Finding a location to get your country on in Los Angeles is harder than it may seem. I’ve been to venues claiming to be country bars (Saddle Ranch), that fully lack the small town charm and laid back environment you’d find at your local southern honky tonk. So, I set myself on a mission to find some authentic country style bars in Los Angeles county. Just last week I went on a visit to my first, The Cowboy Palace Saloon in Chastworth. Deep within the confines of the San Fernando Valley, The Cowboy Palace sits among blocks of suburban residential life. You wouldn’t expect to find a raging country bar in this location, but upon driving up, you realize you’ve stumbled upon something unique. The signs outside that read “HOWDY” and “Hot Country Bands!” beckon you in immediately.
Finally… A place like “Cheers” that you can call home. Where you’ll meet fun people, make new friends, learn the latest dance crazes and whoop it up while you let your hair down.
The entrance to their website is all truth. With over thirty years in business, their walls are lined with the famous faces of patrons and past performers, including The Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, and Brad Paisley. In that thirty years they’ve never strayed from their desire to provide a country western feel, live music, and line dancing to their loyal customers. In fact, many of their regulars are western stuntmen, horse breeders, and rodeo riders that appreciate the unique style and homey quality of the location. The decor itself makes it a favorite of country music videos and it is frequently featured in films, as a backdrop to scenes from movies and television shows like Twilight, Deep Impact, and Murder She Wrote.
In fact, it doesn’t appear that The Cowboy Palace has changed once in the over thirty years they’ve been in business. Their kind bartenders still ask for your name, work hard to find you the best deal, and make sure your glass is never empty (trust me on the last one). From the moment you walk into the bar there’s a very old school western feel to it; cowboy boots hang from the walls, wooden paneling on the walls, and a stage with a dance floor that stands in the center of the room waiting for you to take a whirl. To me, it was like walking into a time machine that spit me out in the middle of a small southern town back in the 1970’s. And I mean that in a good way.
We were instantly told about their beer specials (a bucket of 4 beers for $16 if you get in before 8PM) and encouraged to pick our poison. Behind us we heard the clicking and clacking of cowboy boots on a hardwood floor, a clear indication that the line dancing portion of the night was beginning. That’s right, dance lessons. One of the many reasons this was our first choice for this column. The Cowboy Palace offers some kind of line dancing lesson ever night of the week (you can view their schedule here). On this particular Friday night we watched Marie teach both newcomers and frequent dancers three new routines. It’s clear that these crowds know what they’re doing, they never miss a beat and constantly make that dance floor look good. For someone that hasn’t line danced in years, it took a lot of liquid courage to even think about getting up beside them, and I still couldn’t. The liquid courage is easy to come by when you sit down at a booth and take a look at their specialty drinks, which include names like Patsy Cline (Gin or Vodka, Dry Vermouth, Olive) and Leann Rimes (Absolute Mandarin, Peach Schnapps, Twist), just to name a few.
The best part of the night, by far, was when the live music started playing. Jimi Nelson and band took the stage for an energetic mix of originals and covers that got everyone in the bar up and moving. Even us! The crowd was full of friendly guys and gals that have all the patience in the world for any newcomers who don’t know how to two step or square dance (I.E. US!). We were lucky enough to be invited to dance by local Tony, who was so kind in teaching us the moves and making sure we stayed on beat. We danced the night away to songs like Kip Moore’s “Beer Money” and Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar” just to name a few of the hit covers Jimi played throughout.
Overall, The Cowboy Palace Saloon has an incredible vibe, they have no shame in being country western and it allows you to completely immerse yourself in a night of dancing and fun. The loyal attendees just make everything better with their friendly faces and openness to introducing newcomers to their love of line dancing. It was one of the best nights out I’ve had in a long time. I felt welcome and taken care of, and definitely have plans to go back again in the very near future.
For more on The Cowboy Palace Saloon check out their website!
21635 Devonshire Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311