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Davis, California

Friday, October 15, 2021

Cowboy spirit still alive at The Davis Graduate

Those who stop by the The Davis Graduate on a Monday, Friday or Saturday night may find themselves being asked to dance by a man in a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat. However, before you start running to The Grad to find the man of your dreams, you better know how to dance — line dance, that is.

The Grad’s Country Night features music videos of the latest country hits, songs of the Billboard Top 40 and line dancing lessons. Meanwhile, its participants bring the cowboy boots, hats and plenty of plaid.

The Grad, a bar and restaurant that hosts nightlife events for patrons 18 and older, has been hosting Country Night since its opening in 1971.

Country Night takes place at The Grad, located in University Mall on Russell Blvd., most Monday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is no cover charge for patrons 21 and up before 9 p.m.; otherwise it’s $6 ($4 with college ID) for 21 and up and $10 ($8 with college ID) for 18 and up.

Line dancing lessons are offered at The Grad before Country Night officially begins. Each night features a different dance. On Friday, dancers will learn the “hillbilly,” and on Nov. 25, dancers will learn the “Hawaiian Hustle.” Titles of some of the most well-known dances include the electric slide, the cupid shuffle and the watermelon crush.

“I actually can’t stand country music, but the dancing is too damn fun,” said Davis resident Philip Johns.

According to Christian Guth, who graduated from UC Davis in 2006, when songs with the most well-known dances are playing the dance floor is so crowded that the regulars don’t generally go up.

“For some songs there are only five people up dancing. It’s when the hard songs start playing that the locals go up to dance,” Guth said. “[For] certain songs, everyone and their mother goes out and dances.”

When talking about “country dancing” there’s another half to the equation in addition to the dances: what country really means. For Country Night participants such as Andrew Dasso, a graduate student at UC Davis in agricultural engineering, country is a way of life.

“[Being country is] working hard and striving,” Dasso said.

Country music has been with many of the attendees for their whole lives, so they can’t imagine anything different. For Galt resident Natalie Gray, country equals ranches and cowboys.

“I grew up listening to it,” Gray said. “My whole family’s very country.”

Guth said she loves country music and finds it hilarious.

“I appreciate the stories they tell. They’re not as repetitive as other kinds of music,” Guth said.

To be fair, it isn’t just the dancing or the country lifestyle alone that keeps these people returning week after week. Many of the Country Night regulars said they have special ties with the community here, and it’s that community that really keeps them coming back.

“You’ll be friends with everyone by the end of the night. The community is so happy,” said Mike Rockport, who graduated from UC Davis in 2006.

And by saying that it keeps them coming back, that’s not just every once in a blue moon. The regulars at The Grad come almost every week, sometimes more than once.

“If I get off work on Mondays before 10 p.m., I’ll come by The Grad,” said Natalie Grace, who graduated from UC Davis in 2006.

And despite their seemingly chilled-out nature, these country people can get a little wild sometimes, too.

“A couple of years ago they had the mechanical bull in the middle, that was something pretty memorable,” Rockport said. “I went out there and I rode it.”

And of course, like almost anywhere nowadays, people come to Country Night at The Grad looking for love.

“If you want to find someone special, this is probably the best place to come,” Dasso said.

CHRISTINA NOVAKOV-RITCHEY can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

 

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