While many bowling alleys around the world are being constantly updated to suit modern strike-chasers, there are others that have been left as they were back when the recreational sport was at its most popular. Inspired by his childhood, photographer Robert Götzfried returned to southern Germany to document the many vintage bowling alleys (or Kegelbahnen in German) that are still functioning in all their retro glory.
“Kegeln is pretty similar to bowling but with only nine pins, smaller balls, and shorter lanes. It used to be a big thing in Germany in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s,” explains Götzfried. “These days this sport is not ‘en vogue’ anymore and it seems that mostly older people go these ‘Kegelbahnen.’ ” Götzfried spent around two years searching his home country for the most interesting Kegelbahnen, resulting in a collection of photos that brilliantly pay homage to the target sport.
“When I was a kid in the early 1980s, it was a common thing to go ‘Kegeln’ with my parents and their friends,” Götzfried recalls. “These places are usually located in the basement of traditional German restaurants. The old ones used to smoke cigarettes and drink beer or wine while the kids were allowed to have lemonade as a special treat. This is what quality time looked like back then.”
Götzfried is known for his love of symmetry and perspective, which is a theme that’s present throughout many of his projects. His Bowling Alleys series is no exception, though it’s particularly visually satisfying as many of the photos look like a set from a Wes Anderson film. Featuring colorful bowling lanes, old score monitors, and vintage seating, each image captures the old-school charm of these fading arenas where communities once thrived.
Scroll down to check out Götzfried’s fascinating Bowling Alleys series. For more of his projects, you can visit his website.