Let The Good Times Roll
Try your hand at kegeln, an old-school German bar game similar to bowling. Hilda Hoy scoped out a few worthy venues.
From darts to pool, dancing to karaoke, there’s no shortage of activities to get up to when spending a night out at the bar.
One classic pastime in local watering holes is
kegeln, better known in English as skittles, a pared-down version of bowling that was all the rage in the early 20th century. Though many of Berlin’s kegeln lanes, or Kegelbahnen, have disappeared over the years, a number have survived, scattered in bars and basements across the city. Given how popular the lanes are most nights of the week, it seems this beloved bar game isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
Right in the popular bar district of Kreuzberg, Tante Lisbeth (Muskauer Str. 49, www.tante-lisbeth.de) is a convenient place to try your hand at kegeln. The ground-floor bar has a cozy ambience thanks to mismatched vintage furniture and plenty of flickering candles, but it’s tucked away in the basement where you’ll find the charmingly retro
Kegelbahn lanes and lounge area. Because the wooden floors aren’t oiled, no special bowling shoes are needed, though that also makes the behavior of the ball less predictable (and the game all the more fun). Head back up to the bar once the game’s up, where the winner can celebrate and the losers can drown their sorrows. For a few rounds of
kegeln towards the north end of the city, Kugelbahn Wedding (Grüntaler Str. 51, www.kugelbahnwedding.com) is the place. The owners have transformed the space from a grungy dive bar into a hip, lively, and welcoming space, leaving, of course, the set of 1950s kegeln lanes intact. The other big draw here are the concerts and DJ nights, so when your wrists are ready for a rest, take a seat in the bar area for some musical entertainment. There are also lanes at nearby Bornholmer Hütte (Bornholmer Str. 89), which is the unrenovated, old-school, real deal, a neighborhood watering hole undeterred by the latest hipster bar trends. In fact, their lanes are said to be the oldest in Berlin, dating back to the early 1900s. That also means it’s not automated and the nine pins need to be placed again by hand after every throw, but hey, that’s part of the charm. Just remember that wherever you go, it’s recommended to book the lanes in advance to avoid disappointment. Let’s roll!
This photo, and below left: Kugelbahn Wedding.