Friday, July 23, 2010

Escaping the Bunny Hutch, or the After-Party That Wasn’t

Leaving the Crowne Plaza for the PBR event on Saturday night, we got off in the second-floor lobby. (By the way, the Crowne in Tulsa isn’t half as nice as the one in Billings. Just sayin’.) Lots of people, mostly young women, were congregating in a seating area off to our left. “What’s that?” I asked Montana Barn Cat. He cast an appraising eye at the masses and stated unequivocally, “That’s the Buckle Bunny Hutch.”

After the event ended, we trudged back through the still-soupy atmosphere to the hotel. We had been debating all day whether to go over to Cain’s Ballroom for the official after-party, but doing that would have obliged us to retrieve the car from valet parking at the exact moment that millions of other folks were trying to do the same. So we postponed that decision and headed to the bar for a drink.

We were among the first to get in there, but it became clear very quickly that we were never going to get served. We heard the bartender, with whom we’d had a very pleasant chat about Tiger Woods the day before, tell one of the customers that he didn’t have a cocktail server on duty that night, so if you wanted a drink, you had to go to the bar to get it, and people were already standing three deep there.

(At one point in our conversation, the bartender asked us if we worked for the PBR. “Why did he think that?” I later inquired of the Barn Cat. “Because we aren’t dressed like slobs and I was wearing a cowboy hat,” he sagely replied.)

Faced with these dire prospects, we hightailed it out of there and went in search of food and drink elsewhere. We passed Adriano Moraes, who was going up the escalator as we were going down, which suggested that maybe a lot of PBR folks and riders might be coming to the Crowne instead of going over to Cain’s. Eventually, we ended up at a very nice sushi bar just a few blocks away. You might not think you can get good sushi in Tulsa. You’d be wrong about that.

When we got back to the hotel again, we spotted Ryan McConnel and three other riders leaning up against the railing at the far end of the lobby seating area, all of them looking like they’d rather have been anywhere but there. The buckle bunnies were out in force to our right, rummaging through the little buffet and roiling around among the rest of the fans. (By now I’m sure you can all recognize the buckle-bunny costume: a little stretchy top with or without spaghetti straps and/or spangles, either a micro-miniskirt (usually denim) or ripped-up cutoffs that just barely keep the essentials covered, and cowboy boots. In most cases, I’d bet the whole outfit doesn’t cost $25. Oh, except for the overpriced cell phone that they all seem to be packing, of course.)

On the other side of the escalators, we saw three dejected buckle bunnies sadly peering over the railing, I presume in hopes of spotting an unclaimed cowboy. Since these poor girls were decidedly less svelte than the rest of the occupants of the hutch, I didn’t think their chances were very good.

We ducked back into the bar and realized that regardless of what was going on at Cain’s, or out in the lobby, THAT was where the real PBR After Party was. Riders and fans were cheek-by-jowl in there, and you couldn’t have gotten a drink if your life depended on it.

We never got over to Cain’s, which is sad because it’s been a hotspot on the Tulsa music scene since the ’20s, and Montana Barn Cat was dying to look it over. But we did have a great time at the After Party That Wasn’t.

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