Balls – or where to play ping pong in London

BouncePing pong. A staple of youth clubs everywhere and not something I ever really envisaged playing again after the age of 14 but that changed last Thursday afternoon when I found myself with a group of friends at Bounce in High Holborn. Not just anywhere in Holborn, mind you. This ping pong destination is located where ping pong was first invented and patented by John Jacques III in 1901. How beautiful is that?

Going through the narrow entrance door, you walk down some stairs before a whole world of ping pong tables The tablesopens up before you. We were given a bucket of ping pong balls and a bat before being joined by our host who guided us through various team games including round the table and single and doubles games as well as an interesting game involving the whole team, a ping pong ball and straws. I’ll leave you to think about that one. Not really known for my sporty prowess, I was surprised when I actually won one of my games. When I turned to share my success with my team mates, their open mouths showed me that they were more shocked and surprised than me! How rude! I like to think my  off putting Hakka dance in between shots helped me on my way.

My friend Jacqui and me ready for some ping pong actionWhen we first arrived there were only a handful of fellow ping pongers but by the time we left at 17:00, I was surprised to see that every one of the 17 ping pong tables were full of pairs and groups partaking in bouncy fun. There were lots of people in suits, clearly from nearby offices. Shouldn’t they be working? Did they say they were popping out for a cup of coffee but really sneaked off for a midafternoon game of ping pong? Who knows? The tables were packed in quite tight so when it did start to get busy, it made it difficult of our group to get round our table. Well, there were 14 of us so if I went with a group again, we would book two tables so we had a bit more space.

Something that didn’t happen in the local youth club was playing ping pong and drinking beer (which was a good thing) but at Bounce there is a well stocked bar which we used extensively. There was also an interesting variety of food on offer. We chose from a great selection of pizzas including a butternut squash, ricotta and pine nut variety. It was sometimes difficult for me to choose whether I was going to partake in the ping pong, the beer or the pizza! Playing ping pong was an unexpected way to wile away an afternoon and it was great fun.




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