So, last week, I set off on my first ever spring break trip, to South Padre Island, rather anxious. In the weeks preceding our departure, multiple people had told me that I was in for a “interesting experience,” which filled me with a cocktail of excitement and dread. I’d seen “American Pie,” and some MTV spring break shows, so I wasn’t exactly an expert on Texan party culture, but was looking forward to continuing my whole-hearted submergence in American culture.
We rolled up to our house on East Capricorn Drive ready to rumble, armed with enough alcohol and frozen pizza to open three or four bars and an Italian restaurant. Fights for fridge and bed space ensued, with racial slurs and casual sexist abuse being jokingly thrown around like a frisbee. Well, we were on holiday…and then it rained. Solidly. For two days. Furthermore, the hot water and electrics in our house were faulty, resulting in a hasty move next door on the second morning. We weren’t exactly having a good start. But, not to be deterred by adverse weather and housing conditions, we went straight to the beach and engaged in some beach soccer warfare that led to numerous bruises and embarrassment that would only be compounded by the nightlife still to come.
I hadn’t banked on clubs charging entry prices that wouldn’t have been out of place in central London, or on how it was possible for some girls to get extremely sunburnt despite only having about three hours of cumulative heat across five days. Coca-Cola beach was insane. Apparently, there’s some magic spell across South Padre, which means as soon as a girl is on a guy’s shoulders, her bikini magically has to be removed following a chant from several men. Now I wasn’t exactly complaining about this, but it’s a strange feeling. It’s kinda weird seeing that many young people quite clearly intoxicated acting in ways they might not whilst sober.
The biggest surprise was just how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I must have been high-fived by thirty different people screaming “SPRING BREAK WOOOOO” in my face. Everyone was so outgoing and nice. Clubs were so packed that moving from one side of the dance floor to the other was practically impossible, especially when the club was outdoors and it happened to be raining. Thankfully, everyone was so good-spirited that bumping into people was greeted with nothing but “no worries bro” and a pat on the back “” A refreshing change from some of the rude and alpha-male type behaviour that often occurs in groups of young people. But all in all, I’ve rarely had so much fun. The music was brilliant, though the dancing was a bit too grind-y for me, and the overall experience was amazing. And that was only half my break.
I was then incredibly fortunate to be taken up to Friendswood, Texas, a lovely little neighborhood by Houston. A lovely little neighbourhood, I was taken aback by the fact that all the houses had an American Flag flying in their front garden…until I was told one summer there had been a travelling salesman who just happened to sell flag poles to all the residents. You compulsive shopping Americans! I rode a horse, crashed a four-wheeler and got slobbered on by a very friendly dog. I felt like a proper country boy. But this was just the beginning! Saturday morning dawned and meant one thing: a trip to the Houston Rodeo.
I’d been to a rodeo once before, a small one in Montana in 2005, but nothing could have prepared me for the extravaganza that was to come. The first shock of the day came in discovering that there is in fact public transport in America, by riding on a tram to get to Reliant Park where the rodeo was housed. Other key lessons from the day included: Deep frying sweet things is a simple but effective way to create edible heaven, photo booths are always fun and Hunter Hayes is an absolute babe!
Having never heard of him before, and not being much of a country music aficionado, I was not sure what to expect of the baby-faced Mr. Hayes, but I was pleasantly surprised by his charming manner and by the end of his song “Wanted” I was screaming louder than even the most die-hard teenage fan and I wanted to marry him. He’s a sweetie.
But the highlight of my day was without a doubt the actual sport of rodeo itself. The absolutely amazing displays of athleticism from the runners and riders were incredible to experience. The rodeo clowns need examining for insanity, considering the willfully stupid way they run straight at these angry bulls once the rider has come off it. I don’t care how much you pay me, I ain’t running TOWARDS something that weighs at least 1500lbs more than me and has horns. Nuh-uh. However, I would definitely be interested in taking part in mutton busting, which is now my second favourite sport. Watching six-year-old kids get flung off sheep at high speeds and then standing up and crying on a big screen in front of 70,000 people? Absolute comic genius. Honourable mention too to the calf scramble. Seeing teens getting dragged around by calves was pretty damn funny, too. I love the secretly sadistic side to Texan culture. Y’all are great. No! Crap! YOU GUYS are great.
Damn it…you’re converting me.
Callum Squires is a first year german major columnist.