Riding El Toro
Rockin’ and rollin’ takes on new meaning as you desperately try to hang on to the mechanical bull that is jerking forward and backward, and side to side. It looked like fun when you and your friends dared each other to try it, but now that you’re being shaken around you’re not so sure. Whoa! You fly off on to the blow-up mat designed to cushion your fall. Tip from one rider: Never try it as a twosome.
Bull riders traditionally train on mechanical bulls, but riding these critters in bars became a craze after the 1980 movie hit Urban Cowboy. The original Gilley’s was a honky-tonk bar opened by country singer Michael Gilley and Sherwood Cryer in Pasadena, Texas, in 1971. People flocked to Gilley’s to ride the mechanical bull and hang around this Texas-size western bar, with its tin ceiling, just like characters did in this movie’s tale of young love.
The original bar closed in the 1980s, but in 2003 Gilley’s Dallas opened just south of downtown. Today, brown and white Titian, a mechanical bull with massive horns, awaits riders who have come to Gilley’s Showroom for the country music performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. Come before the shows start on a Saturday and you may be able to get free country dance lessons. While there’s no food in the Showroom, the Studio Bar and Grill is just a few steps away.
Gilley’s Dallas is a large entertainment complex near the convention center, with a variety of rooms and entertainment areas designed for parties and corporate events. During private events your guests can ride a mechanical horse and rope a mechanical calf, participate in an armadillo race, or ride Titian.
You’ll be on the bull for only a few minutes (or perhaps just seconds), but Dallas has plenty of attractions to keep visitors busy, including a few adrenaline-inducing ones. See and . In addition, history junkies will likely get a thrill from the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza, which focuses on the life, death, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. If you’ve got children with you, visit the Dallas World Aquarium and Zoo (www.dwazoo.com) or the Speed Zone (www.speedzone.com/dallas), where racing go-carts, dragsters, and more offer hair-raising excitement.
Gilley’s Dallas, 1135 S. Lamar St. ( 214/421-2021; www.gilleysdallas.com).
When to Go: Year-round.
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (21miles/34km).
$$–$$$ Magnolia Hotel, 1401 Commerce St. ( 214/915-6500; www.magnoliahoteldallas.com). $$–$$$ Sheraton Dallas, 400 N. Olive St. ( 214/742-5678; www.sheratondallashotel.com).