Drink, Play, Bowl?
I have to admit to a degree of scepticism when I was told about The Standard Bowl, Surry Hills’ new bowling-alley/bar/music venue. Sometimes combining inherently awesome things can create something exponentially awesome (e.g. cronuts) but other times there’s a strong argument for not messing with the natural order of things that were doing just fine on their own (e.g. vegemite-flavoured Kraft singles).
But as soon as you arrive, you realise very quickly: This just works.
Throw out your bowling alley clichés – the bad lighting, the questionable (and daggy) shoes, the polished pine floorboards. Instead, think split-level warehouse with a forbidden-playground vibe, giant retro murals, a huge bar area in the middle (equipped with beer pulley to reach the pool table and arcade game area up top), a mini glam-rock stage and, of course, four bowling lanes spread along the back wall.
You step inside for the first time and you’re kind of torn between wanting to do a loop of the place and getting pulled into any number of activities available to you: Should I play a game of pool? How about a round of pinball? Should I jump around with the band? What about grabbing a cocktail? Or should I do what I came here to do and bowl those pins into oblivion?
It’s a pretty sweet deal – you can bowl or watch the gig, or both, and its all for free!
The bowling process is rather civilised: You line up, you tap your details into the touch screen on the wall to record your scores, and off you go! This process, I imagine, gets more humorous as the night (and the beer) flows on. On opening night, Little Bastard country-punked the stage, providing a lively soundtrack that complimented, rather than distracted from, all the splitting and striking going on in the background.
Bombarding your patrons with too many choices and taking this smorgasbord approach to evening entertainment might seem haphazard, scattered, and against any business rhetoric that equates success with simplicity and a specialty focus. The packed-out launch party would suggest a certain method to the madness but quite frankly it proved to be just a pretty damn fun night out.
Sydney-siders are a curious bunch and might be looking for something more than to just stand around and drink – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But go on, check it out:
The Standard Bowl
Level 3, 383 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
*Words by Claire Benito.
*Photographs provided by Diamond Dozen.