While Center Bowl’s neon marquee has retained its vintage look for over 50 years, the bowling alley's modern innards include 30 updated Brunswick synthetic lanes with touchscreen scoring and automated gutter guards. The lights go dim on weekend nights for neon-bowling sessions, during which bowling balls and toothpaste stains glow in the dark. Between frames, bowlers can refuel at the concessions stand, which doles out pizza, wings, soft drinks, and beer.
At Jewel Lake, home to Professional Bowlers Association Masters winner Sean Rash, armies of pins stand ready to fall as posses of patrons hurl spheres down its friction-fighting lanes. A little friendly competition breaks the ice in any potentially awkward social situation, from introducing significant others to parents to accidentally releasing a ball backward at a group of coworkers. During extreme bowling, a live DJ serenades strikes and spares on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons as kickball teams and troupes of toddlers hone their skills beneath black lights that illuminate futuristic light shows and lingering fog. Although not included in today's Groupon, groups can fuel pin knockouts at the alley's café or peruse the pro shop for bags, gloves, or prank bowling balls that double as Chinese finger traps.
The thud of well-aimed balls precedes the satisfying crack of crashing pins, a sound that signifies victory for competitors spread across North Bowl's family-friendly lanes. A retreat for seasoned and novice bowlers alike, the alley keeps competitions balanced with lightweight balls and bumper lanes available upon request. Booming music and flashing disco lights herald a shift from open bowling to neon bowling—special sessions on Fridays and Saturdays when athletes face off or dance off in a nightclub atmosphere. Parties and leagues bond bowlers of all ages via lively recreation, and fundraisers enlist the sport to benefit worthy causes. On-site snacks and libations fuel sporty endeavors until closing time or the nachos gain self-awareness.