The pulse of cranked pop music seeps through a set of double doors, beyond which lies a glorious study break.
Through these doors, a milky white, paper skeleton hangs eerily from a neon scroll along the ceiling. Welcome to University Lanes, it announces in one hundred bright red lights.
To the right, bowling alley owner, Bennie Richmond, and his friend, Larry Root, lean comfortably against a countertop, greeting an impressive influx of students to Boo Bowling.
Richmond’s dogs, Saber and Jewel, lie good-naturedly beside their owner, unperturbed by the rush of people and Lady Gaga’s soaring soprano.
Ahead, all the alley’s lanes are lit, many columns of bright white inviting bowlers to play. Black light lies thickly in the air, making everything glow. Overlapping shades of red, green and blue sway kaleidoscopically across the lanes, light fragments shifting in time to the music. In the center of it all, a modest disco ball throws thin beams of silver across the walls.
It might be a weeknight, but this fails to dampen the perceptibly enjoyable atmosphere.
On Tuesday, Oct. 29, Albion’s University Lanes opened its doors to college students seeking Halloween fun. From 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., shuttles brought participants to and from the Union Board-sponsored ‘Boo Bowling’ event.
About 70 students attended in total, with a fresh tide of new faces sweeping in every five minutes. Within just 20 minutes, 40 students had filled the alley, pacing excitedly amongst a great many orange balloons.
Union Board members worked through the night, constantly rotating refilled jugs of pop and water. Bennie’s wife, Julie, cooked and set out several fresh pizzas,
Students lounged on chairs, dancing playfully in between their turns and clapping wildly when their friends scattered some pins.
This sort of relaxed, entertaining atmosphere is just what Richmond had in mind when he purchased University Lanes late last March. Richmond said he and Julie “really like to see people have a good time. That’s why we wanted to get into the bowling business.”
They were certainly successful in this end, demonstrated by the excitement of first-years and seniors alike. Both Albion College’s Ciara Cannoy, West Branch first-year, and Shannon Seward, Trenton senior, expressed interest in future bowling events.
“It’s nice to come out once in a while and just have a fun time with people,” Cannoy said.
Though parties like this one are undoubtedly popular, Seward fondly remembers the Alley’s former Thursday nights, which opened its lanes and bar to students. Something the whole school relished.
“Everyone was upset when the Alley closed; that was a big thing,” Seward said.
University Lanes closed last fall facing serious legal trouble. The alley’s previous owner failed to transfer its liquor license when he contracted it and accumulated numerous violations for serving to minors. The state consequently revoked the license, forcing new owner Richmond to file for the removal of the alley from escrow.
Despite such roadblocks, Richmond said University Lanes will likely reintroduce the event on Thursday evenings, since no leagues play and “everyone said that was a good time to have a college night.”
Though Boo Bowling was a hit, there are currently no arranged school events for the future. The alley will remain available, however, and Richmond said “anything the college wants to schedule is absolutely great with us.”
Photos by Emma Planet