Fads #20: Urban Cowboys

I bought this book last week (The Official Guide to Country Dance Steps - 1980) and it brought back a wave of memories from that year when everything went Urban Cowboy.

Certain fads stick in our collective memory because they were so outrageous, widespread or of historical significance..... the Urban Cowboy fad is no such memory.  Many of you may not know that the United States spent the better part of a couple years totally immersed in the faux cowboy shtick. Suddenly everything was about Gilley Beer and mechanical bulls.  The radio airwaves were ablaze with Ronnie Milsap and Kenny Rogers, and Hollywood's biggest name, fresh from Grease and Saturday Night Fever, was placing his stamp of approval on the Next Big Thing.

Of course, the very nature of a fad is that it is transitive. We were barely into 1983 when "blue collar" was  officially pronounced "out".  Goodbye Every Which Way But Loose, goodbye Billy Carter, goodbye Take this Job and Shove It, and goodbye Urban Cowboy. It was nice knowing you.

But before we move on, have a look at a few pages from this wonderful tome highlighting some of the fashions from the period.  Enjoy.


  1. oh jeez, i was going out with a girl who sang in a strip center Urban Cowboy-type club that had real rednecks in it, i almost got my ass kicked so many times defending her from drunken assholes. this was in Houston at the height of the madness, by the way. she eventually ran away with a coke dealer and used my '73 Malibu to leave town in. i got it back after a couple of weeks, though...anyway, thanx for the memories! :)

  2. That's quite a story Prof.

    I lived in small town Kansas at the time, so nothing much changed with this craze other than Country music on the pop station.

  3. I remember hearing about this fad, but had very little exposure to it. The most I saw was perhaps a couple of girls wearing plaid shirts and prairie skirts to school...but that was about it.

  4. I was a young tradesman and drove a battered, work-a-day pickup truck, because that's what I needed, and what I could afford. Then along came Urban Cowboy, and my workhorse was suddenly cool. Next thing you knew, there were glitzy pickup trucks all over the place. I never understood that... glitzy pickup trucks... and I still don't. But, like bluejeans that got worn out on your ass, or while they were still at the factory, the real work truck was the more-cooler. For a while. I never rode a mechanical bull, though I did see them here and there. Hey, when you're in a damned bar, a few hundred pounds of mechanical bull doesn't significantly change the balance, given all the bull that's generated in real-time over "shells" of beer.

  5. "No, my name is not Bud, and your name is not Sissy, and our house is not called Gilley's." -actual line from an argument between my husband and me last year

  6. Urban Cowboy is my favorite movie of all time! My husband I enjoy quoting it in conversation. He thinks corn bread sounds real nice and we don't even have a box of instant. I tell him not to complain against me....