Dancing in the Street

Have a rip-roaring time on Second Avenue, where the venues rank tops for dancing and music.
Farrah Austin

Nashville’s Second Avenue--a blazing strip of neon signs, blinking lights, and vibrant nightlife--promises a boot-scooting, stiletto-clacking good time. A street that never runs out of musicians or places to hear them play, this area can keep you dancing till dawn.

Straddled by bars and restaurants featuring live music, the stretch (only minutes from I-24) pulses to the Music City sound. Duck into Mulligan’s Pub and Restaurant for a pint, and you just might hear some traditional Irish tunes. Or hit B.B. King’s Blues Club for soulful melodies. Dress up or dress down--you’ll find more than 20 different nighttime venues and shops to explore.

Our favorite stop is the Wildhorse Saloon. Lines of ready-to-move dancers waiting to enter snake along its sidewalk on Friday and Saturday nights. Once inside, revelers encounter the club’s three levels complete with the largest dance floor in town, a full-service restaurant, and a billiard room. The Wildhorse has hosted many television productions, including Nashville Star, Can You Duet?, and Gone Country.

Hit the Dance Floor
In her best Grand Ole Opry, mistress-of-ceremonies voice, a Wildhorse instructor, wearing hip-hugging jeans and a belt buckle full of bling, asks for volunteers for a line dance session.

Young and old scamper about like calves at a rodeo to learn the Okie Dokie, a dance that originated on these very floors. “Slide to the right, slide to the left. Now grapevine,” she says. A few practices later, the group looks darn good strutting to a DJ mix of tunes. Live performers at the Wildhorse include rocker Bret Michaels, jazz icon Etta James, and the melodious Al Jarreau.

Even Reba McEntire lent her face for the grand opening 14 years ago. The songbird boldly led a herd of cattle along Second Avenue and parked them at the front door of the club for kicks.

Now not even wild horses--or a herd of steer--can keep fans away.

Mulligan’s Pub and Restaurant: www.mulliganspubandrestaurant.com or (615) 242-8010. B.B. King’s Blues Club: www.bbkingclubs.com or (615) 256-2727. Wildhorse Saloon: www.wildhorsesaloon.com or (615) 902-8200.

"Dancing in the Street" is from the May 2008 issue of  Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.