Skee-ball is having a moment. You'll be astonished to learn that the oft-forgotten boardwalk pastime has found a new life thanks to the hipsters in Brooklyn and Austin. Williamsburg boasts of the "first ever competetive skee-ball league" and Austin's Historic Scoot Inn recently played host to the fourth annual national championship tournament, which features 64 rollers competing for the ultimate skee-ball prize.
Costumes abounded. Local roller “Doozles” donned her “Golden Bullet” outfit—basically an amber unitard—which was completed by Texas flag shorts with “DOOZLES” written across the butt. Another contestant named “Boosh” dressed as a shirtless ‘80s wrestler, right down to the rock-hard beer gut and Patrick Ewing-esque kneepads. For some, the silly skee names didn’t just serve as amusing aliases, but indicated the larger-than-life alter egos. There was, during the events themselves, esoteric terminology (right angle, cherry, chip, high five), copious puns (let the good times roll; from skee to shining skee) and a great many punny names (Flock of Skeegulls, Skeemelio Estevez, 8-6-7-5-Skee-0-9).
And then, for the final rounds of the tournament, there was the ceremonial installation of Purple Lane. This special skee-ball lane sits on the stage during the tournament, illuminated by the purplish hue of a black light. The crowd sings a slightly altered rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” as it’s put into place; a certain tipsy reverence pervades. That tipsiness is par for the course when ousted rollers have been drowning their sorrows, and casual onlookers have spent eight hours in a beer garden watching skee-ball.
Also, for you homers out there, the piece makes a point of mentioning that the game got its start in Philly and was popularized down the Shore. Consider this your cue, Philly hipsters, to re-claim skee-ball in the name of Philadelphia. Thanks in advance, Fishtown. [The Classical]