While lanes are available seven days a week at Timber Lanes, on Sunday mornings as well Friday evenings, 24 candlepin lanes glow under the colorful hues of cosmic lights. Subwoofers pulsate with popular music, and video screens display music videos that play in sync with the rhythm, causing pins to burst out into spontaneous break dancing. And when the alley's not hopping with cosmic excitement, it hosts leagues for children and adults and enchants bowlers of all ages with the classic melodies that swim through the air during moonlight oldies sessions on Saturday nights.
Of the 48 lanes inside Kingston Ten Pin, only 16 actually have the traditional 10-pins. The remaining 32 are part of Alley Kat Lane, a candlepin bowling facility where bowlers roll smaller balls toward clusters of skinnier pins. Both types of lane host leagues of more advanced players, as well as provide bumpers for beginners. Every Saturday night, all 48 lanes go dark for Rock N' Bowl, where pins topple over amidst thumping Top 40 hits and luminescent black and disco lights. After games, bowlers can visit the pro shop, head to the arcade from some video games, or grab some food or refreshments from the alcohol-stocked snack bar.
Though Westgate Lanes has been open for more than half a century, you'd never know it from just looking at the Brockton institution, which benefited from a pre-Millennium face-lift in 1999. Today, all 62 lanes feature automatic scoring, new furniture, and modern lighting, which casts a celestial aura during prize-packed cosmic bowling on Saturday nights. Open 365 days a year, the facility swings open its doors to challenge sphere-flinging friends, leagues, and parties with frames of tenpin or candlepin, a variation of bowling that uses smaller balls and requires more concentration than teaching a mechanical bull long division. High-definition TVs orbit the center's 13 billiards tables, and, between competitive rounds, players can refuel fatigued fingers at Harry's Pub and Grill.
South Boston Candlepin challenges bowlers to take aim at pintsize pins during rounds of a New England–born variation on the traditional lane-based game. On the alley’s hardwood lanes, bowlers roll 2.5-pound candlepin bowling balls that lack the holes and molten centers of their 10-pin counterparts. Developed in 1880 by a Massachusetts bowling-alley owner, candlepin bowling tasks participants with dispersing crowds of pins that are thinner than standard 10-pin targets and weigh just a little more than the balls that hunt them. While honing curves and picking up spares, bowlers compete in 10-frame games until someone usurps victory or starts cooing to the tiny balls like they're infants.
Inside Kings, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of clattering sounds and uproarious cheers. The noise might stem from the bowling section, where glowing squares of abstract, retro wall art bookend the alleys. It might also come from ricocheting billiard balls, a well-aimed skee-ball, or a shuffleboard shot in the game room. Maybe someone spotted a celebrity—Bill Murray, Salma Hayek, and Lady Gaga are all on an extensive list of past famous visitors.
Wherever their origins, the telltale echoes of competition and camaraderie beckon to guests throughout the venue. They're accompanied in the air by the scents of comfort food, from staples such as sesame ginger wings to inventive fusions such as cheeseburger spring rolls. Sweeter aromas waft from multiple bars as the staff flavors martinis with gummy bears, pop rocks, and ice cream instead of the traditional fixings, olives or entire lemons on toothpicks.
As for sights, the surroundings blend vintage flair with luminous technology. More than 30 high-definition televisions line the space, broadcasting sports games and bowling scores. The Back Bay location has six Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables and hosts group events, including parties and corporate getaways where you can finally laugh at your boss's ridiculous shoes. Weekly themed nights for the public also encourage dancing, karaoke, and trivia.