It is gloomy outside, across many parts of East Texas. The sky sings with despair, the cries of rain and thunder, while the clouds float by suspended like feathers in grey evening sky. And yet, music still chimes from the inside of Green Acres Bowl.
“It is nice to be able to just sing and have fun in a judgment-free zone,” said Danielle Henderson, a sophomore at University of Texas at Tyler.
Friday nights spent at this bowling alley hold much more than a game of, “Who can get the most strikes?” Beyond the white walls decorated with disco balls and paintings of bowling pins, a trail of melodies can be followed into a room full of neon signs and pool tables. Beyond the bang heard from the drop of a bowling ball or a crash provoked by the clash of nine bowling pins, a throng of people gather around those performing at the weekly karaoke held every Friday evening.
“Karaoke is a positive way to get the negative energy out of me, especially when I am anxious about classes and work,” said Henderson. “I can’t sin. I just have a blast participating.”
When Danielle takes the stage to perform, she feels peaceful and in her element, serenading the crowd. The spectators sway their bodies and tap their feet along to the beats of various songs by performers such as The Rolling Stones and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Andrew Turner, manager of Green Acres Bowling Alley, says that the weekly karaoke night began ten years ago to give his customers even more of a positive outing experience. Turner says people come to experience all points of the karaoke spectrum.
“Young adults from all around Tyler come to listen to the good and the bad,” said Turner. “We started the karaoke nights many years ago and it gives them a good, fun time. They really enjoy it.”
As the night comes to an end, people reserve spots to get their final songs in. The couples sing love duets. The baby boomers scream sharp shouts of Rock-n-Roll. The young adults belt out pop and R&B; jams that they listened to during high school. When the clock strikes midnight, the performers have unleashed their inhibitions through their music. One by one, carrying the perfume of rental shoes and pizza with them, they leave the scene only to come back next week and do it all again.
“There are very talented singers that come out. There are also people who just do it for kicks and it’s still very entertaining. Karaoke is just a fun activity to do. A good fraction, about eighty percent, of the people are regulars. And that number keeps growing due to the enjoyment that people are getting out of it,” said Turner.
Green Acres Bowling Alley is located just past Troup Hwy., on ESE Loop 323 and hosts weekly karaoke from 8 p.m. to midnight on Fridays. There is no cover charge.