Rock 'n Bowl is a combination of a bowling alley and a live band. Like Suds 'n Duds, but not.

I never saw such a good combination: bowling shoes, slick surfaces, and a swing band. $5 cover, $12 and hour per lane, $1 for shoes. Mid-City Lanes is an older, run down bowling alley that either came from the 60's or was made to look that way. The restrooms had that lounge outside of the stalls, and whenever I go in, there's always a cigarette butt in the ashtray just beginning to snuff out. The mural on the wall dividing the mens' bathrooms from the ladies' was of a baseball field with caricatures of players who had once been on a team called the Pelicans, likely named after Louisiana's state bird.

The stage where the band plays is quite small, but the dance floor is pretty much anywhere that isn't a bowling lane. I found myself dancing on the way to and from many spares and gutterballs. The over head lights for scoreboards are no longer used, and on our half of the row of alleys, the ceiling lights were out. We were in the last lane, #17, behind the stage. The seats behind the two scoreboard chairs were covered in citrus colored vinyl, with chrome circles and ashtrays inset behind them to hold beers and smokes. The jukebox, for when there wasn't a live band, had only old country and rockabilly tunes. Above it was a seemingly out-of-place el cheapo framed icon of the Virgin Mary.

Ken was enjoying the beat of the music, the slick way everyone slid across the floor. He said he had never seen people in their 60's with so much zip. Even Carson danced a little. Many college-aged kids were out there too. One guy that caught my eye was a lanky fellow over 6 feet tall, wearing the standard t-shirt-jeans-baseball-cap ensemble. The only indication that he was there to dance were the two tone black and white zoot suit shoes that ambled like lazy dominoes around this girl and that, changing partners with each song. There was also a dapper man in a black fedora, the kid of guy who had the class to hold his partner through slow dances with his palm resting above the small of her back, fingers slightly away, touching her only to hold the frame. This is my dance space. This is your dance space...

It is a neat thing to be in a place where families, older couples, and younger singles can convene in a place doing completely different things. So many times during our two games, I would watch the couples cutting it up between my turns, revived in the movement, sweating as I moved in my soft shoe shuffle nearby. Times like this almost have to be viewed from within a crumbling icon, some token seat of irony and history that, while holding to our hearts in fondness, is allowed to turn nicotene yellow in places, ceiling tiles having rotted out and replaced with off-color ones, patched and recarpeted in sections and only as needed.

On the way out and down the flight of stairs to the parking lot, we saw nailed on the wall a pair of bowling shoes supposedly having once been worn by Tom Cruise. They were a size 10. I always thought his feet were a little smaller....

In Michigan (at least in Detroit and Ann Arbor), Rock 'N Bowl is a fairly generic term used to describe a recurring event at various normal bowling alleys. On these particular nights, black lights, neon and loud dance or techno music (from the stereo, not live) are used to fill the otherwise mundane bowling alley with all the energy and excitement of a nightclub.

While I've had a lot of fun trying to bowl in the darkened, party-like atmosphere while inebriated beyond belief, the lanes were usually pretty empty during these times. I don't know if the concept hadn't caught on yet or if there really aren't many people interested in that kind of atmosphere, but the few times I've done it I thought it was a lot of fun.

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