Coyote Feminism

Don't look down on those bar dancers — they're pros.

I wasn't sure why I was even going to the Coyote Ugly SaloonCoyote Ugly Saloon I'm not a fan of watching scantily clad women frolic around for the entertainment and pleasure of seedy guys. And guess what? One of the first things I noticed upon walking in was a gray-haired dude making awkward catcalls as he repeatedly pawed at the ass of a female patron who danced on the bar. Blatant objectification of women? Check!

Still though, I'd come to help Coyote Ugly celebrate its third anniversary in Fort Lauderdale, and I was gonna give it a fair shot. Because if it could win over a cynical feminist, it could win over anyone, right?

Ambiance: About half a dozen girls danced on the bar, including a chubby, curly haired chick, two bartenders, and a microsized brunet whose teeth were filed into sharp fangs. The dark-wood bar was very long and quite wide, and bras of all colors, shapes, and sizes hung over the marker-scrawled mirrors behind the bar. The place was decorated with red lights, flags, posters, hubcaps, and license plates.

Just then, a bouncer came by and sternly instructed the gray-haired gentleman to stop manhandling the girls dancing on the bar. "I can't touch you anymore," he yelled up at the girl, just before exploding in a drunken cackle. At least the bar didn't condone stupid behavior. That's one point to the saloon.

Anniversary: To celebrate its third anniversary, the bar offered drink specials every hour. I know this because the big-voiced Coyote Ugly bartender with the mic continued to inform us: "It's a celebration, bitches!" Dio's "Holy Diver" punctuated the bartender's explicit orders to consume many, many shots, which was also my cue to start talking to people.

I ordered a Bud Light, and the dark-haired, pierced bartender seemed to have little patience for anything under the $10 minimum — meaning, you'd be charged $10 even if you didn't order that much booze. When I received my drink, I held it to my chest to protect it from the pairs of cowboy boots stomping across the bar.

After a few minutes, I was instructed by Tim, a blond, very tall bouncer, to smile — or at least drink more. I guess I had my game face on. Tim said they call him "Baywatch" because he's a lifeguard by day.

"Have you ever had to throw anyone out of here?" I asked.

"No, not really. Anyone we tell to leave, leaves," he said. "I used to be a bouncer at America's Backyard, and I had to throw people out all the time. But here, the girls pretty much take care of themselves."

"Hell yeah," I agreed. "They scare me."

Coyotes: The bartenders — rather, Coyotes — all had ballerina bodies and bright smiles. They wore a staple uniform of ripped-up jeans and one-piece bathing suits — all in bright colors with large intentional gaps in the fabric to reveal the girls' tummies. It also seemed to be their job to try to coerce every unwilling woman in the bar to get up and dance on it. I watched their canned moves through narrowed eyes — hip, hip, spin, hip, hip, spin — and dared one of them to mess with me.

A dark-haired Coyote, whose bar-top pirouettes and flourishes caused me to joke that she was a ballroom-dancing-school dropout, grabbed a nearby Pittsburgh Steelers fan. The woman wore earrings shaped like Steelers helmets, gold and black beads, and a Steelers shirt. The Coyote pulled her up onto the bar. The Steelers had just won, so the woman had no problem shaking her ass a little. Next, the Coyote went for me.

"I can't," I said. "I have a sprained ankle."

"Oh my God. I'm so sorry," she said, still dancing. "I didn't know!"

"Hey, it's OK," I said. "I'm lying."

She laughed, futilely tried to pull me up one more time, then danced down the bar, her arms flourishing gracefully. These sassy bartenders are magical, bar-dancing, supertoned fairies. At the end of the song, the lovely Coyote dropped into a split right in front of me. "Hi!" she said, before jumping back up and running back down the bar.

"I think I'm in love with her," I said.

My companion rolled his eyes. "Two seconds ago, you hated this place."

Coyote corporate: Bouncer Tim took me over to Lil Lovell, the dark-haired, petite founder of the Coyote Ugly Saloon. She was in town for the party. She's probably busy most of the time making many dollars off her bars, the Coyote Ugly movie, and the CMT reality TV show. She told me she was enjoying the party, and she seemed flattered that I was familiar with her blog, Lil Spill. Then she directed me over to Daniel, one of her managers.

I asked Daniel about raucous shenanigans that had occurred inside the four walls of Coyote Ugly.

"As soon as you get on that bar, you're protected," Daniel told me. "You don't have to worry about anything. I mean, if you're off the bar and your man's grabbing your boobs, that's whatever. But we've got more bouncers than any bar in the area, and if you need help, we're right there.

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