The Milwaukee Debate League trains students for rigorous academic debate to help them strengthen their mental faculties and improve their self-esteem. Completing research in preparation for debates informs them about the world, and engaging in debates with their peers builds communication skills that translate to future careers. The centerpiece of the program, seven citywide debate tournaments, pits students against other teams to debate a specific policy topic and share their ideas about social issues. The Milwaukee Debate League also hosts other opportunities for students to learn research and articulation skills, including a summer institute, a leadership council, and the MDL Scholars Program, which engages high-school students in high-level research at Marquette University. Following a period of declining participation, the Milwaukee Debate League relaunched in 2011 and now works with 14 high schools in the area.
Amid Centercourt’s 14,000-square-foot hardwood haven, people entertain their eyeballs with 20 flat-screen TVs, their ears with frequent live music, and their taste buds with a hearty spread of pub grub and brews. Centercourt fields a full team of wines and spirits, in addition to the 16 on-tap offerings and 30+ bottled beers awaiting their release. Sports enthusiasts can create an edible lineup with build-your-own sandwiches or Hobo fries (spud spears smothered in cheese and beef gravy; $4.95)—an appetizer that can be customized with bacon, chicken, or steak (up to $3.95 each). For a meal as light as a globetrotting eccentric’s hot air balloon, there are salads ($3.95–$9.95) and a roasted-vegetable wrap ($8.95).
At Underwater Connection, southeast Wisconsin’s only PADI five-star instructor-training center, an award-winning course director and a team of skilled instructors educate both undersea novices and emergency-service professionals in the art of scuba diving. Following safe, low-stress basic diving courses in a pool, teachers and students move to the open water to cover techniques that include rebreathing, underwater videography, and recovering toy-boat wrecks from flooded bathtubs. Underwater Connection provides all equipment for classes, relying on its factory-trained equipment mechanics and Aqualung Master Technician, who refill tanks and do in-house repairs on gear from brands such as Dive Rite, Poseidon, Oceanic, Aqua Lung, and Scubapro.
Throughout the week, Country Lanes offers open bowling hours and league opportunities for bowlers of all skill levels. In addition to indoor lanes, the alley welcomes outdoor revelers with courts for sand volleyball and horseshoes. The outdoor tiki bar keeps carousers stocked with cocktails and draft brews, and an indoor grill fires sandwiches, pizzas, and appetizers such as wonton wraps. A banquet hall is available for parties, and a teen glow-bowl league takes place on Fridays through the summer, allowing bioluminescent youngsters to bowl in their natural environment.
Every night the notes of renowned jazz, blues, and R&B performers echo through the glimmering walls of 88 Keys Piano Martini Lounge, where martinis and small plates meet beneath mood-setting blue lights in West Allis’s downtown stretch. The relaxed spot was conceived by co-owners Greg Barczak and Suzy Ball who, as West Allis Now reporter Mark Schaaf notes, “hope the city is turning a corner and want to make something more of the downtown” by attracting a younger crowd and lending the area an intimate, upscale nightlife option.
Inside the low-lit lounge, glass windows open and close to bathe guests and performers in a cooling breeze. Artwork and Wisconsin gangster memorabilia, including John Dillinger photographs and high-school report cards, beam down upon pots of fondue and gourmet pizzas. Behind the glowing bar, master mixologists blend a lengthy list of 28 specialty martinis and fill glasses with wine and beer.