We’ve been to museums, parks and art galleries, taken spooky walking tours and visited parks on elevated train tracks. We’ve explored Pompeii and Wildwood and played some classic video games, so this week, we’re headed to the bowling alley.
Yes, the bowling alley. Only this isn’t the one you may recall from your youth where the alleys smelled of cigar smoke drifting from the lounge, the pool tables reeked of old spilled beer, and the food concessions provided pretzels that could also be classified as deadly weapons.
Asbury Lanes, located on 209 4th St., does offer strikes and spares for your bowling needs, but the venue is also a club specializing in indie, punk and rockabilly bands.
The place came highly recommended from the band The Amboys, which cited it as one of their favorite places to play in New Jersey. Dan and CM, members of the band that specializes in a high-energy Americana sound, singled out Asbury Lanes as a notable place to play.
“We've played there a handful of times and the atmosphere is like no other," they said. "Cheap eats, cheap booze, cheap admission, bowling, and music. Can't really ask for much more.”
It’s the weekend before Halloween and there is a bowling alley waiting for your strikes and spares, as well as some thrashing and rocking. Dig out your bathrobe, go dressed as The Dude, and have some fun. That’s one of the many reasons why we’ve chosen Asbury Lanes for this installment of Day Tripper, a weekly look at destinations that are out of town, but in reach, and worth the trip.
DAY TRIPPER DIGEST
Estimated Travel Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Why it’s Worth the Trip: There’s plenty to do, even if you’re not into the music (but why wouldn’t you be?). Asbury Lanes is more than a bowling alley, and on a chilly autumn weekend before Halloween, why not rip it up with some of New Jersey’s rowdiest rockers?
How to Get There from Here: Detailed driving directions.
You’ll Probably Get Hungry: You won’t lack for places to eat, so take your pick from Lance & Debbie’s Wonder Bar, Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, Langosta Lounge, the Mayfair Boardwalk Grill and the Stella Marina. Asbury Park is not far from Route 35 (just take Sunset Avenue west) and several places to eat on the cheap can be found, from Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts to 7-Eleven and Wegmans.
While you’re in the Area: Get your fill of music and nightlife at Paramount Theater and Convention Hall, Style Rocket Clothing, the Silverball Museum, The Stone Pony, and farther in town, The Saint. Being in close proximity to Route 35, if you are looking for more conventional fare, the former Seaview Square Mall property is still home to department store Sears, but also offers Target, Burlington Coat Factory and Costco.
“We held our CD release party there back in August,” Amboys band members Dan and CM said, “and the girls that run the place gave us free reign to bring in a ton of wilderness to go along with our 'Led Into The Woods' (the title of their newest release) theme. And the ability to keep ticket prices low is obviously pretty important these days.”
The band appreciates these sorts of places to play and is quite aware of the financial needs required of a club, a bowling alley, or a working band.
“We are all feeling the crunch of the times," they said. "It’s a very tough time to be in a band. Our friends, family and fans have been very supportive during these times. Touring, getting signed and selling our music are all part of the dream, but we'll take what we can get at this point.”
With that, The Amboys recognized that playing in places where the owners were set to gouge the patrons was not for them.
“During depressions like these, alcohol sales go up, but cover charges and tickets never go down," they said. "We have avoided playing places that do not cut a break to the common concert goer. Five dollars for a Pabst Blue Ribbon? Seriously? We try to play low-dough shows and benefit shows, so at least the money is going somewhere.”
As for the immediate future for The Amboys, expect more shows and more music to come.
“We just released 'Led Into the Woods' EP this year and we are looking to put out another EP next year. And possibly combine the EPs on one vinyl (full-length album) next year.”
For more information about Asbury Lanes, visit their website here.
This weekend’s offerings at Asbury Lanes include:
Saturday: The NJ Zombie Walk, "Festival of the UNDEAD" After party
Sunday afternoon: Bettina May's "How to be a Pin-up Girl" Class
Sunday night: Sunday Funday Night! with Fancy Space People, The Initials and Nico's Gun
You can learn more about The Amboys at their page: http://www.myspace.com/theamboys
For those looking for a last minute fright fest for the impending Halloween celebration, Norz Hill Farm in Hillsborough will be offering up their Creepy Hollow presentation. The setup consists of three thrilling attractions: Creepy Hollow, a walk-through “haunted trail in the dark” promising .9 miles of terror; moonlight hayrides to take in the views of Norz Hill Farm's 1,100 acres; and the Flashlight Corn Maze.
Check them out at http://www.creepyhollownj.com/, stop by at Norz Hill Farm & Market, 116 South Branch Road, Hillsborough, or give them a call at 908-371-COWS (2697).