Take a spin through Austin’s new pingpong club, which opens Friday

New venue occupies old Antone’s space, offers hip new spin on old-school game


Highlights

Spin, a new venue and pingpong club, will open May 18 in the old Antone’s space on West Fifth Street.

The venue will host pingpong leagues, recreational play and performances.

The concept started in New York City, and Austin is the seventh location.

Remember playing pingpong in the garage with your family when you were a kid?

Well, this isn’t like that.

Spin Ping Pong, which opens its doors to the public at 9 p.m. May 18, feels more like a nightclub than a pingpong gym, with its brass tub filled with orange (only orange!) pingpong balls, costumed pro players, chain-link curtains, murals and DJ booth. And did we mention that it’s housed in the old Antone’s space on West Fifth Street?

The Spin concept started as a series of pingpong parties in New York City in 2007. “We quickly attracted the most eccentric New Yorkers, along with notable musicians, artists and professional pingpong players,” says co-founder Jonathan Bricklin.

PICK UP YOUR AX: At Austin warehouse, players drink beer, throw sharp objects

The first Spin opened in 2009 in New York City’s Flatiron district (where a 90-year-old customer now trains regularly with a pro), and the Austin venue marks the club’s seventh incarnation. “Because of the incredible culture of music and art and sports that exist here, it’s an absolute perfect match for us,” Bricklin says.

The 9,000-square-foot club occupies the former Antone’s at 213 West Fifth St. Look closely and you’ll recognize the exposed wooden ceiling beams and concert posters, which cover the rear hallway. Unlike the garage where you played pingpong as a kid, this club will serve cocktails, and the kitchen will turn out flatbreads, tacos and other shareable foods. 

Customers can play at any of 14 regulation tables. Spin will host tournament play, private lessons, corporate parties and drop-in recreational play (players younger than 21 are welcome during the day). One employee, armed with a special net-on-the-end-of-a-pole device, patrols the room, collecting stray balls so you don’t have to make the effort to pick them up.

Center court is reserved for what can be described only as pingpong performance art — Friday night shows with pros in costume, demonstrating techniques, challenging customers to return wicked serves and inviting the audience to participate in group games.

“It’s like a sporting show meets Broadway production,” says Ashley Orfus of Spin.

MORE FUN: 14 Austin bars where you can play games

Need some pro tips? Malin Pettersson, 26, a Swedish pro who rotates among Spin’s clubs, can beat you in a match even if she’s using her cellphone as a paddle.

She’ll also demonstrate proper form, which includes standing at arm’s length from the table and facing it squarely, so you can pivot right or left depending on the serve. Pay attention to the tilt of your paddle, too. That will determine how high or low you return the ball back over the net (assuming you actually hit it).

Pettersson, who started playing by standing on a chair at the end of a pingpong table when she was 3, served a few balls my way, and they came so fast across the table that I could barely see them. She slowed down a tad and let me practice fielding them.

The concept meshes well with Austin’s tech culture, where pingpong has traditionally flourished, Orfus says. “We use pingpong as a way to socialize,” she says. “You need more than one person to play, so you automatically connect with somebody.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

Today’s horoscopes - Sunday, May 20

ARIES (March 21-April 19). You depend on others for many of your needs, but you don’t necessarily stop and wonder what goes into producing the results. Today changes that, as you’ll find out exactly what you’re buying, how it’s made and more. TAURUS (April 20-May 20). Control your destiny by consciously taking responsibility...
Today’s birthdays - Sunday, May 20
Today’s birthdays - Sunday, May 20

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-author James McEachin is 88. Actor Anthony Zerbe is 82. Actor David Proval is 76. Singer-actress Cher is 72. Actor-comedian Dave Thomas is 70. Rock musician Warren Cann is 68. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is 67. Former New York Gov. David Paterson is 64. Delaware Gov. John Carney is 62. Actor Dean Butler is 62. TV-radio...
Fun with nature in Austin and more family fun this week, May 20-26
Fun with nature in Austin and more family fun this week, May 20-26

Events Woodland Faerie Trail. See fairy houses on this trail. Saturday-Aug. 10. Free with admission. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. zilkergarden.org Museums Bullock Museum. Story time: Inch by Inch. A story time about size. 10 a.m. Thursday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave...
Uptick in vector-borne illnesses in US and what it means to you
Uptick in vector-borne illnesses in US and what it means to you

Illnesses caused by disease-infected ticks, mosquitoes and fleas have tripled in the U.S. in recent years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lyme disease is the most common illness attributed to ticks. “It’s the most common vector-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere and in North America...
Scientists devise a game to find a cure for Alzheimer’s
Scientists devise a game to find a cure for Alzheimer’s

“Stall Catchers” Alzheimer’s research game stallcatchers.com —- Want to cure Alzheimer’s? Get in line. Researchers have long been puzzled by the disease and vexed by how long it’s taking to unravel its mysteries. One group of scientists is helping speed up that process with assistance from the public. “Stall...
More Stories