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In a Retro World, Bowl-A-Rama Scores

August 24, 2000|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Aside from the occasional rubber bullet binge, life in L.A. has been feeling a lot like the '50s lately. Cruising its wide streets, I see kids shuffling around on scooters, exploring the sunny suburban sprawl from a two-wheel vantage point. Maybe it's just the heat, but there's a retro feeling in the air, like those little pink houses with two-car garages weren't such a bad idea after all. Clearly, Americana's been making quite a comeback, which makes our latest clubland gem, the rockabilly splash Bowl-A-Rama, so very right on time.

Veteran club promoters Carlos Alvarado and Heather Paulos, the husband-and-wife team behind High-Octane events, discovered a run-down bowling alley in Eagle Rock called the All-Star Lanes. It was 1998, and after eight years of mining pure American music for such venues as the Garage, Bar Deluxe, the Blue Saloon and the River Bottom, they took a chance on a blend of bands and bowling. They started building a scene at the All-Star Lanes called Bowl-A-Rama, which in recent months has evolved into one of the coolest tickets in town. Now happening twice a month on Saturdays, Bowl-A-Rama has featured such well-known acts as the Royal Crown Revue, the Polecats and the Paladins.

Bowl-A-Rama is such a swinging trip through time and space and so different from anything else right now. First off, with the price of admission, usually around 10 or 12 bucks, guests can bowl all night for free, while checking out some of the country's hottest rockabilly acts. Rockabilly, a vintage form of rock 'n' roll accented by a sense of '50s fashion, attracts modern-day outlaws--from punks with greased-down hair to gorgeous Latinas dressed like Bettie Page from head to stilettoed toe. While taking its cues from the past, the Bowl-A-Rama scene is a reflection of an edgier youth culture. Girls match guys tatt for tatt. But that doesn't mean its guests aren't friendly. Quite the opposite. The Bowl-A-Rama scene is like a family in which everyone's living a classic American lifestyle.

The All-Star Lanes is the ideal setting for it. Located in a sleepy Eagle Rock neighborhood, the old-school bowling alley makes you feel like you've stepped back a few decades. The tattered bar area, where the bands perform, still has gold marbled-mirror walls and '70s drink prices. And the arcade room includes, gasp, pinball machines.

All-Star Lanes is adjacent to a late-night Chinese food place called the Red Dragon (which, by the looks of it, may have slain a few) and just about everything looks old and cool, even the tattooed biker types who check ID at the door. Vintage custom hot rods decorate the parking lot (there's preferred parking for anyone with a set of pre-'66 wheels), and each event offers a bizarre bazaar for the rocker at heart.

At a recent show by the Royal Crown Revue, the Stillmen and Speedbuggy, guests could check out a Frank Kozik poster-art display, sign up for a tattoo by Vintage Tattoo or purchase Big Ed's '50s Records, Zombie Hot Rod Wear and the girlie line Stop Staring Clothing, which includes halter top and hot pant sets.

Put it this way: Bowl-A-Rama offers a lot of zip, boom and bang for your buck. The next two shows are Sept. 2 (with Deadbolt, Blazing Haley, the Demonics and King Rocker) and Sept. 16 (featuring James Intveld, the Blue Ribbon Boys and Josi Kreuzer). So dust off that retro beater in your two-car garage and rev her up, because Bowl-A-Rama's where it's at. Steee-rike.

BE THERE

Bowl-A-Rama, bimonthly at the All-Star Lanes, 4459 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 254-2579. Next show, Sept. 2. $12. For upcoming show info, see http://www.highoctane1.com.

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