Inside New York’s least competitive bowling league | ET REALITY


The noise from the spectators increased to a crescendo of shouts as the ball was launched towards the pins: Hit! A triumphant player turned around, smiling at the crowd. She and more than 50 others had arrived on a recent Sunday afternoon at Gutter’s Manhattan location, a dimly lit spot on the Lower East Side, to participate in an amateur bowling league held every two weeks through from an Instagram group of 100 people. chat called “Bowling is divine.” Dressed in vintage T-shirts, tank tops, baggy cargo pants and wide-leg jeans with an early 2000s vibe, the group of people in their 20s and 30s, many of whom work in art, fashion and design , they drank beers and rested. on leather couches as they took turns in the eight lanes they had reserved.

While players occasionally exchange tips on approach and spin, the mood seems surprisingly low. People are Here to make friends. “Bowling,” says Tim Ho, a 29-year-old dentist, “is a great equalizer.” The league began when he and a group of his friends, including Eddie Yu, a 29-year-old clothing store owner, and Rowan Thompson, a 29-year-old brand strategist at the design firm Yabu Pushelberg, decided they wanted to play bowling at Gutter on an October afternoon in 2022. Neither Ho nor Yu had bowled since they were kids and fell in love with the simplicity of the game. “You’re throwing a ball down a lane to hit the pins; it doesn’t require crazy athleticism,” Ho says. When the group met again, two more friends joined them. By the third event, at the end of November, there were 20 people. Ho created a group chat on Instagram with the initial tactic: “Humanity only needed three fingers. The other seven were simply God’s insurance policy.”

The group chat soon expanded to include 100 people, including Kozaburo Akasaka, the founder of the Kozaburo fashion brand; artist and designer Travis Brothers; and Sarah Lim, illustrator and production manager for clothing brand Puppets and Puppets. Along the way, it has become a space to communicate not only about the league but also about other social events: it is a mixture of bowling memes, jokes, flyers and restaurant recommendations that has a pleasant looseness. “In New York, it seems like everyone is capitalizing and commodifying their passion,” says Edmond Hong, a 31-year-old chef, who attended 10 of the events. “It’s fun to have a hobby.” Here’s how Sunday’s recent meeting went.

The guests: Ho and Yu met through a mutual friend at Rose Bakery, the cafe in New York’s Dover Street Market store. Now, Ho handles the scheduling and books the lanes, while Yu organizes the post-bowling dinner, for which the group usually goes to nearby Chinese restaurants like Wu’s Wonton King or Congee Village. Every two weeks, Ho asks people to “like” his message in the chat if they plan to attend; On average, a few dozen friends attend each event.

The rules: At this particular meeting, a group of 58 people occupied eight lanes. The basics of the game: Each player has 10 turns, in which he throws his ball twice, trying to knock down as many pins as possible. Generally, players get one point per pin, but getting a strike (all 10 pins in one throw) or a spare (all 10 in two throws) will get you more. However, many of the players in this league don’t pay attention to the numbers during the rounds, Ho says. However, he maintains an informal list of the people with the highest scores. (Theo Darst, a creative producer, currently holds the record for highest score in a single game, with 178 points.) Most people finished the session with what group members like to call a “round of chaos,” experimenting with tricks like reverse aiming between the legs or throwing a spectacular curveball.

The place: Inside Gutter, which sits on a busy stretch of Essex Street, the walls feature vintage Budweiser beer and Pabst Blue Ribbon posters. There are 12 lanes; a bar; a kitchen serving pub food, including pizza and burgers; and a selection of arcade games. During the recent event, the sound of rock from the 80s and 90s mixed with the applause of the crowd.

The winner: David Shin, at least among those keeping score, had the highest score during one of the rounds. Shin, who works in customer relations for task management company Asana, has come into the league over the past six months. He loves “the low barrier to entry,” he says.

Food: After the event, a couple dozen players walked to the nearby Dim Sum Palace restaurant and sat at round, banquet-style tables. Yu ordered food for the whole group: Dungeness crab, fried rice and fried rice noodles, cold smashed cucumber, fried chicken, spicy pork dumplings, and more. As waiters brought out the crabs on large trays, the group cheered and pulled out their iPhones to take photos.

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