Essay Musician Cathy Morris calls Bubba’s Bowling Club both her dream and gift to the community. Located at 925 S. College Ave., Bubba’s Bowling Club, an all-ages venue for music, bowling, dancing, eating and drinking, has been open to the public since this summer. But Morris is forced to admit that November is make-or-break time for the club.
Morris says that she cannot afford the time it takes out of her career to oversee every aspect of running a club like Bubba’s. She also recognizes a lack of community awareness about her place and that the lack of a regular clientele may kill it.
Stepping into Bubba’s, one immediately notices that the venue is remarkably clean and bright for a bowling alley. There are four self-set-up bowling lanes, some pool tables and vast amounts of seating at tables complete with matching tablecloths. Quirky decorations abound, and there is even a separate room with air-hockey (which Morris laughingly refers to as “The Make-Out Room”) painted black, with fluorescent touches.
A dining room is in the back with booths facing the stage and bowling alleys, and a number of board games are available to play.
Everything in the place is immaculate — even the nicely decorated bathrooms. “I want this to be a place where people feel safe and comfortable, and where all kinds of people can come together,” Morris says. “Adults can have a drink if they’d like, but I’d like this to be a venue where adults can set an example and have fun, too.”
Walking through, it is easy to see how Bubba’s could be a great place for “all kinds of people” to come together, as Cathy wishes.
On this particular night, four bands are playing, including Plainfield-based Obedient Defiance. While the boys are used to playing to friends in Hendricks County, this is one of the only chances they have had to play in Indianapolis. They are running around the block, putting up as many posters as they can to promote themselves at Bubba’s. But, it’s really a case of too little, too late. All of Plainfield High School ought to be watching their buddies rock out on an Indy stage, but some will not attend because of the location.
This, too, is troubling to Morris. She says she has had several people share their concern over the locale as being “unsafe.” Yet, no one ever complains about Iaria’s, located literally next door, or Dunaway’s, a block away. And there is nothing that Morris wants more than for the venue to be the safest, most welcoming environment possible, as a “vehicle to bond cultures, ages and families together.”
The night before, Morris says, she was nearly the only white woman in the place. On this occasion, it’s just me and four other white, middle-class, Plainfield music lovers hanging out. Still, there would be nothing strange about a person of any ethnicity or gender walking in and playing a game of pool or air hockey.
This is where Cathy Morris’ dream comes into play. The concept of Bubba’s always was, she says, “To provide an opportunity for the performing arts to be a vehicle for strengthening the community in an accessible and affordable environment to all.” Families can have dinner at Iaria’s, and actually hang out together at Bubba’s, rather than going home and staring, unengaged, at the television. New and unexplored talent has a chance to perform and be heard where they might not otherwise, and anyone can wander in, shoot a game of pool and feel welcome.
That Bubba’s has been relatively ignored for the past several months is a waste, but not nearly as big a waste as it will be if the club goes under. The deadline for Indianapolis to show its support is fast approaching.