Hair Balls was prepared for an evening of stale beer and possibly mullets at this weekend's opening party for the new Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge in the Houston Pavilion. Then we noticed a small warning at the bottom of the invitation: "dress code enforced."
Our confusion mounted as we climbed to the Pavilion's third floor to find a mile-long line of overly groomed folks dressed in things like suits and sultry dresses, along with an unsettling amount of chest hair popping out from button-down shirts and even blazers. This was, quite obviously, not a typical bowling crowd -- a sentiment that was only reinforced when a confused bouncer initially failed to recognize the importance of our press credentials and forced us to join the procession.
"What are you doing here?" someone asked the middle-aged man behind us in line, who was wearing fancy shoes, designer jeans and a purple, floral-patterned shirt that he had neglected to properly button.
"Gettin' my bowl on, I hope," the man replied, before going on to discuss catching waves, his subsequent plans for disco and "late-night sushi" and the Lucky Strike locations throughout the continent that he has visited in the past.
"I told Jodi in my email, we like the Lucky Strike," he said. "You bowl Lucky Strike, you're gonna be shellin' it out."
Photo by Mike Giglio
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"The lane-to-lounge area is severely off," observed one slightly intoxicated young lady, who would agree to be identified only by her bowling score, which was 73. "It's more like a bar with some lanes."
This seemed exactly what the clientele was looking for. There was an open bar and free food, and the sprawling place was packed with yuppies well past its planned 10 p.m. close. The line also stretched on outside well into the night -- "This is a new experience, yes," the woman at the very end, April Kyle, informed us at one point.
"Lots of boobs," said attractive twenty-something Dana Wolf as the night wore on, in reference to the many ladies who had arrived in their finest evening wear. She then looked around to notice that, like any center-city club -- or bowling alley, for that matter -- the proportion of them was sinking fast as closing time neared.
"Lots of dudes, too."