Through curls of fog lit by ultraviolet light, players find vantage points to take aim at their opponents in Lazer X's bilevel, 6,500-square-foot arena. Wearing computerized vests, players blast each other with phasers while avoiding distractions caused by pulsing strobe lights, animatronic creatures, and up-tempo music that begs them to stop and do the macarena. After the game, vests tally up points, and players can review their scores on a printout that will also detail the hits they made and received. Alternately, patrons can follow-up games with a trip to the arcade where they can keep their trigger fingers in tip-top condition.
With hands gripped to the wheels of karts capable of cresting 45 miles per hour, up to 12 racers hum around the hairpin turns and straightaways of K1 Speed's indoor track during adrenaline-spiking sprints toward the podium. This brand of excitement can be found at all 20+ locations, where racers eschew the fumes and inflammatory skywriting of gas kart exhaust for European, eco-friendly electric karts designed to instantly accelerate out of curves, which are bordered by safety barriers that absorb impacts.
If you've been bowling in Chicago, chances are pretty good you've been to a Chicagoland Bowling establishment. With member centers from the north to the south, the organization connects pin destroyers all over the city. The advantages of this network include tournaments that span the entire region, scholarship programs for talented youth bowlers, and a cornucopia of options for clowns who juggle bowling pins.
A buzzing crowd gathers around the entrance of the Zoppé Family Circus tent before each performance, straining to glimpse the wooden hands of a large clock that displays the next showtime. When the moment is nearly at hand, members of the family emerge from the cavernous tent to greet their guests. As they introduce their siblings, spouses, and children, an accordion exhales melodies first heard in 1842, when Napoline and Ermenegilda Zoppé traveled from Budapest to Venice for their first show.
Inside the tent, Napoline and Ermenegilda’s descendants effortlessly balance on wires and swing from trapezes. Just below their aerial stage, horses trot around a sawdust ring as equestrian ballerinas display a brand of showmanship worthy of comparison to John Wayne's performance in The Lone Leotard. Between acts, Giovanni Zoppé takes on the persona of Nino the clown—a lovable character whose earnest efforts to steal the show are thwarted by his own buffoonery.
Nova Lounge's chefs load half-pound burger patties with six types of eclectic toppings while bartenders fill steins with eight bubbly draft beers. On the menu, the Inferno burger ($9) stokes oral furnaces with spicy chipotle and jalapeno peppers, pepper jack cheese, and pico de gallo chopped with a set of knives once owned by the Greek god Hephaestus. A breakfast club burger stuffed with bacon and eggs ($9) keeps morning meals up past their bedtime, while the jet-setting Geneva burger invites sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese ($9) to ride the rollercoasters of diners’ digestive systems. Draft beers such as Miller Light, Guinness, and Blue Moon balance the burgers’ zesty proclivities with cool temperatures and teams of tiny bubbles certified in tastebud massage.
Choosing canvases, signs, or wineglasses to brush and decorate, groups of visitors to The Painted Party gather around tables for BYOB painting classes. At the behest of an experienced art instructor, each painter daubs, blends, and Jackson Pollocks their canvases, following a series of easy-to-follow directives. They can take the resulting work of art home at the close of class.