Better than: Having a ferret thrown in the bath with you while some nihilist pisses on your favorite rug.
At least three people ordered white Russians, but nobody showed up in a purple jumpsuit or robe and sandals for the first Over The Line, a Big Lebowski-themed monthly rock and roll bowling event at Diamond Strike in Pompano.
The 40-year-old bowling alley heated up on a cold Sunday night as the Shakers, Los Bastardos Magnificos, and Mobile Homies offered everybody in the building their first experience hearing a live band while trying hard to throw more strikes than gutter balls.
"This kind of thing is huge out west in Vegas and all over California," said event organizer Mark Pollack. "We've been trying to get something like this going for a long time. Bowling and rock and roll go together like milk and cookies -- it seemed obvious."
Nobody who came out had played or seen an event like Over The Line in South Florida, but Diamond Strike manager Debbie Feder said when she spoke with Pollock, there was no hesitation to say yes instantly. "I just loved it," she said.
Feder's group took over Diamond Strike four years ago, reacting to the down economy at the time by finding ways to make it cheaper for families to have a fun day out at a low cost. She also has developed a series of evening special events, bringing in DJs for hip-hop night on Mondays and inviting national artists for a series of rockabilly shows, among other ideas to get people through the doors.
"We want to bring back the old-fashioned bowling night out," Feder said, adding that Over the Line had clearly brought out a new crowd.
Pollack had nearly given up trying to get his rock and roll bowling concept going after every bowling center in Broward County he talked to either couldn't fit the event into their busy league schedules or were leery about rock and roll polluting the purity of the alley.
It took less than a day to book the bands, all of whom were enthusiastic to play soundtrack for the music-lovers and holiday-bored masses that packed Diamond Strike's lanes.
"We hang out at bowling alleys when we're on tour because it's the latest thing open," said Los Bastardos Magnificos singer and guitarist David Miller, "So we'll hang out after shows. We've absolutely never played in one though."
Fort Lauderdale resident Chris Cloer said he searched for bowling alleys online while looking for something to do, and thought Over the Line sounded different. "I've heard about stuff like this but never been to it -- it was fun."
Nicole Parente of Coconut Creek isn't a bowler, but stopped for a slice of pizza down the street from Diamond Strike and saw the flyer on Facebook -- deciding to head a block away to catch the Shakers. "I was like, 'fuck yeah,'" she said. "I like bowling but I don't do it a lot. I'd come back to this though."
As with many at the alley, the closest to a Lebowski reference she heard came from the mouths of the bands, nearly all of whom were sure to scream "over the line" and remind bowlers that "this is not 'Nam. This is bowling - there are rules."
The bands ramped up the tempo over the course of the night, starting with Lake Worth's Mobile Homies. Some bowlers seemed surprised when the "rock and roll dudes playing country" got going. "Our minimum [for a good show] was met: Two pretty girls were dancing, and two others were singing along. Granted, it was a cover, but it still counts. That's pretty cool when people who've never seen you before are that into it."
Los Bastardos Magnificos quickly set up next, filling Diamond Strike with Miller's distinctly hardcore punk-style gruff vocals, acoustic guitar and the sounds of fiddle. There aren't many bands in Miami peddling anything like their Outlaw America, so playing before the speeding punk rock of the Shakers wasn't new.
"We've always been known to play oddball places," said Pat Shaker, singer and guitarist for the 19-year-old Margate based band. "We can make fun of each other the whole time, which watching a bunch of non-athletes -- it was fun."
As the band packed up and bowlers bundled up before walking into the strangely freezing South Florida night air, it appeared that everybody who showed up -- we'll collectively call them The Dude -- abided. And planned to come back.
"This place is dope," said Shakers bassist John Shaker. "You get to bowl and listen to bands. You can't go wrong."
Personal Bias: Three good local bands, a range of people from age five to ancient cursing their gutter balls, and vague but continuous references to one of the greatest cult classic films of the last twenty years? There's no way this was going to go badly.
-- Stephen Feller
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