Hawaiian themed bowling alleys

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in LA just about every bowling alley has a Hawaiian theme. There’s Java Lanes, Kona Lanes, Maui Lanes, etc., and they all have Lanai style facades with giant tikis mounted all over the place.

I don’t get it. It’s my understanding that bowling is a Midwest sort of activity favored by second generation Poles and Norweigians. What possible connection can there be to Hawaii?

PS-Many of the Garden-Apartment style buildings from the sixties also have a Hawaiian theme.

Can’t help, Senor Bear, other than to report that bowling lanes here in Hawaii have no Hawaiian themes, other than a coupla songs on the jukebox.

Must just be in LA, Papa. Here in Philadelphia, none of the bowling alleys have been updated since 1962. They still have that Laverne & Shirley “Pizza Bowl” look.

My guess is that most bowling alleys in the country were built in the early to mid 1960s, and they followed the style of the time in the given geographical region.

Slightly before my time, but from period TV shows and movies, it seems that surfing and Hawaiian themes were popular on the West Coast during that time. (Witness the Batman vs. Joker surf competition, truly a classic.)

“Look out, here comes a shark!”

(Adam West, wobbling against a film backdrop of monster tubage, shakes a blue spraycan unconvincingly)

“The shark went away.”

I’ll never forget the scene of Caesar Romero running into the surf in full Joker uniform. still chuckling

Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!

The bowling alleys I’ve frequented (in Rhode Island, San Diego and Ukiah, CA) haven’t had Hawaiian themes – just the old ticky-tacky bowling alley type theme. And at least one bowling alley in LA isn’t Hawaiian-esqe either. My old man and I broke down on the way out of LA a couple years ago (on our way home to San Diego from the Love Ride) and I wasted a few hours in a bowling alley next to a service station while he was getting a new battery in the bike. Just a typical ticky-tacky bowling alley. I’m going with El Mariachi Loco, here. Polynesion stuff was very popular in the '50s and early '60s – I’ll bet your bowling alleys were built then.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

Papa, where are these bowling alleys? I’ve never seen one. I wanna go-I love Hawaii!

There’s two I can give you exact locations for:

Java Lanes is on the 3800 block of E. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Long Beach (LA County).

Kona Lanes is on the corner of Harbor & Adams in Costa Mesa (Orange County).

I’ve seen others but I can’t recall their exact locations.

I’m starting to think that they are relics of an architectual fad in the early 60s right after the admission of the 50th state.

Well, if you tire of retro bowling come to The Other Coast for some blatant zeitgeist GenX bowling!

Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan has TechnoBowling every Monday night. It’s a tad expensive and crowded though: the only other bowling alley in Manhattan is in the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Eeeeewww.

Papa, you are probably very correct in your assumption about the timeframe except for maybe it was after WW2 and everyone really noticed Hawaii and how cool it was. I also notice that the alleys that you mention are in beach communities. That must play a part you lucky dog, because us inlanders have the usual bowling alleys bowling alleys, drinks and cigs (depending on where you are) for everyone! But I can drive to the beach in less than 2 hours!

Ah my friend you have noticed the famed art era known as the Googie Period! Googie was the kiztchy art deco that came out right when WW2 ended. It was a mixture of the future atomic age looks, the art deco of the 50’s and the west coast luau movement. Believe it or not, the googie movement spread across America and there were tons of such places here and there but it even influenced fashion ideals. This was about the time Hawaiian shirts were the rage (watch the Wanderers, all the mob guys were them).
Anyway, the googie period last throughout the fifties and was everywhere (think about retro furniture the plastic sofa and the clock known as the starlight clock which makes it look like a clock on a cartoon sun)
The bowling alleys are some of the last vestige of the googie movement. Some others are the orginal look of the first McDonald’s and the like.

In case you are wondering how other googie art deco looks check this page out


It should answer all your questions

Checked out the link, Heath, and that’s exactly the type of design I was thinking about.

The Googie Period! It’s nice to have a lable for it. I can’t wait to impress my friends! Thanks!