 feet wide, and around 15 feet long! I want to thank Kyle and the boys for taking us behind the scenes and showing us what dreams are made of. Impressive.

[IMAGEs Kyle, the meat, the BBQ]

The cowboys (and girls)

Our night was held within a giant tent with two bars. It was decked out with lights, sound system, fully stocked bars, multiple bartenders, tables, chairs, and a climbing pole. Amongst these fantastic features roamed cowboys and cowgirls of every possible description: young and old; Asian, black, and white; real, enthusiastic, and fake. There were checkered shirts, skirts, leather and gingham. There was eating, drinking, and there was dancing. And there was drunken climbing and ringing of bells atop purpose-built poles.

The whole thing could be summed up in the following surprisingly well-paired words: cowboy disco. Say it: Cowboy. Disco.


All drinks, food, and music was free (once we’d paid for the pre-ordered wristbands at $75 each). I took my big camera, and by the end of the night, most people seemed to believe I was the official photographer of the event. And it helps to have a favourable aura while in the company of hundreds of merry-go-lucky boot-scootin’ Texans.

The music

There was country music. All the country music: country-pop, country-dance, country-R&B, country-fiddle, country-electro, and country-country, and likely a bunch more sub-genres I don’t know about. Country-dubstep? Evidently there are many sub-genres of country, just as there are many sub-genres of ‘heavy metal’, so I shouldn’t really make fun.

I just don’t seem to like it, even after many, many Coors Lights.
And I got my fill of country on this night.

The photos