Bowling in Commerce

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Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $10.98 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (up to a $4.79 value).

9118 Balboa Blvd
Northridge,
CA
US

It may seem odd to find a bowling alley on the busy corridor of Lincoln Blvd that leads to hulking Los Angeles International Airport, but the AMF El Dorado Lanes is normally chock full of locals and recreational league bowlers looking to get their fix. Inside, the space is a 60s retro-lover’s dream, complete with loud tonal accents, a couple of pool tables and some dusty arcade games. Anyone not in the bowling mood can belly up to the sports bar in the back, or take in some casual American food from the attached eatery, which comes complete with a private room for any birthday party needs. For everyone else, it’s all about the lanes – 32 of them in fact, with El Dorado Lanes being billed as an official PBA Practice Center. Various leagues call the alley their home, and a pro shop sells balls and assorted gear.

8731 Lincoln Blvd
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Bowlers lounge at the end of 22 glossy lanes that stretch across the floor at All Star Lanes. Each lane tracks their games with the automatic scorers, meaning players can leave their abaci at home. Post-frame, bowlers can head to the lounge for drinks and snacks while watching games displayed on nine televisions. Those seeking sit-down sustenance relax in the on-site restaurant, which serves hearty American, Chinese, and Mexican dishes. All Star Lanes was also recently featured in Pharrell Williams' music video for "Happy", a 24-hour music video in which he dances through the bowling alley at 11 p.m.

4459 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Bowling isn’t just a hobby at 300 New York—it’s a vibrant social experience worthy of luxurious flourishes. That’s why cushioned lounge seats flank each of the 32 mood-lit lanes in the main concourse area. Each of these lanes faces a large screen that flashes music videos and tutorials on how to remove stuck fingers from bowling balls. Up in The Loft, bowlers can lounge and take in views of the concourse while sipping cocktails from the full-service bar. A dedicated wait staff connects them to offerings from the onsite bar and restaurant—an eatery known for serving dishes from executive chef Chad Bowser’s menu. Some of Chad’s creations include two-bite chicken or beef sliders and hand-battered fried calamari that can be paired with anything from beer to specialty martinis.

3545 E Foothill Blvd
Pasadena,
CA
US

Strike seekers of all ages can perfect their delivery inside a 24-lane facility that boasts late-night hours as well as a drink- and dish-slinging bar. Quartets of pin punishers can slip on pairs of multicolored moonwalkers and enjoy 60 minutes of bowling bliss. After entering alter-ego aliases into the computerized scoring system, hurlers can settle into the lanes' lounge-like booths and sketch their game strategies. Optional bumpers keep the scoring-impaired from experiencing life in the gutter, and bowlers can perform celebratory dances on the recently refinished floors instead of atop cars parked outside.

135 S Glendale Ave
Glendale,
CA
US

The score is tied 14-14. Only one more point is needed to win the match. The last player up takes a deep breath and gently rolls her bocce ball toward the small palina, the sphere that marks the target during each set. As her bocce ball softly knocks away a rival team's ball and comes to rest mere millimeters from the palina, she finally exhales, raising her arms to accept the onslaught of high-fives from her teammates and the congratulatory handshakes from the other team. Together, both teams adjourn to a local pub for drink and dinner specials that usually end with the construction of a solar-system diorama made from bocce balls and tater tots.

So goes another game of bocce in the Cali Bocce League, a highly social conglomerate of all ages, genders, and athletic abilities. Teams of 5–12 people take to local parks throughout eight-week seasons that conclude with playoff games. In addition to a trophy, gift certificates, and free admission to next season, playoff winners glean a prestigious 2-liter glass known as Das Boot, filled to the brim with beer or liquefied palinas. Occasional game cancellations due to inclement weather are posted online on Cali Bocce League’s Facebook page.

11455 Magnolia Boulevard
Los Angeles,
CA
US