Bowling has always been an iconic American “sport” (I optimistically filed this under “Be Active” which shows how much “sport” I’ve been doing lately). It was idolised and glamorised in The Big Lebowski, Kingpin and, ahem, Grease 2…
“We’re gonna sco-o-ore tonight…”
But it was never such a cool thing in the UK. Mostly, you spent your teens in out-of-town “leisure complexes” where you could watch a film, go to a terrible Weatherspoons and then finish up with a box of greasy Nachos and 10 pints in Megabowl before your mum came to pick you up.
London has bucked this trend with the advent of Bloomsbury Bowling and All Star Lanes. Both offer bars, cocktails, great music and DJs, and snazzy bowling lanes filled with cool young things trying to carry off the latest trends alongside bowling shoes. I don’t know any other town in the UK which has retro-chic bowling as a socialising option, so we should take advantage of it.
I’ve been to the All Star Lanes in Brick Lane a few times and it’s great. Excellent music (they played The Band hurrah!), great cocktails – although wine is my bowling tipple of choice, and American retro food. This is posh bowling at its poshest – squeaky clean, private lanes and East end trendies. Still stinky bowling shoes though, eh?
Bloomsbury Bowling is slightly more rough around the edges but I like that. It has a great bar and good cocktails, fun mixed crowd, but also karaoke booths, a dance floor and DJ (on the night I was there it was all hip hop and r’n’b – Express Yourself by NWA, Missy Elliot, Fugees, Wiley, Eminem, Michael Jackson etc) and outside graffiti-covered smoking terrace.
You have probably forgotten what a good night out bowling is unless you’ve been recently. Everyone gets nicely tipsy, those who do well revert to their inner show-off and start doing terrible American-style post-stttriiiiiike dance routines, boys get competitive and girls even more so, someone will always have a hilarious exaggerated bowling style featuring the post-bowl leg curl, couples slag each other off, everyone giggles at being in bowling shoes. Its brilliant fun and at Bloomsbury Bowling you can have a little dance afterwards (or a long dance if you’re us – I hadn’t done the “running man” for years).
A normal Thursday night for a hotdog about town…
Even better – when we were there we shared the lanes with the entire cast of the West End musical Sister Act who were all bowling as different countries (see photos – how much fun does that look?!). I’m definitely going back with a big group of friends to celebrate something or other and I’d recommend it for a fun post-work night out.
We used the http://www.mycitydeal.co.uk voucher and paid £12 for one hour’s use of a bowling lane for 6 people. The normal cost is £36 and you can also hire the karaoke room for £40 an hour for a minimum of two hours.