On Saturday nights at Channahon Lanes and Riverfront Lanes, the lights turn down and the music turns up as colored lights flash on the lanes. This weekly event is called Rock It Bowl and lends both bowling alleys the lively feel of a nightclub or the bedroom of a kid who's really afraid of the dark. Bumpers can be called into action on any lane, and even during the day, the clatter of pins is backdropped by music. Between frames, grownups can escape to the bar for a brew and kids can make their way to the video games in the arcade.
Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
If you've been bowling in Chicago, chances are pretty good you've been to a Chicagoland Bowling establishment. With member centers from 3700 N. Western to 12345 S. Halsted, 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.
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 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (a $3.99 value).
Unlike most activities, bowling rewards you for knocking things over. Guests knock things over nightly at these indoor recreation centers in the south suburbs and DeKalb. Bowling lanes at all three locations facilitate relaxed family nights with automatic scoring and bumper options for groups playing with small children. Friday and Saturday nights, the lights dim for more glamorous glow bowling. Fog machines billow mist across the ground as laser and disco lights cast colorful patterns through the air. Every night after close, Kegel Kustodian machines brush over each lane to ensure consistent conditions for the next day of playing.
Each spot also keeps famished players satisfied with sandwiches, pizzas, and appetizers served at an onsite restaurant. The Burr Oak location entertains numerous galas at a 100-guest banquet hall, and in Oak Forest, the goods times move outdoors for summertime volleyball and bean-bag tossing at The Park.
Every day of the week, Lisle Lanes rumbles as bowling balls collide with pins on 32 lanes. The facility remains a constant hive of activity, spreading competition across a combination of leagues, tournaments, parties, and pickup games. When they’re not secretly filling an opponent’s ball with cake frosting in between frames, players keep busy by visiting the onsite pro shop or the Kingpin Grille, stocked with freshly made pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers. They can also visit the alley’s game room or lounge for additional doses of recreation.