Bowling in Abuja

If you travel a lot, you develop certain habits. Travel enough and these evolve into rituals, practices you need to engage in to feel like you’ve really come to a new place. Some rituals are very practical. I have friends who are serious runners, and until they’ve gone for a run in a new city, they don’t feel like they’ve really been there.

Others are just silly. My friend Andrew McLaughlin likes to eat Mexican food in cities that are really far from Mexico. Travelling with Andrew, I’ve eaten chimichangas in Accra and fajitas in Ulaanbaatar. And while this sounds like a terrible idea, those fajitas were probably the best meal I had in Mongolia.

As for me, I like to go bowling. This isn’t always easily achieved. Not every city – no matter how cosmopolitan – has a bowling alley. But sometimes you’ll get lucky.


John Bracken shows how it’s done

Abuja boasts a six-lane bowling alley in a club called The Dome. Upstairs is a swank nightclub. Downstairs, half a dozen pool tables, an air hockey table, foosball and black-lit disco bowling. If I were still fourteen, it would be heaven. And at thirty-six, it still made me pretty happy.

It’s not cheap: 1000 naira a game – roughly $7, or enough for a filling dinner and a beer or two. But how often do you get to watch your friends hurl glowing pink bowling balls while laser lights play across the alley and auto-tuned Nigerian hiphop plays in the background? (Not often enough, I tell you.)

I’ve read claims online that this is the only public bowling alley in West Africa – I’d love information that confirms or denies that claim. Because bowling in Abuja is pretty special, but bowling at the only alley in this vast and lovely region would be even more unique.

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13 Responses to Bowling in Abuja

  1. nnfox says:

    There is a great bowling alley in Accra. Down the Labadi Beach road, right next door to, well, the Next Door spot. The place is actually a bowling alley/casino/Chinese restaurant combo. Very fun.

  2. Rachel says:

    Blacklit disco bowling! Oh, wow.

  3. Jaspal says:

    My ritual is Indian food. And I’m guessing the fajitas from Ulaanbaatar were from the Indian-Mexican place Los Bandidos. It’s good you didn’t try the Indian menu.

  4. evan says:

    Ahh I wish I had known of this place when I was in abuja. There are two bowling spots in Lagos on victoria island. One of them is candlestick bowling (skinny pins and smaller balls)

  5. Wayan says:

    Aw man, you beat me to it! Disco bowling sounds very cool – in Abuja makes it cooler. But I have to agree with your runners.

    A long run in a new city is the best. Especially when you chance upon Togo’s National Run to the Border Day: http://bellybuttonwindow.com/2008/togo/national_run_to_the_border_day.html

  6. Jan says:

    I share your love of bowling alleys and in a few towns they are still the social hub around which the community revolves: mixed age groups; lots of time for chatter; relatively even gender split; lite food – can make a good ad-hoc interview pick-up joint. With the exception of the alley in Tehran that swung to the sound of banging techno.

    Other rituals from team members: taking a run and shaking off jetlag; buying and using local toothpaste, an act that stretches the trip for a few weeks after returning home; and one of our team (I won’t reveal who) buys local made underwear.

  7. Kwasi Appiah says:

    This is a Chinese operated one in Accra, on the Accra-tema road. This is what the news clip said about it: “(it is on]the Accra-Tema beach road near the Teshie shooting range. The centre comes along with the first bowling game facilities in Ghana. It is fully equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment for this physical endurance and highly entertaining game in which heavy balls are rolled along a special track towards a group of wooden pins. The $1 million wholly-owned Chinese investment, located next door to the Next Door Beach Resort, is a multi-purpose joint that houses variety of entertainment games under one roof. Standing on a 2,600 square metre ground and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Harbin Entertainment Centre promises to be arguably the biggest indoor games and entertainment joint in the country at the moment.

    For a more physical affair, Harbin is a sure bet venue where you will be less a spectator and participate more in various games.

    For a cool ¢25,000 per bowling session, you can burn fat in your system and exercise your muscles on the 12-line bowling platform from Monday to Thursday, starting from 12 noon till the wee hours of the next morning. The rate is a bit higher at ¢30,000 over the weekend and on public holidays.”

  8. Andrew says:

    At last – a reason for you to come to Khartoum. There is a bowling alley in the main shopping centre.

  9. Hi Ethan,
    There’s a cool bowling alley at the Shoprite shopping mall at Lekki, Lagos.

  10. Ethan says:

    Glad to know that bowling’s coming to the continent in a big way. Maybe we need a tournament around the Maker Faire in August? Thanks everyone for the suggestions – probably not going to make it out to Next Door this trip, but really glad to know there’s bowling options for me in Accra now.

  11. Amos Anyimadu says:

    I would also want to confirm that we have Harbin in Accra. I have been told that the facility is technically very good.

    I was thinking about Robert Putnam/s famous essay Bowling Alone. What has your international bowling thought you about the distribution of social capital?

  12. Leonard says:

    We’ll make sure you enjoy bowling in Taiwan next time when you visit here. You will visit, sooner or later. I am sure. :-)

  13. Well, Ethan, you’ll be happy to know that Morocco got its first bowling alley a couple of years ago – though it’s not quite as incredible as that one! It’s only got 6 lanes and is in a giant mall. C’est la vie.

    My ritual is pretty simple – Cappuccino. Aside from Italy, Morocco does it best, and Japan does it worst.

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