The Breakdown: Older Lawn Bowlers Put Their Hands Up to Save Club, With a Beyoncé Twist

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All the Bowling Ladies – Chadstone Bowls Club

Video by Chadstone Bowls

SYDNEY, Australia — When members of the Save Chaddy Bowls committee in Melbourne uploaded their parody of the Beyoncé hit “Single Ladies” to defend their club against the threat of a new stadium, they thought they might draw a bit of attention.

But by Monday morning, their video had propelled the three dancers, who range from their late 60s to early 80s, to semi-stardom. Uploaded on Saturday, it had been viewed more than 500,000 times in less than 48 hours.

“I am gobsmacked. I cannot believe it,” said Denise Wallish, 58, who organized the video’s production.

The committee is fighting a local council’s decision to name the Chadstone Bowls Club as the preferred location for a new “multifunctional indoor sports stadium” worth 25 million Australian dollars, or about $20 million.

Other sites have been proposed, but the Chadstone Bowls Club, which has been around since 1958 and counts more than 600 members, is making its opinion known. While brainstorming for ways to raise awareness, Mrs. Wallish thought of videos that caught her daughter’s attention and immediately recalled Beyoncé’s signature song, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

“All the single ladies — all the bowling ladies. It just felt right,” she said.

Unlike the 10-pin bowling popular in North America, lawn bowls involves rolling weighted balls, called bowls, on turf to see who can get closest to a smaller target ball, called a kitty or a jack.

In the video, the three women — Terry Foster, Wyn Hewitt and Janine Halls — dance in blue-and-white uniforms with bowls in hand.

“We’ve played lawn bowls for 40 years,” they sing. “Stonnington please pay attention.” Another golden line: “Lawn bowls is what I prefer, is what I deserve.”

It took an afternoon to shoot. The project also enlisted young club members who offered to teach the dance moves and a wedding videographer who charged a discounted rate to shoot the video.

“It was pretty arduous,” said Mrs. Wallish, who wrote the lyrics. “One of them says we owe her a hip replacement.”

Ms. Halls, one of the dancers and a member of the Chadstone Bowls Club for 17 years, said that she had heard of Beyoncé before shooting the video, though her dancing partners hadn’t. She called the experience fun, though “a bit scary.”

“We didn’t know how difficult the choreography would be,” she said of imitating Beyoncé’s moves while twisting a weighty lawn bowl in the air. “I thought I’d done my shoulder at one stage.”

While the video is lighthearted, the motivation behind it is a plea to save a vibrant social space that is especially valuable to older people.

“I’d be devastated if it went. It’s part of our community,” Ms. Halls said. To find a replacement for it, she said, “I’d have to drive and start all over again, making new friends.”

Around the country, lawn bowls clubs are reinventing themselves to stay in business. Some, like Bronte Bowling Club and Maroubra Sports Club, have converted part of their space into lucrative markets, restaurants, fitness centers or child care centers.

For older residents, the retreat of these clubs threatens a lifeline.

“For some of those elderly men bowlers who are widowers or divorced, the bowls club are the reason they get up in the morning,” Mrs. Wallish said, bemoaning the potential loss of their club. “It’s a highly stressful situation they’ve been placed into, not knowing what’s been going on.”

The Stonnington City Council will have its next meeting Aug. 7, and Mrs. Wallish hopes it will abandon the idea of building the stadium at the Chadstone Bowls Club.

“Now the community has let them know that this is not the preferred site,” she said. “If this doesn’t work, we’ll be going to the Human Rights Commission.”

“It’s all for the bowls, that’s what we care about,” Ms. Halls said.

Her knees have been sore since she filmed the video. Still, she feels it was worth it.

“We nailed it pretty well,” she said.