I have lived in Uptown long enough that I like to think I’ve gotten the area mostly figured out. Not on a purely sociological level — there’s effort involved in that. But I’ve seen enough of the daily motion of the neighborhood to know people's different styles and attitudes outside of bars.
I see them at their most mundane and boring moments, whether it’s picking up dry cleaning or running on the Katy Trail or standing impatiently in line at Chipotle. They are, not surprisingly, rather average people, because at the end of the day, very few people are interesting or glamorous when ordering a burrito bowl. Well, except for that one guy I saw who ordered his entire bowl to be covered in sour cream. That was pretty exceptional.
For the most part, though, the people of Uptown are about as noteworthy as any other Dallasites running errands after work. Which is why I’m so confused about where all the people who line up outside of Concrete Cowboy on a Friday night are coming from.
People stand in line for 30 minutes to join the tightly packed herd of shiny shirt-wearing and scantily clad reality show extras slowly rotating around the bar.
It’s like they don’t exist in the real world until 11 pm comes around. Or, probably more accurately, they all just live in the suburbs.
Make no mistake. Uptown has some truly douchey bars, which I find myself in far more frequently than I would like. It’s the inevitability of living in the area and having friends that have interests that don’t always align with mine.
Not everyone is cool with drinking craft beers for three hours and not talking to other people, just as I don’t enjoy dancing upstairs at 6th Street and sweating like a hog in the Mississippi summer. It’s all about compromise.
But for all of my friends’ varying tastes and styles, we have uniformly agreed that Concrete Cowboy is the worst bar in Uptown. It’s not even close, really. Sure, Kung Fu Saloon, Social House or Sisu certainly do a lot to enforce the Uptown stereotype of $30,000 millionaires, and there are plenty of people who hate the post-grad fraternity guys and sorority girls at Ice House or Blackfriar Pub. I get that.
Concrete Cowboy is some other animal. People stand in line for 30 minutes to join the tightly packed herd of shiny shirt-wearing and scantily clad reality show extras slowly rotating around the bar, hoping to find an opening so they can buy a $10 watered-down well drink served in a plastic cup.
I've had the pleasure of experiencing Concrete Cowboy a handful of times. It's usually a result of consuming one too many drinks and, on a whim, being convinced to go there, "because it might be better this time."
Although none of my experiences has been meaningful enough to warrant anything more than memories of frustration with the overall situation, I do recall that after standing in a crowd for 15 minutes to get to the bar, my friend returned with a couple of drinks. He handed one to me, looked me square in the eye and said, "This was a huge mistake coming here."
We spent the rest of our time drinking on the patio — with a den of smokers and other regretful people — talking about how we were going to open a Doner Kebab stand. As I said, we were very drunk.
I'd be lying if I said that a good number of people in Concrete Cowboy didn't live in Uptown. I know people who go there fairly regularly, and I've run into neighbors there.
But I also have to believe that Concrete Cowboy attracts a heavy suburban crowd that drives at least 20 minutes down Central Expressway to get their fill of the "Uptown experience." Somehow, this corner of Cedar Springs has become a hot bed for the kind of people that gave Dallasites the $30,000 millionaire label in the first place.
It all reeks of effort, an overwhelming need to prove something via expensive drinks and tight clothing to other people doing the exact same thing. It's a sweltering nest of faux machismo and overcharged sexuality, but at least it means that all those people are in one concentrated place — for the most part — instead of contaminating the area.
Oh, and Concrete Cowboy is a terrible name for a bar, but pointing that out is akin to complaining about the food in prison. At least you can buy a magnum of Dom Perignon Luminous, which is cool because the label glows in the dark, and people respect that.
The best part about Concrete Cowboy is the patio — because it’s not the inside of Concrete Cowboy. But it’s still the worst patio in Uptown.