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Cowboy hats, flannel shirts and daisy dukes are starting to be more and more commonplace in Fullerton's weekend bar scene. Recently, we've noticed that the Vegas-style dive known as 2J's Lounge is trying to ditch Drake-spinning DJs for some Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson on their biggest nights of the week. These days, a typical Friday and Saturday night at the bar on Houston Ave., comes with a cavalcade of honky tonk goodness--saw dust on the floor, line dancing, parades of female cowboy boots are clacking their heels around the bar. Resident outlaw country band Angel and the Badman churn out some old-timey twang accompanied with upright bass and banjo.
If you're a country fan looking for a place to hang on the weekend, this abrupt change of vibe is a godsend. If you come in expecting the same Top 40 schlock as every other bar, you might be a bit puzzled.
"We've had some people take one step in here and literally just turn around and walk back out," says 2J's owner Tom Gallagher. "Then there's some that come in, pants hanging all low or whatever, they stand around looking all confused and before you know it, they're line dancing."
The bar began its Friday and Saturday country nights last month and hasn't looked back since. And surprisingly, given their EDM dance club surroundings, this new Southern aesthetic is doing quite well. It wasn't long ago that 2J's was a rough neck watering hole more synonymous with bar fights than boot scootin'. Gallagher and business partner Alex Alvarez' decision to make the switch was partly to bring a more unexpected, positive element into the club, even though Gallagher himself said that before bringing country into his bar, he'd never line danced once in his life. "These days I'm spending a lot of my time listening to CD's local country bands who are trying to play here now," he says. "Who knew there were so freakin' many?"
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Of course this isn't the first instance of country creeping it's way into Fullerton's Saturday night scene. Recently, we reported on the development of Hopscotch, the craft beer and whiskey bar who promises to boast jug band Americana, harmonica and old-school country. And then there's line dancing joint In Cahoots, which is still alive and kicking. But for those who don't feel like braving the annoyingly grimy 18-and-over club scene, 2J's is becoming the alternative.
Gallagher says the most noticeable result from the bar changing its tune is the abrupt spike in the female clientele. "We've never had more girls in the bar than we do now," Gallagher says, "they like flock to this stuff." Well, that and the bars ladies-only drink specials ($2 well drinks and $2 dollar drafts before 11 p.m.). Hmm, do any 2J's regulars have an opinion on the countrified changes going on under the red lights of one of Fullerton's most well-known haunts outside of downtown?