Music-Filled Alleys Are Keeping Them Off the Streets at Night


Much has been rendered in the name of rock 'n' roll. Rebellion. Revolutions. Art. Sex. Death. Even fashion.

But bowling?

Oh sure, it's not as glamorous as those other American B-ball pastimes--baseball and basketball. There are no celebrity bowlers hawking their own athletic shoes. And, while all sides are crying foul in baseball lately, one never hears bowlers complaining about a strike.

As for teens who want to rock come the weekend, the best and sometimes only option is to, uh, roll.

Bowling fills the perennial void for many high schoolers. It's the "something to do" other than the movies, a kegger party or sitting at home watching TV.

"Rock 'n' Bowls" like those held late Friday and Saturday nights at the Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, Westminster Lanes in Westminster and Regal Lanes in Orange are a something-to-do option--albeit not an ideal one, teens say.

After the leaguers and family crowd head home, rock 'n' bowl fans move in and take over the lanes until 2 or 3 a.m. A deejay provides a cranked-up sound track for these nocturnal alley cats.

Boredom led Horizon sophomore Jody Morelli of Huntington Beach to her first try at bowling last August. She and sweetheart Bobby Brisby, a Marina sophomore, now frequent the Fountain Bowl regularly. She's hooked.

Neither of them cares too much about the eclectic mix of music blaring through the alley: a back-to-back mishmash of New Order, Ozzy Osbourne, Green Day, Bob Marley. It's background music for all they care, loud, but just there. "We just avoid getting a lane next to the speakers, and it's all right," says Bobby, 16. Tonight, they camped out at lane 40.

At Westminster Lanes, Westminster High senior Duncan Stewart and his entourage have grudgingly accepted a similar format, although they'd rather listen to rap. "But they won't play it because they think it's gang music," he says.

Duncan, 17, and his pals are about the furthest anyone can be from gang material--argyle socks not being the footwear choice of gang bangers.

The lot of them showed up last Saturday, as they do most weekends, after brandishing pep at a CIF game. It was girls' basketball this evening.

Unlike most of his friends, or even most participants at any of the rock 'n' bowls, Duncan can bowl pretty well. A favorite maneuver among many teen bowlers is to just drop the ball and get their turn over with, resulting in plenty of gutter balls. Duncan actually tries for a strike.

"I enjoy bowling. That's a really cheesy answer, I know. It's partly the camaraderie, too," he assures. "It's being able to come here and enjoy a good wholesome time with your friends."

Wholesome, however, is in the eye of the beholder. These bowling evenings are certainly not an afternoon in church. About half of the patrons are of college age and, among those 21 and over, guzzling pitchers of domestic brew is as much a sport as throwing gutter balls.

"Some of them start acting kind of weird," says Duncan's classmate Sarah Patalano, 17. She flares her nostrils and turns up her lip in distaste. "I don't really care for that. But for the most part it's a place where we can stay out late, have fun and not get into trouble." Sarah, after all, doesn't really bowl. She just comes for the fun.

Her friend Tien Tran, a junior at Westminster High, agrees. But why here instead of hanging out at traditional spots such as Denny's? "We're more hyper than hungry," says Tien, 16.

But they are hungry, insists Michele Rasmussen, a Westminster High junior who hangs out every weekend with best friends Megan Boyd, 17, and Tiffany Swaine, 16.

The trio is not even bowling, just "loitering," says Megan, a junior. "They don't like us to, but they've gotten used to us." She then rambles off to the in-house Taco Bell.

"If there was, like, a nightclub for teen-agers, we'd be there," Michele says, frustrated. "But there's no other place for us to go. "We used to go to Main Street (in Huntington Beach) and hang out in the coffeehouses or whatever. But with the 10 o'clock curfew, they arrest you."

At the rock 'n' bowl, they still have to contend with the older patrons, 19 and up, who think they own the place, Michele says. "That's why, if we had somewhere to go, a bunch of places to go only for people under 18, we wouldn't have to worry about that."

Still, says Tiffany, a senior, "it's the only place you can stay out till 3 in the morning--if your parents let you--and not get in trouble by the police."

"What's more American than bowling?" interrupts Michele, half mocking. "It's a big part of this country's heritage. And, she adds, "It's better than doing nothing."

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