Bowling, the classic activity for large groups and those looking for an alternative on date night. There aren’t many bowling alleys in the area, or in the lower mainland in general. “Rev’s has always been the one to come to my mind. And considering that it is right by the Holdem skytrain station, it’s often the one most easiest to visit. With the skytrain, you practically get dropped off at their threshold, and given that they open until 1am, they are the perfect last minute Friday night plan. I have fond memories of gym class field trips and birthday parties held in this space. Though sadly, this hallmark of the area would soon be retiring. It has been cited as another area being re-purposed in to high rise homes in the new year. So I made sure to enjoy myself tonight, as it may very well be my last. Also as I don’t go bowling too often, besides protecting my well manicured nails, I don’t find the sport all that engaging. I consider bowling like ice skating, the first round is good, but after a handful of laps you pretty much have had your fill and are looking for something else to do. None-the-less I would make the best out of this match up.
I have never thought to make a reservation for a lane, instead I just drop by and wait patiently for my turn. I mean, outside of cheaper fare days I can’t imagine that they get filled to capacity too often. The only wait you are forced to endure is the one needed to check in with the clerk. After all “REVS Burnaby is Western Canada’s largest 10 pin bowling centre with 48 lanes, which can accommodate up to 300 people in one shift.” That is according to their website. I have never had to wait for people to leave in order for me to play. And even with large parties dropping in, groups tend to share one or two lanes between themselves anyways.
If you are travelling by foot, the bowling alley is relatively easy to spot. Just below the Canada skytrain line rails, with their mildly illuminated bowling pin standing out curb side. It advertises their bowling health club, their barbecue meals, what they have going on for happy hour, and the fact that bowling they are “fun! fun!”
The establishment itself is as eye catching. A one storied, purple building trimmed in purple and orange checkered blocks and painted with waves of yellow, orange, and more purple paint. The parking lot out front is huge, plenty of stalls to stop in. Though sadly it is a pay to park lot, so you need to consider in the cost when choosing to visit. It is most likely to prevent commuters from parking then hopping on the skytrain for a ride. Though I wished they reimbursed parking tickets for those actually coming in to bowl. Not that they need to, but I would think that places offering free parking to their clients often see more repeat and returning business. Though not that it really mattered now I guess.
Their “Kansas City Bar B Q shack” is advertised by a large sign above the address. You can see it driving by on Lougheed Hwy or cruising in the skytrain. I have always thought to come in for a meal and a bowl. However, as I mentioned earlier, this tends to be a last minute plan, an “we already did what we wanted to, but now want to do something else now” plan. A plan that doesn’t involve drinking downtown, and a plan that doesn’t cost too much. On top of barbecue meats and sides, like ribs, wings, and pulled pork sandwiches; they also have a bar and kitchen serving pub classics like burgers, pizza, and fries. But not just your regular assortment. A galbi burger with their house Korean BBQ sauce; a salad with cranberry, spinach, and pecans; schnitzel with Dijon mustard sauce; and even pizza with arugula, goat cheese, and caramelized pears. It all sounded good on paper, but I am just too skeptical to try. Good food in a bowling alley? I would rather gamble on hot dogs and fries than what sounded like gourmet plates.
After a walk through the large parking lot and a step through the sliding glass doors your first move is towards the front desk to check in. You pay per game and have the shoe rental fee, in addition. The prices are based on what time of the day and which day is it. Saturday and Sunday seemed to have the best rates. Bowl between 9-10:30am for only $1.50 per game. Obviously the less popular the time slot the better the deal becomes.
You give them your shoe size and they pass you a pair of their loaner red and blue bowling shoes. The stereotype is true they are well worn and heavily used, though are sprayed down for sanitation in between uses. That is why socks are so important. Luckily they have you covered if you have forgotten yours. They have socks for purchase in one of their vending machines. I wonder how many people asked if they sold socks for them to figure out that this was worth doing. It is a smart move, because as I have said; more often than not bowling isn’t a plan, but a last minute decision. How many times have you come to bowl in flip flops or heels? Thinking you don’t need closed toe foot wear because you are forced to rent theirs, only to realize that you don’t have socks. Socks, that necessary barrier between your foot and everyone’s sweat. I am not ashamed to admit that I have purchased vending machine socks for about $6. Classified between men’s and women’s, with each size assigned a different vending machine code. My women’s size 6-8 champion branded socks are ones I still use today.
