It's Friday night in the City of Trees, and I must break away from the downtown grid. The thunk-thunk-crash of bowling balls calls my name and after a short drive down State Street, I find the source of the call. The Gaslight Lounge, a bowlers' bar attached to 20th Century Lanes with perhaps the coolest barstools you'll ever find, beckons the 10-pinned-challenged (except on Fridays, when crooners sing everything from gospel to Aerosmith, competing with the staccato of pins falling just a short distance away down the lanes).
Inside the bar, vocalists of the karaoke variety challenge themselves with notes they may have only hit once or twice in their lives. But it doesn't matter much, the spirits soothe the ears and make it tolerable. Beer in a mason mug and cocktails in a plastic cup are served by a not-too-talkative 'tender, but one who has a clear command of her domain. At this blue-collar bar, fancy drinks aren't often asked for.
This particular evening, I arrive to find a friend searching the song list for tunes. She belts out a nice rendition of Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" and others try out their vocal chords before a karaoke competition kicks off at 10 p.m. I swivel on the stools, avoiding eye contact with the singers when they hit a sour note. Another friend arrives with a pack of boys and I decide to slip on a pair of thirteens and join them for a game. You know what they say about guys with big feet, right? Big shoes.
I periodically return to the bar when either, a) my glass gets dangerously low, or b) I check in on my friend awaiting her turn at the mic. My game does get slightly better, likely due to a looser throw or perhaps an attention to more finesse over power. Perhaps I just feel better about my game after a few beverages.
Darkespecially on disco nightsinteresting and full of characters, the Gaslight Lounge is a resting stop not only for in-between game rests. It's a non-bowler's bar delight. And while you're there, whether you're a bowler or not, don't forget to go out into the lanes and feel the balls.
Gaslight Lounge at 20th Century Lanes, 4712 W. State St., 342-8695