Sure, she’ll be impressed when you bring her out for a couple drinks and a taco, but she’ll be downright awestruck when you survive more than 10 seconds in the arena with a raging bull after dinner — it’s a guaranteed icebreaker that’s now available in Williamsburg.
Viva Toro, a massive bar and restaurant that just opened on Berry Street, installed the borough’s sole mechanical bull, and you can saddle up for free. It’s a wild ride — daring enough that you have to sign an injury release form — that’s garnered so much attention, people from as far and wide as Manhattan are braving the L train for their shot at straddling glory.
Upper West Sider Julia Davis said that survival is all about having strong thighs and willpower.
“I have a lot of both, so I think I might rock the bull,” Davis said. “It’s high time that Brooklyn got it’s own robotic steed.”
The bull, which bartenders called “Michelle,” is covered with padding and sits atop a thick inflatable stage inside the double-decker bar near North Fourth Street. But don’t be fooled by her indifferent gaze — this cow’s got some kick. The operator can change its speed and buck intensity at any time, inevitably leaving its rider with a bruised dignity that only another tequila can repair.
Michelle’s installation marks a historic moment for Brooklyn and the whole of the entertainment world. Versions of the beast have encircled Kings County for decades — some claim that the first mechanical bull was introduced to train rodeo cowboys in New Jersey circa 1930 — but not in decades have Brooklynites been able to taste its torso-bending splendor.
Still, there are plenty of theories surrounding the robo-bull’s origins.
“It depends on what you call ‘mechanical,’” said Robin Whincup, owner of the Florida-based Rodeo Bull Company, which manufactures the machines. “Some of the early ones were barrels fastened to a spring. The first motorized ones were, I believe, from the 1950s or ’60s.”
Back then, the training apparatuses were “very aggressive and potentially dangerous,” until they became an entertainment product. Whincup said that he still sells most of his machines to rental companies, but that bulls are making it big in the bar scene.
“[Bulls] put some of these bars on the map — they always put 20 to 30 percent on the bar take instantly,” he said. “For every 100 people in the room, there’s 25 who are brave enough or stupid enough to get on and ride.”
Oh, and Whincup confirmed that a couple shots of tequila can help with skill — or at least ego.
But when you’re not making a fool of yourself, you can enjoy the Viva Toro’s ice-cold taps (they’ve got Negra Modelo!) or extensive Mexican fare, including huge tacos ($9), fajitas ($14-16) and skirt steak ($17).
Viva Toro (188 Berry St. at North Fourth Street in Williamsburg. No phone).
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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