New York City’s Brooklyn Bowl music venue has crossed the pond.
“The idea is to bring our vibe there,” says owner Peter Shapiro of Brooklyn Bowl London, which officially opens to the public on Friday (Jan 17). That vibe is distinctly funky with a hint of patchouli.
Since opening in Williamsburg in 2009, the venue has offered a variety of choices, from top-tier bands to 16 bowling lanes to a Blue Ribbon soul-food menu, with video screens carefully placed throughout the building. On busy nights, it feels like a bacchanalia, as people dance and play, drink and eat while running up considerable tabs that help pay for the expansion.
Unlike the freestanding building that houses Brooklyn Bowl, its London cousin is part of the O2 Arena complex in Peninsula Square. “I got a call from a guy at AEG Global,” Shapiro explains. “He said, ‘Why not a Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 Arena?’ It’s a good challenge to make something cool in a place that’s not exactly alternative cool. That’s the goal.”
Thanks to the existing infrastructure, it was easier to create a new venue from scratch in a short period of time. “This used to be the Exhibit Hall at the O2 where they would do mummy and King Tut exhibits,” he says. “It’s over 30,000 square feet with an 800 capacity.”
Shapiro has a lot on his plate. Right on the heels of the London expansion, he’s about to announce the Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas club that’s scheduled to open in March. This will be a stand-alone building on a new part of The Strip called the LINQ.
“That’s 78,000 square feet, a 2,000 capacity, also Blue Ribbon in a building underneath the High Roller, which will be the biggest Ferris wheel in the world,” Shapiro says, excitedly. “It’s on a walking street, like Bourbon St. meets the Grove in L.A. We’re the main thing. We’re going to be open day and night. We’re going to be doing some big shows and residencies.” Veteran promoter Don Strasburg will book the acts with Shapiro.
Three Brooklyn Bowls, however, may not be enough for Shapiro, who admits that Chicago is being seriously considered, as are several other cities “that would make sense.” (Shapiro also owns The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.)
“The experience that people have at Brooklyn Bowl watching a cool show, I think that travels,” he says. “I’m busy, but I can do it because this is the time to do it. I don’t have my eye on a certain number [of Brooklyn Bowls] -- we’re doing it more, like, 'Wow, that’s a good opportunity, we should do that.'”
The grand opening, featuring the All-stars (members of Antibalas, the Afro-jazz band that performed on Broadway in Fela!), takes place over three nights, from Jan. 16-18. British singer Ellie Goulding was in attendance for a private celebration on Thursday, Jan. 16.