Strike Out

Charlotte-area event brings a touch of soul to bowling night out


What do you get when you combine bowling with soul food, card and pool games, and live music? Soulbowl Lounge, a new bimonthly event that's generating buzz among hundreds of Charlotte's African-American professionals.

Wanna Go?

The next Soulbowl Lounge is May 17 at the AMF Carolina Lanes in Matthews, 11210 Brigman Rd., 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Group packages are available. .

The event was created in 2007 by Richmond, Virginia, resident and entrepreneur Johnathan Mayo, who started it in his hometown after seeing a void in social events for African Americans.

"I wanted to do something different, especially for African-American professionals, that wasn't the club scene," says Mayo, thirty-five.

After Soulbowl Lounge's initial success (the Richmond event attracts 400 to 500 people per event), several other markets were added, including Charlotte. (Two hundred and fifty people attended the first local event in November 2007, followed by another 360 participants in January 2008.)

It's simply the idea of an alternative nightlife that makes this happening so attractive to young and older professionals alike. The vibe is lighthearted and cool, with each event coupling DJ-mixed music and a spread of Southern favorites: macaroni and cheese, baked and fried chicken, greens, ham, and more. The crowd then enjoys a live band (think R&B or pop) plus a tournament-style House of Cards section and Corner Pocket area for pool.

"People are pretty laid back when the band is playing, but by the end of the night, people are dancing and doing the ‘cupid shuffle,' " says Mayo. "It's a fun atmosphere."

Categories: Buzz > Sports