Are you venturing to Midlothian any time soon? Do you have a hankering to play a classic leisure sport? Do you enjoy the sweet sound of a dense, polyurethane ball crashing into maple wood pins?
If you answered “yes” to just one of these questions, I highly recommend you visit Uptown Alley for an exciting bowling experience. A flick of the wrist, ten fallen pins, and a legendary celebration – or the official bowling term, a strike – await you at this fine establishment.
Bowling is an entertaining, low-energy sport that can appeal to all, and Uptown Alley creates a compelling environment for you to play. As you drive up to the alley, you’ll notice the large silver bowling pin sculpture at the top of the building, paired with an enticing green “Uptown Alley,” welcoming you inside. While there is a large parking lot, weekend nights can get busy, making it difficult to find a spot.
As you make your way to the entrance, you’ll find that this bowling alley is divided into two levels. The upper level, called the “Rotunda,” admits only bowlers who are twenty one and above. This space consists of fourteen private bowling lanes, billiards tables, a dance floor, a sports theatre and lounge, a complete adult bar, and a DJ or a featured band. When I entered with three other friends, we could hear the festivities upstairs as the band played a variation of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September.”
The lower level admits bowlers of any age and provides the customers with an equally exciting experience. There is a full bar for parents combined with a sit-down restaurant. As you pass the restaurant and bar area, you see a large arcade comprised of sixty games. Next, you spot Uptown Alley’s gorgeous twenty four lanes.
Each lane has a large projection screen playing a music video to match the song filling the room or a current big game being played in the sports world, such as the NBA playoffs or the Super Bowl. Along with the projector screens across the lanes, there are overhead televisions above your lane displaying not only the score but the configuration of the pins left in your bowl. This is a particularly helpful feature, especially when planning your attempt at a spare. Polly Sommers (‘18) found this especially useful and said she has “never been to a bowling alley with that great of displays.” Uptown Alley also uses a variety of lights to illuminate the dark lanes and even light up the pins to create a surreal, visual sensation. A regular bowler, practicing in a fancy wrist brace in the lane next to ours, described this place as “one of the best in Virginia because of how new and good the technology and facilities are.”
Another distinguishing feature of this bowling alley is the superb food. I asked another customer and her friends about Uptown Alley’s food, and they explained that their favorite was the “bang-bang shrimp” and that “their food is awesome.” Collegiate’s Sarah Dubose (‘18) agreed and expressed that the food was “a bit pricey but very delicious” and said she “would love to go back [to Uptown Alley] again.” Like the food, I thought the bowling was also somewhat expensive. Bowling before 6:00 p.m. in the lower level costs $4.50 per person per game, but after 6:00 p.m. you can rent a lane for up to six people for $35.00 per hour. The Rotunda, or upper level, costs $40.00 after 6:00 p.m. due to the live band and other festivities. For both levels at all times shoe rental is $4.00 a pair.
Uptown Alley also has several enticing events and themes each day of the week. On Wednesdays, the alley has a “Country Night,” and on Thursdays they have karaoke, which always proves to be a hit, according to Uptown Alley’s staff. Alex DiNardo (‘17) simply explains that this bowling alley is “an easy place to have fun.” With a new live band, fantastic food, and state-of-the-art bowling technology, Uptown Alley is a fantastic place to take your girlfriend, boyfriend, family, friends, coworkers, or even a random stranger you met that morning.
All photos by Grant Villanueva.