Sunday night, I was surrounded by scruffy looking biker dudes in denim vests and do rags, drinking $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons and listening to the Rolling Stones "Paint it Black" on the jukebox. It was the sort of experience I expected in a biker bar located in a west side strip mall -- in this case,Steel Horse Saloon
near 18th Avenue and Bell Road.
The only reason I was there was to watch the all female, almost nude jello wrestling I'd been reading about on SHS's web site and Facebook page. Although I lived in this area for about four years when I was a college student at ASU West, I'd never been to Steel Horse Saloon before.
I had, however, participated in a fierce Jell-O wrestling competition in a friend's backyard ten years ago. We dumped 30 pounds of lime Jell-O from Luby's into an inflatable kiddie pool (shaped like a pirate ship), and six of us slam danced in green slime for two hours. I was interested to see how the gelatinous action at Steel Horse Saloon compared.
The Facebook event page said the jello wrestling started at 8:30, so that's when I arrived with my girlfriend, "Bootstrap." Finding the dinky entrance to Steel Horse Saloon was tricky (it's on the east side of the strip mall, around the corner from the big pawn shop). There's no marquee out front, but the dozens of shiny, growling motorcycles out front give the place away.
Steel Horse Saloon's simplistic, rough interior décor immediately appealed to me -- I loved the Harley Davidson-orange wood paneling with the diamond plate chrome trim; the Bud Light banners waving under the air vents; the bare concrete floors; the cheap Halloween decorations and neon beer signs.
I stood at the bar and took in the crowd. I had lots of time because the bartender looked past me three times to help other customers (she later explained she thought I was with one of the guys at the bar). There were lots of bearded bikers in leather and vests, but also a lot of people in Cardinals jerseys and jeans and T-shirts (the average, neighborhood bar-types). But I didn't see many "almost nude" women who looked like they were ready to throw down in some sticky jello.
Bootstrap and I wandered the bar, which has two separate areas -- one with pool tables and a jukebox, and the other (closest to the front door), which house several tables and the stage. It was in the latter, while The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" drizzled out of the speakers, that we discovered a cheap, crumpled kiddie pool, surrounded by wads of wet towels.
It appeared we'd missed the jello wrestling. One of the staff confirmed this, after asking to see our IDs (thanks, dude, I'll be 35 next year). All that was left was the emerald green goop in the mangled pool.
"I thought the jello wrestling started at 8:30," I told the staff guy.
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"They started a little early," he said. "I can set it up again if you two want to jump in there."
We passed, but hung out long enough to finish our beers. Unfortunately, the jello wrestling wasn't a weekly event, so who knows when we might be able to catch it again at Steel Horse Saloon.
If you're really looking for a place to watch women fall out while they duke it out, we do know of another biker bar that hosts weekly wet T-shirt contests, and a strip club where weekly cage fights take place.
Steel Horse Saloon is located at 1818 W. Bell Road, Suite 100. Call 602-942-8788 or visit www.steelhorsesaloon.com for more information.