Steve is a nice guy. He’s a saxophone-playing, Bob’s Burgers-loving motion graphics designer from LA. We’ve been on a couple of dates, though our busy schedules have meant they’ve been “ok, we’ll meet for drinks after X and before Y.” I wanted a proper date: drinks, conversation, activity. I wanted to bend Steve’s ear about his dealbreakers and learn about his life out West.
After a failed Brooklyn Bridge Park itinerary (cloudy skies prevailed) we decided to go to Brooklyn Bowl. Please, please forgive our ignorance: we both thought it was just a bowling alley. When I rolled up on my bike and saw security checking IDs, my heart sank. Ugh. Another foiled date. Brooklyn Bowl is a concert venue. I wasn’t going to pay for some random concert.
Then I saw who was playing. Balkan Beat Box. Balkan Beat Box!! You guys, this Israeli pop-dance-funk-dance group is my Rhianna. It’s my Radiohead. I’ve been listening to BBB for nearly a decade, from college to driving home from gigs in Cincinnati to heading to shows in Seoul to cleaning my apartment in NYC. It’s just about the only band that could possibly have been playing that would have excited me. And they were playing that night. Aaah!
Steve had never heard of BBB, but he was game. He’s a pretty game person: since he’s also a performer when he’s not making graphics he’s good at going with the fun. We checked our various gear (him: a computer bag and an umbrella, the uniform of the tech guy. me: a backpack and helmet, the uniform of the schlubby commuter) and headed in. Isn’t he cute?
You guys, Brooklyn Bowl is gorgeous!
If you’ll notice in that second picture, you can clearly see someone using the granny bowling apparatus. My Akron-born mother would shame the shit out of me if I used one of those.
Steve and I decided to eat something before the show. Brooklyn Bowl does a pretty damn good salad and the pitcher of beer wasn’t as expensive as it should have been. The waitress used just the amount of pressure to get us to order it. Well done, Gina!
Technically speaking, my Veggie Buster was a sandwich with lettuce instead of bread rather than a salad. I ordered this instead of Steve’s insanely delicious-looking po’ boy both because I knew I’d be blogging about it and because I had eaten pizza for lunch and Taco Bell for dinner the day before and my body was collapsing upon itself.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much time for conversation. We talked about how neither of us have convincing celebrity doppelgangers, though since he’s biracial he gets compared to everybody from Lenny Kravitz to Barack Obama, which we both find a little bit racist. Steve was almost as excited about the starscapes being projected on the bowling lane walls as I was to see Balkan Beat Box. We talked about his mom a bit, and some mutual friends. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a bully when Steve and I talk: he’s so gosh-darned nice and accommodating that I can feel myself getting into a verbal steamroller and hitting the gas.
Aaaand the show was starting!
Brooklyn Gypsies opened the show, with supremely fun dance music that incorporated a belly dancer and a 5 year-old girl they grabbed from the audience and handed a tambourine. I assume the child is now a touring member. We got pretty close to the stage, and Steve very kindly fought his way to the bar to grab me a vodka tonic. Somehow, we got into a debate about the intersection of race, family, and identity over the soaring trills. God, I’m the worst.
By the time Balkan Beat Box started, we had elbowed our way to the front. I hadn’t been so excited since that Taco Bell the night before!
Tomer Yosef, the band’s front man, was insanely active the entire time. He jumped on drums, he played drums, he scampered wildly. It was utterly delightful. I didn’t know a lot of the songs (really, the albums I’ve listened to ad nauseum are their self-titled first release and Nu Med, so I’m behind on the new stuff) but everything was super enjoyable and high energy. (Also, hiiiiigh energy. Pot smell everywhere.)
Dancing with Steve was pretty fun. He has comfy hugging arms. He noted that he could tell which songs I recognized because I tend to only jump up and down on those ones. I had just had some minor foot surgery that day- I was being judicious with my movement.
Just as I was congratulating myself for doing so, wildman Tomer decided to do this.
As the crowd moved back to accommodate surprise surfing, a woman stomped right on where the surgery had been done. Lightning bolts shot through my body. Pain pain pain. I knew my podiatrist wasn’t going to be happy with me, but it was kind of romantical using Steve as a crutch for the rest of the show.
After a couple of encores, we decided to peace out. We smooched a little bit and headed our separate ways.
So how was the date? I dunno, pretty fun- but just as I think this reads more like a review of Brooklyn Bowl than the date, the night felt more like going to see a movie than the sort of conversation/drinks/proper date night I’d have in mind. I think I’d recommend this kind of event-focused date for either a second date or something beyond the getting-to-know you stage. I don’t really need like I learned anything about Steve beyond that he’s a true lover of po’ boys (he also had one on our first date.)
Brooklyn Bowl is definitely a venue I’d want to come back to, though, perhaps with friends. The atmosphere is really positive and exciting, and the space is stupendous.
As I rode my bike home, I reflected on how lucky I am to live here, in a city that can reward you with one of your favorite bands just for being curious about a place you’ve never tried.
New York City, you’re glorious.