My favourite part about this alley is their glow-in-the-dark bowling feature. It is where the black lights are flipped on and any thing white immediately becomes irredesiant. Guys in all white tees, the laces on the shoes, and even my nail polish. When the lights dims and the paint turns neon, the experience changes. It is almost surreal with “exploding pins”, glowing balls rolling down lanes, and hidden patterns that only appear when lights strobe. Like a tame night club for elementary school kids. Though I as an adult enjoyed the novelty as well.
The game begins when you select a ball and input your name into the monitor. If you don’t own your own bowling ball, like with their shoes, you can use their communal ones, but this is at no additional charge. The balls not in use and available for your use are located on the racks betwixt each lane. A layered column with solid levels to hold up each ball. They are colour coded and etched with their weight. 6 is the lightest, and I have seen balls as heavy as 14. I am happiest with an 8, and still pretty comfortable with a 9.
Each lane has its own console that is bolted to its own the table, located right before the actual bowling lane. This table allows for those waiting their turn to sit, as well as offering itself a interm place to house your belongings and regular shoes. You can even order food to eat off these tables. Though anything alcoholic needs to be enjoyed away from this area. A back a few steps, by all the ball racks there are high top tables for you to lean on and drink from. So in between bowls you can walk back and take sips from your pint. Though I have never done so; as you don’t leave your drink unattended, so far away, for so long, out of your eye line.
You begin your game by pushing buttons to spell out your name. I remembered giggling as I punched out “butt” and “ass” in to the field as an angsty teen. That novelty fades with age, sort of like your high school email versus your professional one.
After deciding who would go first and who’s name would go in first, you then take turns. The screen above kept score and dictated who was to bowl when. The goal is to throw your weighted ball down the lane, aiming it at the 10 pins set at a point. Like in golf, you want to knock as many pins as possible with as little strokes as possible. But unlike golf, you only get two tries and after that, the turn to bowl moves on to your opponent. And also unlike golf, the aim is to get as many points as possible. 200 is the max, a perfect game where you have made all the pins fall with the first roll. Each one ball, all pins fall move is called a “strike”. A “spare” is doing the same, but within the maximum allowed two throws. You get half and get the rest, the next time around. And as I mentioned earlier, if you need any more throws than that, you are out of luck. The number of pins toppled after bowl number two is your final score for that round. Aside from the activity and the achievement of throwing something and making other things fall, half the fun is dropping your head back, and with chin up stare as the number of pins dropped tally under your name. If you get a spare or strike it even plays a quirky graphic in celebration. An animated short of a personified bowling ball and pins paying out the scene above with a full array of faces. The big bad bowling ball charges at the timid pins as they cower in fear.
There is a technique to bowling, but I don’t know it. I play for fun and cross my fingers for a win. I am typically lucky, I have so far faced off against individuals where I was slightly better than them.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sad to see this community centre go, but I don’t come often enough to have its loss affect me. I have frequent only once in the last year, and that is with it being only a 10 minute leisurely walk from my place. Though I do recommend others to take advantage of this lane, while it still exists. Afterall bowling is an easy sport that the worst athletic can participate in. A game that allows multiple players at a reasonable cost. And an activity that most hold nostalgia towards. And for those who are looking for “fundraising opportunities, corporate team building possibilities, a children’s birthday party place, or just a night out with friends”; they advertise themselves as a solid option for all of the above. There are even bowling packages that include food and beverage to help host a great event. Visit them now, before the space becomes a construction site. And after that, they still have their Maple Ridge and Rose Bowl locations available to you.
5502 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby BC, V5B 2Z8