Cultural research expedition


3 Stars

Street: 11220 Outlet Dr
City: Knoxville
Phone: 865-675-4563

Recently, the denizens of Knoxpatch decided a night of culture was long overdue. So we set forth on an adventure to Cotton Eyed Joe’s. For those of you who don’t know, you probably don’t live in Knoxville. Just find a copy of the song “Cotton Eyed Joe” by the Swedish musical phenomenon Rednex and you’ll be all caught up. For the rest of you, please continue on.

CEJ’s is the infamous country music line-dancing club off Lovell Road in West Knoxville. Everybody has been there. If you haven’t been there, you’ve at least heard a story. People with whom I come into contact with on a day-to-day basis would be frightened to know I went there. Good thing they don’t know who Bjorn is.

For a bit of personal history, I used to go there quite often. I can admit it. A friend thought it would be a swell idea to line dance and meet women. I didn’t mind meeting women, but I will not pattern-dance. It goes back to the Conga (that wonderful song by Miami Sound Machine that brings back such fond memories of the 8th grade). Or maybe it was from an earlier age, Hokey Pokey at the skating rink. Either way, pattern-dancing is just wrong. But that’s a story for another day.

So, I would go with this friend and then eventually conned another friend into going. So while Friend A was line dancing and trying to pick up chicks, Friend B and I would stock up on 75-cent well drinks and shoot pool all night.

That was 10 years ago.

Oddly enough, nothing has changed. Except now I’m married, so the perspective is different. Everything else about that place is exactly the same. Down to the WOKI/WIVK neon signs (all I remember from those early days, related to line dancing, was the trainer yelling to the trainees “WOKI, WIVK, WOKI, WIVK,” while explaining which direction to face).

Another thing that was different was a lack of country music. Most of what they played sounded like Salt-N-Pepa remixes. Daisy-Mae informed me that one rock-sounding tune was some sort of newfangled country music, and after listening, I realized that they were saying “Save a horse, ride a cowboy,” which I guess qualifies as country. Much like the techno songs “Craziaskowboi” (LaTour) or “Beers, Steers, and Queers” (Revolting Cocks) are country songs.

Of course, they played “Electric Slide” (boogie woogie woogie woogie) which you can probably count on.

Where was I? Yes, I kept asking myself that.

So we were at CEJ’s on a Saturday night. And we had some rum under our belts. The first impression coming in, after finding a parking space, was the cordial southern charm they wanted to relay. The guy checking IDs shook everybody’s hand. Then the friendly staff where you paid $3 to get in were puzzled when I turned down beer.

Being non-CEJ type people, we promptly wandered off to a table out of the way to regroup, visit the restrooms, and figure a plan of action. A waitress asked what I wanted to drink and had returned with it before I realized she’d left.

By then, we were fully acclimated, so we walked over to a spot next to the Big Rig DJ booth to watch the dance floor and other club goers. From that vantage point, we were able to witness line-dancing and the many, many overweight girls with tiny shirts on and giant bellies poking out. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are all sorts of people in the world, and most of them are beautiful in their own unique way. But please keep that covered up.

Another thing that hasn’t changed, and I’m sorry for noticing this Daisy-Mae, is the scenery. Knoxville is populated with some amazing women, and a very adequate representation is made at CEJ’s, as was the case on this Saturday night. It’s even better than West Town Mall.

Having short attention spans, we wanted to experience as much as we could in as short a timeframe as possible. So Daisy-Mae and company made their way to the dance floor for freestyle time, and the rest of us moseyed on up to the bull riding machine to inquire.

Being the wussy that I am (my back and testicles would be angry should I ride the bull), I refrained. But others opted to risk personal injury and actually rode the thing. They really looked like they were having fun, even when they got thrown off. Lots of people, who weren’t with us, left the bull clutching both their backs and their testicles. Others were more successful and sustained little to no injury. Brehd and friend, both first time bull riders, managed to stay on better than just about anybody else, and Brehd was complimented for his unique spinning dismount.

After realizing that no amount of convincing would get me on the bull, we decided to call it a night.

Sadly enough, we have to admit that we all had fun doing something we wouldn’t normally do. CEJ’s has people, music, dancing, activities, beverages, shooter girls, beer carts, water jugs, restrooms, food, scenery, guys in giant hats and belt buckles, mullets, buzzcuts, and everything in between. What more could you want from a night out?