I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published September 11th 2011
The Brooklyn Bowl is no ordinary bowling alley; in fact, few of the people who visit the vast former ironworks factory go there to bowl at all. With its amazing sound system and light show, live bands nearly every night, popular guest DJs, and tasty food, bowling is practically the last thing on your mind.
The people behind the conception and design of the Brooklyn Bowl must be live music devotees. There is simply no other way to explain how they got things just right. No matter if you've come to bowl, to eat and drink, or to just hang out and watch your friends party, you always have a fine view of the live stage. Even those who didn't pay to see the bands perform can get up close and personal with whatever stage antics are going down.
On the night we visited, Brooklyn's own folk rock crooner Langhorne Slim took the stage for an incredible set that, in the end, found many invited up on stage for dancing. After, guest DJs took over and kept people dancing for several more hours. All the while, people were bowling and enjoying the music, live show, lights, animations, and more in a dizzying, spectacular Saturday night out.
Even if you've just come to drink, extra large, overstuffed sofas abound so patrons can literally lounge about while watching the real-time monitors that document the live stage shows. The clever carnival-themed decor recalls Coney Island and is a perfect fit for the factory-to-nightclub conversion that is located in the popular Williamsburg neighborhood. And this is not a bar that has only one domestic beer on tap. The Brooklyn Bowl boasts a full-service bar that stocks everything from locally-made micro brews to a selection of finely aged whiskeys.
For those who do enjoy bowling as a recreation, the Brooklyn Bowl is absolutely dream-worthy. Those overstuffed sofas are also parked at the end of each lane so you can sit and enjoy the luxury of having your lunch, dinner, or late-night munchies brought right to your party, courtesy of the friendly wait staff. The menu, designed and catered by Blue Ribbon Restaurants, is also extensive. On it you'll not only find the usual burgers and bistro items, but a whole range of appetizers, salads, pizzas, southern-fried chicken by the plate or bucket, desserts, including cupcakes by the dozen, and entrees like slow-roasted beef brisket, baby back ribs, catfish, roast pork and sloppy joe.
With everything priced separately, you could no doubt drop a bundle here if you felt like it. However, the live shows are very moderately priced, so if you love live music, it's a fun and inexpensive night out. However, the Brooklyn Bowl is also a wonderful place for large and small parties, especially if your guests are diverse and enjoy different experiences. Those killjoys who are often found at every party would be hard-pressed to come up with complaints here. With two large bars, plenty of comfortable seating, recreational activities, a dance floor, delicious food, and more than a few areas to have private conversations that you can actually hear, the Brooklyn Bowl is capable of satisfying the most discriminating among us. We simply dare you not to have a great time.