Using “bowling” and “hip” in the same sentence was once oxymoronic, but not anymore: Bowling alleys with a retro-cool look are attracting a new generation of fans. And there are still the traditional lanes, where you can have just as much fun.
Buddy Piccolino of Rockville is active in the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association. With a game average topping 170, he has played in tournaments from Philadelphia to Chicago. He calls bowling “just an excuse to have a good time.”
You can get a group together to play at any lanes, but to join a league your best bet is to contact an alley such as AMF or Bowl America (amf.com or bowl-america.com for locations). Many alleys—except for trendy ones such as Lucky Strike Lanes (701 Seventh St., NW; 202-347-1021; bowlluckystrike.com) and Strike Bethesda (5353 Westbard Ave.; 301-652-0955; bowlatstrike.com) —host leagues and can match you with one that suits your skill level. Joining a league costs $10 to $20 per season, more if you’re in it for prizes.
Organizations with leagues include the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association (carabowling.org) —designed for gay and lesbian bowlers but open to anyone—and the Washington, DC, Jewish Community Center (202-777-3279; dcjcc.org) .
If you’re interested in improving your skills before joining a league, there are places where you can take lessons, including the Sports Plus store in Annandale (4255 Markham St.; 703-941-9653).
A more challenging alternative to traditional tenpins is duckpin bowling, a version using smaller balls and pins. The average weekly fee for a duckpin league is $15.
Duckpin is offered at four local lanes: AMF College Park (9021 Baltimore Ave.; 301-474-8282), AMF Bowie (15514 Annapolis Rd; 301-262-5553), Dee’s Lanes (4811 Silver Hill Rd.; 301-735-9534), and White Oak Lanes (11207 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring; 301-593-3000). You can also get involved with a duckpin league at these alleys.