Chris Jones’ blue Indianapolis Colts jersey turned green when he bowled Saturday night. He wasn’t switching allegiance from his hometown NFL team to the Green Bay Packers; he was letting balls roll while cosmic bowling.
Finishing his 10th game that evening at Surfside Bowl Entertainment Center in Surfside Beach, the hair stylist by day from Myrtle Beach said he was picking up some practice at a sport he hadn’t played regularly in a decade.
Four bowling alleys on the Grand Strand turn down the lights and crank up the colors and music for cosmic, or glow, bowling, on Friday and Saturday nights. Frank Theatres’ Revolutions Entertainment, at Inlet Square in Murrells Inlet, does it nightly. With all-you-can-bowl rates, the games take on a more easygoing, less competitive tone, too, all for fun and quality time.
In the Surfside Bowl building, white shoes looked orange under the black lights, but everything blended under disco balls, running runway lights on the lanes, and the music cranked, adding more elements to entertain for open bowling. Nothing ran afoul, either, with a little dancing, or shaking one’s hips, before letting go of a ball, in front of the foul line.
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Seven video screens above the line of the 32 lanes showed the same videos simultaneously from various genres, such as Marcia Griffiths’ “Electric Slide,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” Kenny Loggins” Footloose” and the late Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
“I love it,” Jones said, touching his rosin bag with his left hand in between each ball.
Remembering both of his parents’ depth in league bowling, Jones said he wants to get back in the groove on the alleyways. After a workday at Sam’s Unisex Barber Shop in Myrtle Beach, a night of bowling solo let him unwind and “relax for a little bit,” even with the various one-pin spares he strove to nail.
‘Date night out’
A few lanes over, a Canadian couple scored double time on vacation as their children spent the evening with their grandparents where the family rented condo space in North Myrtle Beach.
Grant and Shelley Brevitt of Thorold, Ontario, south of St. Catharines, spread their night out with three games.
“It’s our date night,” Shelley Brevitt said.
Her husband said they bowled frequently before parenthood, so this leisurely outing let them reconnect with memories. She said they worked different shifts at the time, but they would always find a bowling alley open late night to catch up and share time together.
Carter Reid, assistant manager at Surfside Bowl’ sister entity, Little River Lanes, said cosmic bowling has been a staple there for all its years, approaching about 30. Although the crowds for these weekend nights vary throughout the year, they draw “mostly younger people” during the academic year.
Still, older audiences lace up the shoes to glow bowl.
“They’re regulars on Fridays,” Reid said. “That’s what they do.”
He thinks just the nighttime element, coupled with louder music and lights, keeps people coming back for this form of recreation.
“It’s more so the time of night than the price,” Reid said.
Nikki McDaniel, manager for marketing and youth activities at Waccamaw Bowling Center, just west of Myrtle Beach, said cosmic bowling on remained on the menu at least as long as the 17 years she has helped out in the family business.
‘More eclectic crowd’
The lights of nighttime bowling lure regulars, as well as random players, which together also make up a “more eclectic crowd,” she said.
Carving out three hours on Saturday afternoons for families and birthday parties to glow bowl also has landed strikes in popularity, McDaniel said, especially with the bowling business peak seasons spanning fall and winter.
“You have all the neon lights and the strobe lights,” McDaniel said. “The music is blasting.”
At Surfside Bowl, before starting his 11th game, Jones joked that as he works to reclaim his touch with bowling, the cosmic nights, “No one can see me, and I can’t get embarrassed.”
Nevertheless, Jones will keep his eye on his prize, day or night.
“I’ll keep practicing to get that 300 game,” he said.