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We invited 30 industry high rollers to show off their striking power at ASL’s newest Brick Lane venue. Natalie Curant slips on her bowling shoes
For our latest industry networking event, we decided to shake things up, swapping Champagne and polite conversation for rolled-up sleeves, mint juleps and bowling balls. So we invited 30 industry king pins to let their bowling do the talking at All Star Lanes. The team at the newest Brick Lane branch welcomed us to the private bowling room, a spacious 130-capacity mezzanine with a trio of lanes, cocktail bar and lounge area (or dancefloor, depending how the evening goes) and the all-important iPod docking station.
Those whose experience of bowling had been confined to childhood birthday parties at the local Megabowl had a pleasant surprise in store. ASL’s glossy 1950s styling – waitresses in denim mini-dresses, cocktails in old-fashioned, retro branding – creates a quirky yet polished backdrop that’s perfectly pitched for corporate entertaining. While the teams battled it out on the lanes, the rest of the crowd had plenty of space to refresh with a selection of fruity cocktails, and to refuel on mini burgers and hotdogs, fish cakes, chilli pots and tuna tacos. There was ample time to watch the action and mingle.
Of course, the serious business was the bowling. Three groups can bowl at a time, so the party was organised into nine teams of four for a knockout tournament: three heats followed by a grand final. With each round, strikes (and gutter balls) were cheered (and commiserated) as the competition began to heat up and the high fives started flying.
Eventually, nine teams became three for the final. After a fierce contest, in which a number of the strong-armed contenders broke 150 points, it was Dicko’s Dream Team, led by V&E’s closet alley cat Laura Dickinson, who took home the coveted golden pin and souvenir bowling shirts. ‘I’m already planning to bring some colleagues down here for a second go, especially now I have a nice new shirt to wear,’ said a triumphant Kate Innocent, corporate manager for City Golf Clubs.
• Give names to the venue before the event so they can pre-programme the score screens
• Mix colleagues up into different teams
• Try to make sure that the male/female ratio is balanced in each team
• Organise the structure of your tournament in advance, so you can explain it to guests when they arrive
• Compile a bowling playlist, including tracks like Oasis, Roll With It; Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire; Beach Boys, Barbara Ann
• If you’ve got the budget, personalise shirts for each team
• Remind guests to bring ankle socks (or provide them with All Star-branded socks)
• Display the prizes to heat up the competition
• Give awards for outrageous bowling flare and big-time victory celebrations
• Keep the food circulating throughout the evening so each round of bowlers is fed
• Team up people with networking in mind so that they can mingle during down time
• Arrive early to warm up – you have the lanes all night so get some practice in pre-torunament
• Running commentary is a nice add-on to build the atmosphere – All Star Lanes can provide an American sports commentator
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, summer 2010