The Cowboy Up Saloon arguably became the hottest place to be during a night out in Dover last weekend when the grand opening drew 674 people for food, drinks and free country music dance lessons last Saturday night.
That was the exit count for the establishment that has a capacity of 415, with the ebb and flow of the crowd, owners said.
In addition, Cowboy Up Saloon's Facebook "likes" had climbed above 2,100 in a matter of four weeks, co-owner Jimmy Baker said. It was 1,886 when they first unlocked the door on Sept. 22.
And most of the comments on their Facebook page were from people thanking the Bakers for opening up Cowboy Up Saloon.
In a word, it was heartwarming, co-owner Felicia Baker said.
Felicia and Jimmy Baker opened up the long anticipated Cowboy Up Saloon to share their love for dance in the same location they met 18 years ago when it was a country bar called Arizona's. It was a fitting return for the place where Jimmy literally swept Felicia off her feet.
Jimmy, now a reservist at Dover Air Force Base, learned to dance at a military night club on the U.S. Naval base he was stationed at in 1989.
Country music has exploded beyond its niche base and more people have yearned to learn how to dance formally given the "Dancing with the Stars' phenomenon, Felicia Baker said. That gave her and Jimmy the idea to not just have country music and good food but free dance lessons nightly as well.
They signed their lease in June after six weeks of negotiations and spent the summer on renovations that included construction of the dance floor and stage.
"It just felt right," Felicia Baker said. "He used to two-step me around the dance floor when I was pregnant with our youngest [daughter Jordan]."
Barbara Parsons and Barbara Chaffinch are the country line dance instructors, and Chris Tyre is the house deejay, Felicia Baker said. And Cowboy Up Saloon does not just play country music. The deejay also plays rock, pop, hip-hop and even a little bit of disco just to mix things up.
Lori Sharp, of Camden, was among those who attended on opening night.
"It's awesome," Sharp said Wednesday night. "It's exactly what Dover needed. And they had an excellent band [Hung Jury] last weekend. They're coming back this weekend."
The crowd at Cowboy Up Saloon has drawn people from throughout Kent and Sussex counties, including Erin Stolarz, of Seaford, and Brandy Jester, of Georgetown.
Jester said Saturday night was wild.
"There were people from one wall to another," she said. "The band was amazing. They did the line dancing, the casual dancing. It was a good time."
Page 2 of 2 - "There's nothing like this around and it's just great to come to a place like this where all ages fit in," Stolarz said. "You get free lessons and just have fun."
Jester and Stolarz took a couple of dance lessons with Parsons Wednesday night.
All in all, everyone has been so friendly, Jimmy Baker said.
"If they know [how to dance], they're willing to teach," he said. "If they don't know, they are extremely motivated to learn. That's what we're all about. We're just here to have a good time."