Last month I wrote a post about the growth of Ping Pong. Turns out that the sport is hotter than ever.
Now comes word that actress Susan Sarandon has taken on a new role – that of investor in SPiN, a Ping-Pong parlor that just opened its doors in New York.
The Thelma & Louise star, who discovered the game through her son Miles and helped launch the new place this month, is very excited about her passion for ping pong.
“I started finding out that there was this subculture of Ping-Pong and all these people that you wouldn’t expect are serious about it,” she said. “I just worked with Ed Norton, and he’s so committed that he trained in China while he was shooting a film there.”
In a recent People magazine Sarandon mentions that George Clooney is also a fierce competitor. In the same issue she explains why Ping Pong is bouncing back:
- It’s fun for the whole family: “Ping Pong transcends gender and age. Thirteen year old girls can beat 35 year old men.”
- It keeps you on your toes: “I find it’s better for sharpness of mind than crossword puzzles.”
- “It’s fast, fun, inexpensive and almost impossible to get hurt.”
An eclectic mix of actors, New York professionals, and master table tennis players turned out a couple weeks ago for the SPiN New York Classic, hosted by the Standard Hotel. The exclusive event, held for SPiN’s inaugural members, was a celebration of the club’s opening at their Park Avenue address. Fans, including comedian Judah Friedlander and Sarandon, showed up dressed to the nines for the celebration, contributing to what may have been the world’s most fashionable Ping Pong event ever seen.
In contrast to the large, luxurious Park Avenue club, a number of bare-bones clubs exist for hard-core players: a Russian outpost in Coney Island; two clubs across the street from each other in Flushing, Queens; a cluster of them on the Upper East Side.
At the New York Table Tennis Federation, a no-frills club on the border of Chinatown and SoHo, the only drinks come from a Coke machine. The place is unmarked, and you have to walk through the foyer of an apartment building and decipher a sign in Mandarin to find it.
USA Table Tennis, the sport’s national organizing body in the United States, said it has had a steady increase in membership of just below 10 percent since 2006. There are 457 Yahoo groups related to the sport, including ones for collegiate players (almost 2,000 members, 53 new ones in a recent week) and regional groups of about 500 members.
SPiN, which aims to bring the lesser-known Olympic sport into the mainstream, is described as a 13,000 square foot space on Park Avenue in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. It offers Olympic quality cushioned flooring to go along with it’s 17 individual table tennis courts and stadium style center court. Patrons can make a day or evening of it in the social club’s unparalleled facilities, and satiate themselves with lunch and/or dinner, a bar and lounge, pick up a new pips out paddle in the Pro shop, and after a particularly rousing round of matches shower off in the locker room before heading home.
I’m headed to New York next month and can’t wait to check it out!
Hours of Operation – 7 days per week
304 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10010
Table Rental Rates
$15 per half-hour for standard tables
$20 per half-hour for pro courts
$50 per half-hour for stadium court
$7.50 per half-hour for standard tables
$10 per half-hour for pro courts
$25 per half-hour for stadium court