Bowling goes glam at downtown lounge
Cindy Steiner, 28, hadn’t been bowling since she was in middle school. And while she never missed lacing up her bowling shoes, an evening at Madison’s new boutique bowling alley reminded her that she actually enjoyed it.
And, as it turns out, it was something she was good at. She bowled a strike on the evening Segredo Boutique Bowling Lounge opened its doors recently.
Occupying the former location of the troubled Madison Avenue nightclub at 624 University Ave., it’s the first “boutique bowling” club of its type in the United States. It’s an experiment inspired by a similar place in a college town in southern Brazil.
The idea is to fit a few bowling lanes into the existing space — Segredo has just four lanes roughly half the length of the regulation 60-foot bowling alleys. Though Segredo’s lanes are smaller, the glitz factor is much bigger. Music videos are projected on screens above the bowling lanes, the decor is sleekly contemporary, and the lighting produces an otherworldly effect.
Isaac Lenz, 25, who lives Downtown and averages 90 to 120 points a game when he bowls, said he plans to return to Segredo. He doesn’t like the long trek to the big bowling alleys further out from the city center.
“This is a good alternative to what’s available downtown. I’d come here to check out the music, the vibe and the crowd, ” he said.
Jan Hansen of Middleton said she likes the music videos, and “it’s fun to be able to get some exercise while you’re socializing.”
Beyond socializing and bowling, Segredo is very much a lounge. The food on the menu is designed to be shared, and patrons can enjoy sophisticated cocktails, listen to live music, and play both Nintendo Wii games and Brazilian floor games that are new in the U.S.
Co-owner Michael Hierl said he expects Segredo will become a destination entertainment venue that will attract young professionals as well as students who’d otherwise end up at house parties.
Owners of the big bowling alleys in the area aren’t quaking in their bowling shoes about competition from boutique bowling.
“They don’t have the capacity to handle league bowling or open bowling, ” said Jason Albers, manager at the 40-lane Bowl-A-Vard at 2121 E. Springs Drive. “Lanes that short are for fun, not competition.”
Nor does he expect the larger local bowling alleys around here to jump on the national trend to beautify their facilities. “Maybe some people will get nicer couches or something. But, for the scene here, anything more than that would be too classy.”