It was 2007, I was barely 21, and Mom wanted to take me out for one of my first bar experiences. We ended up at Maverick’s, the newest country bar that opened in the old Club Paris (named after Paris Hilton) in the Jacksonville Landing. Mark was our bartender and he was convinced we were sisters, a major compliment to Mom. This was my first real experience with line dancing. After a couple of drinks, Mom convinced me to hit the floor. Having line danced for years, she was basically a pro and guided me through one of the easy dances. From that night on, I was hooked.
I spent almost every weekend for the next four years on the dance floor at Maverick’s. I introduced my friends to the bar and each Friday and/or Saturday night, we piled into a car and drove downtown. We taught each other how to dance. We passed around buckets of margarita. We celebrated birthdays and achievements. We rode the mechanical bull. We were on first names basis with the bar staff and regularly skipped lines. We got into concerts for free and often went backstage to meet the bands. We were the definition of bar regulars. It was our bar and we knew that on any given night, there’d be a group of people there we knew.
My college social life was defined by this bar. I have some of my best (and worst!) memories from that time. In 2011, when I was facing an exceptionally difficult bout of depression, I took myself to Maverick’s to dance my worries away. I didn’t need the alcohol. In fact, I rarely drank anything when I went alone. But being lost in the music and gliding across the dance floor was the therapy I needed to make it through that rough time.
I met my husband on the dance floor at Maverick’s. At the time Adam was nothing more than a line dancing sailor amongst our group of regulars. We rang in the 2010 New Year together with friends at the bar. Two years later, we finally went on our first date. Adam and I went to Maverick’s multiple times throughout our courtship. We shared our first kiss in the Landing parking lot after a night of dancing. And rang in 2013 together at Maverick’s for the sake of memories.
Most recently, I celebrated my bachelorette party with my girlfriends at Maverick’s. The party felt full circle – the place I started my dating life was also the place where I ended it. Mark was my bartender. (Yep, he’s still there eight years later.) And that night I celebrated my impending marriage by dancing a quarter sized blister onto the ball of my foot. A good time was had by all.
These days, on the rare occasion that Adam and I find ourselves at Maverick’s, we realize we don’t know as many people as we used to but we still have a little bit of clout at the bar. We feel less like regulars and more like has-beens. But the bar still holds a special place in our hearts.
On Tuesday, Maverick’s announced they are rebranding as a live music venue and moving away from their identity as a country bar. Maverick’s Rockin’ Honky Tonk is now known as Maverick’s Live. And frankly, I’m a little bummed.
Maverick’s is still planning to offer line dancing nights but they will also shift to playing Top 40 music and catering to concerts. Maverick’s has spent the past eight years as the country bar in town. While other bars struggled to make a name for themselves and bring in constant business, Maverick’s was playing music and slinging drinks to a packed house every weekend.
But times are changing. The live music scene is booming with the rebirth of downtown Jacksonville and Maverick’s wants in on the action. I can’t blame them for making smart business decisions and I understand the monetary value in rebranding.
But forgive me as I mourn the official end of my college years.
These days my boot scootin’ is more like a slow two-step but I will definitely miss the nights of finally nailing all the moves to the newest line dance, drinking mason jars full of some fruity concoction, and singing at the top of my lungs in the middle of the dance floor with my closest friends. Those were the good times.
I can’t say that our time at Maverick’s is officially through. I’m actually really excited to attend the Yellowcard concert there in a couple of weeks. But it looks like we might have to find another venue for our occasional line dance outings.
Thanks for the memories (and the husband!), Maverick’s Rockin’ Honky Tonk. And good luck in your new beginning as Maverick’s Live.