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Monday, July 7, 2008

Bowling Alone

posted by on July 7 at 14:53 PM


I took this picture—these two pictures, actually, slapped together into one image—after we arrived at Imperial Lanes off Rainier on Saturday afternoon. That’s our car there in the otherwise empty parking lot. It was the day after the July 4th holiday, kinda chilly and overcast outside, and we left the house worried that Imperial Lanes might be packed—seeing, again, as it was Saturday afternoon, overcast, chilly, etc. But we had the place—inside and out—pretty much all to ourselves.

You know, Seattle, it’s not enough to mourn the passing of our allegedly beloved bowling alleys. We actually have to patronize the few we’ve got left if we want them to survive.

I bowled a 165. Not great, but not bad for me.

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Well, and said bowling alleys have to actually be in a location that permits the existence of a commercial enterprise that makes less money than condos. The parking lot at the Sunset Bowl was NEVER that empty.

Posted by leek | July 7, 2008 2:59 PM

in a bowling alley that empty the only logical thing to do is bowl one frame on every lane.

I really wanted to do that at Sunset, granted I went there enough that I probably did bowl on every lane but not right down the line starting at one.

Posted by Little Red Ryan Hood | July 7, 2008 3:12 PM

Um, everybody in the entire city was out of town this weekend, Dan. Imperial Lanes' customer base were all out riding jet skis or dirt bikes somewhere.

Take a picture next Saturday afternoon and see what it looks like.

Sunset Bowl (and Leilani before it) were absolutely at capacity almost all day and night when they were shuttered.

Posted by Fnarf | July 7, 2008 3:14 PM

Will do, Fnarf.

Posted by Dan Savage | July 7, 2008 3:16 PM

In the immortal words of Cher: Sooner or later, we all bowl alone.

Posted by Explorer | July 7, 2008 3:19 PM

The Rose Bowl on Road 3 in New Castle, IN, was where it was AT. We spent hours in that smoky place bowling and playing video games. Sigh. Thank goodness it's still there.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | July 7, 2008 3:23 PM

Better yet, Dan, after your Saturday frames, go hang out in the bar for a few more hours. That is one entertaining bar. The drinks are terrible but the patrons are hilarious. You might even get to see some fights, or a guy fall down and not be able to get up again, and have to be helped to his car.

Posted by Fnarf | July 7, 2008 3:33 PM

I keep getting mixed signals in regards to Seattleites and bowling.

One minute, I'll hear, "Bowling is such a hick, midwestern sport. No one here does it. We have farmers markets."

The next minute, I'll hear, "Bowling was invented in Seattle. I bowl every night. I love hipsters!"

But, it's good to know there are still fun bowling venues around here, despite the mixed signals. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by James | July 7, 2008 3:39 PM

One dubious upside to all the bowling alley closures: it gets us into neighborhoods we don't usually visit. I went to West Seattle Bowl for the first time this weekend and thought it was great - check it out if you haven't been there.

Posted by hillside_hoyden | July 7, 2008 3:40 PM

@8: Bowling is not a sport. Bowling is a game, and a fun one.

Posted by Greg | July 7, 2008 3:43 PM

The Garage is still building out that adjacent parking log space with more lanes, yes?

Posted by Anon | July 7, 2008 3:45 PM

The hipsters would rather got to places like the garage,

Try Imperial Lanes at night. Different experience.

Posted by elswinger | July 7, 2008 4:02 PM

That place is allll right!
I used to work grave yard at the Four Seasons and a few of us got off at 7AM. Not much to do at that time so one gal flipped thru the yellow pages and said how about bowling! we phoned to see if they were open. The manager said he was there early and would open for us. We went and he even served us beers! It became a weekly thing until I got off grave yard.

Posted by irl | July 7, 2008 4:10 PM

James @8, I've never heard either of those "messages" from anyone in Seattle. I've heard "I love to bowl, but they're tearing down my lanes", though. I've never heard it called "hick".

Posted by Fnarf | July 7, 2008 4:11 PM

oh yeah, another cool thing about that place, about 9 AM a school for special needs kids came in and they'd bowl.
The place had a special rack they'd set up for the kids in wheel chairs so they could put the ball on it then give it a push. It was pretty neat to see those kids get such a kick out of that.

