The grand opening of Power Play (700 Bellevue Way NE) in Bellevue on Thursday night promised visitors an open bar, free appetizers, and free rein on all the games on site. Awesome. Or it would've been, had the Liquor Control Board not caught wind that the establishment planned on giving away free booze--which is illegal in the state of Washington.
But nobody appeared fazed that they'd have to open their wallets up. Hundreds of 20-somethings decked out in suits and cocktail dresses came out for Power Play's V.I.P. opening party. (Exactly how it was V.I.P. I'm not sure, given that the only thing required for us to do to gain entrance was provide proof that we were 21.)
Bellevue has been abuzz in recent months over the development of Power Play. The $4 million completed project, which is connected to upscale bowling alley Lucky Strikes Lanes & Lounge in the Lincoln Square building, adds a whopping 18,000 square feet to the bar and entertainment center. The press release regarding Power Play declares that it will "turn video gaming from a solo activity into a social occasion and outing." The accompanying promo shot shows a girl in a little black dress and five inch fuck-me pumps tossing her head back as if orgasming while playing a video game. She looks absolutely nothing like any of the Mountain Dew guzzling, hooded sweatshirt wearing people I know who play video games solo.
Strangely enough, most of the girls at Power Play on Thursday night did look like the promo model. In a regular video game arcade or bowling alley, I would've been severely overdressed in what I was wearing. At Power Play, I looked homeless compared to the rest of the clientele. Check out the dress code on the official Lucky Strike website and the visual aid beside rules like "no white t-shirts" is a girl in a mini dress and fishnet stockings. Excess and ridiculousness rule here.
Don't get me wrong. Power Play is an incredibly savvy business decision on owners Steven and Gillian Foster's parts. Bellevue is limited to a handful of trendy spots like the Parlor, Joeys, and Vertigo. Young professionals eager to see and be seen will have no qualms dropping cash here. (In fact, it was still relatively busy when I returned briefly on Sunday night.)
The lounge looks what a Microsoft-employed multimillionaire's dream bachelor pad might. It features a full bar, original art work, leather sofas, and more than 75 game stations, including a laser beam chamber you must navigate without touching the beams a la the sexy Entrapment scene starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The most interesting game in Power Play is a Wheel of Fortune type deal that features unconventional prizes like Nintendo DS, iPods, and Coach purses. We spent $15 and got nada--except for a few tickets that could be traded in for measly consolation prizes like Pez dispensers and shot glasses. A guy standing at the machine beside us confessed that he had already spent more than $80 trying to win his date a designer purse. It's easy to understand why. If a guy wins his lady a prize like this, it's almost guaranteed that he'll get lucky again once he leaves the premises.