Bowling has recently emerged as a major form of retro-hip entertainment among Gen-Xers (in fact, members of the Entertainment Design staff have been known to hit the alleys from time to time, although our scores remain a deeply guarded secret). And for good reason - what other sport can be played indoors, in a party atmosphere, with little or no skill necessary? However, bowling has changed significantly since the days when Mom and Dad each belonged to a league. As a result, owners of bowling lanes across the country have purchased packages of lighting and sound equipment for designated party nights, turning their venues into de facto discotheques. One excellent example is Don Carter's University Bowling Center in Davie, FL, which offers Lightning Strikes, turning all 64 lanes into a hopping party spot.
As designed by Michael Yelvington of Dancetarium, the Fort Worth, FL-based company that supplied lighting and sound equipment to the project (with technical support from Jim Fuller of Martin Professional, in nearby Hollywood), Lightning Strikes makes use of a lineup of Martin equipment, including 22 Punisher intelligent lighting effects units, 22 RoboScan 812s, five MAC 250s, seven RoboScan Pro 918s, and three ImageScans, all controlled by the Martin LightJockey, a Windows-based DMX platform. The evening begins with the music of Also Sprach Zarathustra, the immortal theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the house lights dim and the Martin package goes to work, projecting beams and patterns across the lanes. According to MC and entertainment director Tom Roy, the equipment is more than effective: "When the house lights fade and the light show begins, people begin to scream," he says.
The effect is rather, well, psychedelic. The Punishers make a strobe effect above the players' heads, as mirrorballs spin lights around the room, and gobo patterns traverse the floor. The ImageScans are used to project the Don Carter logo on walls at either end of the room. Lanes are coated with Day-Glo paint, and glow eerily under the effects of approximately 200 UV light units; a neon-effect bowling-pin-and-ball design placed along the main wall appears under the blacklight as well. Smoke emits from holes in the wall above the pins, thanks to Jem Magnum Pro 2000 smoke machines. Lasers from Mobolazer cut through the smoke with colored beams. A closed-circuit TV system zooms right in on the bowling action, sending images to four Ballistic video screens placed around the room. This is bowling as Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton never imagined it.