Posted by irl | July 7, 2008 4:13 PM

@10 -- a sport is an activty that requires exertion and competition.

Bowling is a game and a sport, like footbal or baseball.

OTOH, poker ain't a sport.

Posted by Hartiepie | July 7, 2008 4:13 PM


If the hipsters start bowling in Cal Anderson park, then you'll know which game has jumped the shark.

Posted by Jeff Stevens | July 7, 2008 5:09 PM

Exactly. Both Sunset and Leilani were always packed on weekends, not only with drivers of cars filling their parking lots, but also with all of those of us who could walk (or stumble) to them when the whim hit us after a few beers. I definitely would go to a bowling alley I could walk to. If I have to drive all the way to Renton and track it down (cuz I don't know where sit in Renton is) I surely am not going bowling.

Posted by Bella | July 7, 2008 5:31 PM

Bella dear, Imperial Lanes is not in Renton. It's at 22rd and Hill, in the North Beacon Hill/Rainier Valley area. South of I-90, but north of Lowes.

If you continue down Rainier, turn off at 51st Avenue South, Turn left at Renton Avenue, and head out towards Renton, you will also find the Skyway Lanes. If you hit downtown Skyway, you've gone too far.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | July 7, 2008 9:19 PM

Fnarf @14:

A friend just e-mailed me to remind me:

"James, they only call it 'hick' when they're talking to a midwesterner or southerner, like you."

Ah, the west coast! :-)

Posted by James | July 7, 2008 9:32 PM


YOU DRIVE AN SUV!!???!!!???!!!

What a total phucktard!!!!

Posted by ecce homo | July 7, 2008 9:35 PM

That's not an SUV, you phucking idiot. It's a hatchback. Looks like a friggin' Aveo from here, but it's probably not. You're as stupid as Will in Seattle.

Catalina, if you hit downtown Skyway, you've left the solar system. Skyway doesn't have a downtown, does it? I think the bowling alley might be it.

Posted by Fnarf | July 7, 2008 10:37 PM

Hipsters don't like that place as it is not white enough for them.

PS- Up on Freakin' Beacon we call it PIMPerial Lanes.

Posted by Scott Dow | July 8, 2008 12:35 AM

Fnarf, Skyway had a very thriving (for Skyway) downtown until the Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart went in. It was on Renton Avenue, about 1/2 mile south of the bowling alley.

There also used to be a great St. Vincent de Paul behind the bowling alley, but why live in the past?

Chez Vel-DuRay is just up the road from Imperial Lanes. I can see its distinctive roof from our lanai. Its especially prominent during The Blue Hour.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | July 8, 2008 6:04 AM

@16: Any goddamn game involves competition; that's not a good way to distinguish it from a sport.

Now if bowling actually required any physical exertion, which it does not, it might legitimately be considered a sport. However, bowling (like golf, which is also not a sport) requires only fine motor skill. A child can throw the ball hard enough to knock over pins. Bowling is no more a sport than darts.

For comparison, let's look at actual sports - soccer, football, baseball, tennis, rugby, swimming, running, water polo, etc. What does the average swimmer look like? Would you say he is in better shape than the average bowler? Why is that? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that swimming is a real sport and bowling is not. Bowling is a game.

Posted by Greg | July 8, 2008 9:32 AM

If bowling isn't a sport, then why is my arm sore the day after a few games?

Catalina, I didn't realize that strip was even IN Skyway. There was a branch of Golden Oldies there once upon a time, if I'm thinking of the right place.

Posted by Fnarf | July 8, 2008 11:33 AM

That's my boyfriend's car. I don't drive.

Posted by Dan Savage | July 8, 2008 2:48 PM

Haha, thanks Catalina, I have no idea, because like I said, I seriously doubt I'd bother going to a bowling alley if I had to drive there, and that's definitely still not walking distance! I've lived close enough to both Leilani and Sunset to practically fall inside them while crossing the street on my way home, therefore I have been to both many times. I miss both places. But not simply for the sake of bowling, more for the fact that they were always a part of my 'hood, a place to hang out where there was something to do if you felt so inclined.

Posted by Bella | July 8, 2008 4:36 PM


You might like this book:

by Robert D. Putnam

Posted by twitterpaters | July 8, 2008 8:48 PM

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