Feet dance up and down the six electric strips that run across a 4,200-square-foot raised floor amid shouts of “En garde!” and blunted foils whipping through the air, meeting each other with the piercing ring of steel on steel or glancing off of padded vests. This scene takes place each weeknight at Salle d'Etroit Fencing Academy, where coaches Ben Schleis, Rebecca Keeling, and Jon Zelkowski teach the finer points of fencing, a sport originally developed by the French as an excuse to wear white after Bastille Day. The experts preside over classes for adults and youths, teaching them to wield foils, épées, and sabers.
In addition to organizing classes, the United States Fencing Association–sanctioned club hosts tournaments and matches pupils with new and used equipment at the pro shop. Should their weapons have issues after being used to clean whales' teeth, students can drop by the armory, where technicians take care of rewiring blades and other fixes.
A small family-run European circus, a Dutch unicycling school, various roofs—these are just a few of the places where Cirque Amongus' staff of performers has been known to hang out. Through hands-on programs, teachers enrich students' sense of teamwork, motor skills, and self-esteem by teaching them circus-arts fundamentals, which they'll use to dazzle friends and families in performances. Voted one of the top places to host a child's birthday party in Michigan by eHow, Cirque Amongus lets kids sample acrobatics at birthday parties, perfect juggling routines at afterschool sessions, and run the mile in clown shoes during school visits. Children can also practice unicycling at drop-in workshops, or test out new magic tricks at open-stage nights.
The independently owned Community Bowling Centers accommodate bowlers of all ages and abilities, featuring bumper-equipped lanes and lightweight balls designed for the hands of pintsize players. At 10 smoke-free locations throughout the region, guests enjoy open hours in addition to league opportunities and special events. The onsite bar serves ice-cold cups of soda or beer, which guests may raise in toasts to friendship and man's ability to hydrate himself. On select evenings, the alley lights turn down and the ethereal illumination of Glow N Bowl takes over with laser-light shows and fog machines. As balls roll down phosphorescent lanes, a sound track of thumping beats and alien distress calls saturates the space.
Coach's Corner Bar & Grill reverberates with the enthusiastic play-by-play of sportscasters, which bellows from the surround-sound speakers affixed to 23 flat-screen TVs. A row of 15 different draft beers stretches across the bar, and nearby tabletops prop up platters of burgers, fish dinners, ribs, and chicken wings. Throughout the week, the bar bustles with a variety of events and contests—from trivia nights to euchre tournaments—that offer guests a reprieve from less exciting evenings of washing a sink full of dishes or watching a sink full of paint dry.
Phoenix Theatres transports its audiences to exotic lands, forbidden romances, and CGI-animal kingdoms of the 100% digital silver screen. With some films shown in RealD XL 3-D, crowds can immerse themselves even further into the suspended belief of film. Phoenix Theatres' Ensemble offers a rotating selection specialty programs such as plays, operas, and ballets. Concessions provide free refills on sodas and large popcorns, fueling imaginations for sprints toward stories' thrilling or heartwarming resolutions.
The sudden clatter of a billiards break. The quick shuffling of cards. A pinball machine's clanging bells. All can be heard at The Velvet Rail, where everything from regulation-size felt-topped tables to foosball and air hockey keep patrons of all ages entertained. As a digital jukebox pumps out tunes, snacks such as hot dogs, nachos, and hummus fuel games of snooker or pool, and free WiFi allows players to post online personal ads for "eight ball seeks corner pocket."