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Amidst the costumed mayhem, a punk rock bowling tournament

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Photo: Allison Duck

Stepping off the elevator at the Sam’s Town bowling center on Saturday felt like entering Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for the Super Bowl. The noise was deafening as the elevator doors opened to a scene of wall-to-wall punk rock fans and bowlers, surrounding the lanes in team uniforms that put bowling shirts to shame.

Punk Rock Bowling @ Sam's Town

There was a team of seductive pirates in elaborate corsets and very short petticoats named The Pirates of Whore Island. Another team wore three dice across their backs depicting the number 666 along with the name Church of Satan Youth Group. A team with politically tendencies donned bowling shirts under the name, Bowlrac Obowlma, and Double Down Saloon regular and local hula hooper, Szandora, wore a sexy nurse uniform. Of course, there were countless fishnets, mohawks and safety-pinned jean jackets throughout the huge crowd.

The 11th Annual Punk Rock Bowling tournament brought 168 teams from all over the country to Las Vegas this past weekend to compete in the amateur bowling battle and attend a packed lineup of punk shows going on around the city.

Punk Rock Bowling founders, Shawn and Mark Sterns.

Organizer Shawn Stern of BYO Records in Los Angeles came up with the idea for the event after learning of other music affiliated bowling leagues on the West Coast.

“Me and my brother Mark and our ace bowler Andre, we all work together and we came up with the idea. This is the 11th year. Andre is a really good bowler, and he heard that Phat Records up in San Francisco was doing a bowling league, and we decided we should do a bowling league in LA. So we got a bunch of record labels together and did it in Santa Monica.”

The event eventually grew into what it is today, an annual tournament and punk rock reunion party in Las Vegas. “We thought we would just get all of our friends together out here and have a big party. Bowling is just an excuse to get together and party. The first year we did it there were 27 teams, and then it’s been sold out ever since.”

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From the Archives
Feeling lucky, punk? (1/15/09)
Beyond the Weekly
Punk Rock Bowling

One team that caught everyone’s eye this year was The Groms from Santa Barbara. Made up of band members from the Cali punk band by the same name, The Groms lead singer, Rudie, boasted, “We are the first band, unfortunately, to get disqualified from Punk Rock Bowling. We came all the way out here and did what we always do, which is always have fun all the time. We were a little rowdy, as always.”

This “rowdy” behavior involved Rudie’s bandmate, Russell Cevins, stripping down to his birthday suit to improve his bowling skills. While he bowled a strike on his next turn, his spread eagle victory dance didn’t go over so well with the tournament organizers. Cevins and The Groms were ousted from the tourney, and Cevins was asked to put his clothes back on, in this case a little girl’s pink princess dress.

However, Punk Rock Bowling 2009 wasn’t all bare butts and outlandish outfits. Hailing from a punk rock dive bar in Tacoma, Washington, team Hell’s Kitchen scored its first PRB win, taking home the grand prize of $2,400. The highest ladies’ score of 215 went to Laura Shaw from the roller derby team, Windy City Rollers, her second time taking home top honors.

Still, the highlights of the tournament weren’t necessarily the best performances on the wood, but rather the most entertaining ones. A team of daisy-duke clad men from Santa Barbara explained their choice of uniform saying, "Our machismo is stunning. The Dukes of Haggard – well we’re beat up, but we’re still, dare I say, amazing looking men."

“Why can’t you be fabulous while you bowl?" another bowler asked, revealing his secret weapon to some shocked onlookers. "If you don’t wear a thong, your balls fall out while you bowl."

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