If we didn't know better, we'd swear it's Urban Cowboy all over again.
In a scene reminiscent of the classic 1980 John Travolta movie set in Houston and at Gilley's nightclub in Pasadena, a duo of sultry twenty-something cowgirls were riding dirty atop the mechanical bull on a recent night at the soft opening of Bayou Place's newest nightlife installation, PBR. That's short for "Professional Bull Riders" for those uninitiated to the much-anticipated conglomeration of bars moving into the second level of the Theater District's one-stop entertainment complex.
Part honky tonk, part skyline hotspot, PBR is poised to become the next go-to watering hole for accessible down-home nightlife.
A lengthy bar flanks the entire west side of the 18,000-square-foot space, serviced by red hot pants and chaps-clad bartenders, who occasionally take five to dance on the bar à la Coyote Ugly. Above, a trio of flat screens broadcasts the latest sports news and games. The bar service isn't so much about breadth of elaborate cocktails as it is about speedy, inexpensive service. On tap you'll find Coors, Miller Light and Blue Moon, as well as a simple array of liquors.
The generously-sized dance floor lends itself equally to raucous line dancing and intimate bumping and grinding, while a cash icebox bar allows easy access to longnecks. A third bar on the eastern edge ingeniously opens onto the indoors and an outdoor balcony populated with rows of high tables. While the veranda crowd enjoys views of downtown's Aquarium, Fish Plaza and Wortham Theater Center, the interior offers peeks into a smoky, double mirror-walled bathroom.
Of course, the main draw is a mean mechanical bull. Ready to mount that mighty stead? Not so fast — you'll have to sign a long waiver first. But once you're on that electric animal (san shoes and shot glass), you'll feel yourself immediately transported to the open prairies of the Wild West. For a brief moment, you are a Professional Bull Rider.
Rounding out the riding experience is a Jesus fish branded onto the machine's backside. The flair doesn't stop on the bull's derrière, though. On Wednesday evening, a cache of yet-to-be-hung tchotchkes rested in a corner — think steel lone stars and decorated NASCAR shirts.
Kitschy? Perhaps. But it's a far cry from the desolate "For Lease" space that has riddled the upper story of Bayou Place. Above all, the vibe is laid back. Comparisons to Rebels Honky Tonk are inevitable, but PBR promises to host none of the nonsense of the Washington Avenue scene.
When PBR opens Friday night, visitors can spy the next stages of the bar concepts that will be opening in the weeks ahead as part of the development dubbed Live at Bayou Place. Up next is Shark Bar, a venue boasting an '80s and '90s soundtrack. Developer Drew Coleman lists N*Sync and Backstreet Boys as expected dance floor mainstays.
Read more about the future of Bayou Place here.