Bowling tournament promises gay old time

By Jessica Carreras

Motown Invitational Classic bowling tournament

Oct. 5-7

Cloverlanes, Livonia

http://www.mictourney.org.

It's never been so easy to get a perfect 10.

From Oct. 5 to Oct. 7, the Motown Invitational Classic gay bowling tournament is shaking up the motor city for its 22nd year. The competition, which will be held at Cloverlanes in Livonia, is hosting over 200 bowlers for three days of fun, competition - and an open bar.

For MIC Co-Directors Bruce Van Dike and Michael Odom, however, the tournament took a turn toward the personal when they met 15 years ago as league bowlers. Now, they share a house in Redford Township, two dogs and a favorite pastime.

The three day event begins with a 9-pin No-Tap on Friday night, which means that when bowlers knock down nine pins on their first try, it counts as a strike. Also that night is the "Battle of the Leagues," where officers from four metro Detroit LGBT leagues will bowl to find the best.

On Saturday, the real competition begins at 11 a.m. when registered bowlers compete in singles and doubles events. The team event, with up to four players per team, will be on Sunday.

"(The bowlers) come from all over the country," boasts Van Dike, 39. In addition to this, many also come from Canada and, in the past, as far away as Australia.

"We roll out the red carpet for our bowlers," Odom adds, explaining that the tournament is known for its 24-hour hospitality suites at the Sheraton in Novi, where many of the bowlers will stay. The rooms this year, he gushes, will have popcorn makers, karaoke machines and around the clock opportunities for bowlers to get to know each other when they're not competing.

Every year, the tournament has a different theme which have ranged from country western to Oktoberfest, where many of the bowlers wore lederhosen to their tournament and sauerkraut and sausage was the main dish at the banquet.

This year, the theme is "Detroit's Game Show," which means a slew of prizes and side games for bowlers to enjoy. "With the craze of reality TV, we thought it'd be fun," Van Dike explains of the theme.

"We're incorporating a variety of different game shows," Odom goes on to explain, including a Wheel of Fortune-like game where bowlers register to win extra raffle tickets.

As with most bowling tournaments, there will be side bets, a 50/50 raffle and prizes given out to the top bowlers in each category, which includes singles, doubles, teams and all events. "It can be pretty competitive," Van Dike warns.

Bowlers with lower averages who are just looking to have fun, however, are also welcome to complete. Low scorers may not lament their lack of skills when they hear that the lowest scoring bowler will also receive a game show-related prize: a gong. This idea, says Van Dike, was taken from the 1970s game show "The Gong Show."

Trophies and prizes will be given out at a banquet on Sunday evening at the Sheraton. "The banquet is always a blast," says Odom. "It's our way to say 'Hey, the tournament's over, let's have some fun.'"

The dinner and banquet will end around 9:30, but the fun will continue at Gigi's Bar in Detroit until the wee hours.

Although registration for this year's event has already closed, straggling bowlers are encouraged to come Friday night for the No Tap event. Open registration begins at 6 p.m. The entry fee is $15. Of course, non-registered bowlers are also free to mingle with others at the bars after the competition is over. "Detroit has a fantastic nightlife," Odom says. "There's a number of bars and establishments where people can hang out."

"We want people to come here, have a good time and see what Detroit's all about," Van Dike insists. "It's a great way to meet people and build camaraderie."

And who knows? Love may be in the air, or on the lanes.

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