It would be a night where escapism thrived, a world away from the hum-drum of 12+ hour work days, where exhaustation was A’s best friend. For A had been working at Wimbledon, awake every morning at 4AM, and home late at night. Yet despite the tiredness that was seeping into A’s bones, she carried on, determined to make the most of life. Running on empty was never healthy, true. In fact A made sure that she took time out, especially if she was burnt out and overwhelmed. Taking time out wasn’t just about relaxation, but also about doing what made her happy. And nothing made her happier than having downtime with her partner, who was the love of her life. Recently, date nights had been far, and few between, and she needed to fix that. But what would she do? As if by magic, an opportunity fell into her lap. She would celebrate love at Bounce Ping Pong Bar in Old Street. After all, she was dating a gamer boyfriend.
Both A, and D were competitive, and their shared love of gaming brought them together. Sure, A was a total novice in comparison to D, but Bounce Ping Pong brought old memories to the surface. A first date at Loading Bar in Dalston, filled with board games, card games, and video games. They had been to a lot of gaming themed bars in the past, but Ping Pong was not one of them. Who would stake their claim as Ping Pong champion? There was only one way to find out. They weaved past the street art and graffiti nearby, colours swirling, abstract faces, nonsensical narratives. The sun clung on, clouds drifting on by, a cool breeze wafting.
It would be a night to remember, where there were good vibes all round. Cocktails danced on ping pong tables conspiciously, bathed in blue light. Gurgled laughter cascaded around graffited walls, a taste of Shoreditch in a bustling bar. For there was never a dull moment at Bounce, where the fun never stopped. From the moment they stepped foot into Bounce (and got hit by a ball), they knew happiness existed. It didn’t take itself too seriously, and its raucous energy was infectious. If you wanted a quiet night out, Bounce wasn’t for you. But if you wanted a lively games session, with your other half, you had it made. As far as Quirky Date Ideas went, Bounce really was the creme de le creme.
For 55 minutes, they batted balls back and forth, realizing that they were actually both completely terrible. It wasn’t just the lack of hand-eye co-ordination, or the over-competiveness. She was pretty sure that they kept hitting the people next to them, much to their amusement. Still, they apologized profusely. Not that they seemed to mind that much, they were doing the same. The more that A batted balls, the more that she honed her technique. She had a habit of being over-enthuastic and over-eager, when she needed to play it cool. Soon she was winning sets, much to her delight. She was no expert, but she had upgraded from pretty s**t to just s**t. D couldn’t believe his eyes, could A be the ultimate champion? He tried cheating, but A was having none of it!
This was A’s special day, and she wasn’t afraid to throw down. The overly aggressive bops turned into smooth serves, yet she couldn’t contain her excitement. They were like two kids in a candy store, run amok. Egging each other on, they soon lost count of the score, freestyling serves that travelled an impressive distance. Well, that would be impressive if that was the point of the game. Still, despite their obvious faults, they were having a whale of a time. It wasn’t just that this was their first time playing Ping Pong, but it was the atmosphere too. It felt warm, and inviting, like an enveloping hug.
As A peered around, she saw there were other games up for grabs too. Beer Pong and delighted screams impending. Shuffleboard which A had yet to try, Wonderball too. For novices like A, Shuffleboarding was like a table-sized game of curling. On the other hand Wonderball was a neon-lit hybrid computer game projected onto a ping pong table. A vowed that the next time her and D came back, they would try new games out. After all, the roaring laughter, delighted shouts, and cheers alluded to its equisite posibilities. As the game came to a close, they ordered food and drinks, determined to carry on the night.
There would be limited edition Wimbledon cocktails slurped down thirsty throats, refreshingly sweet. Champion’s D’Uice was A’s pick, and nothing said Wimbledon quite like strawberries. It was sweet, laced with vodka, and strawberry puree, trickling. A dash of creme de fraise, was offset by tart lemon juice, and lemonade to balance on the sweetness. Served in a classic cocktail glass, A glugged it rapidly, thirsty from the game. On the other hand D opted for Courtside, served in a tumbler glass. Citron tinkled in apple juice, a heady mix of lemon and cucumber, with chilli infused. Yet, like Champion it was sweet, a summer drink with a slight kick. Both drinks exploded with flavour gloriously, until they were no more.
There was pizza too, but what would A choose. Her eye was drawn to two: the trusty Margherita, and a wildcard in the form of a vegan Pepper’No’Ni. In the end, she had to go with her numero uno, the Margherita, while D opted for Pepperoni and N’Duja. The Margherita was just as A had imagined. Fior di latte mozarella oozing, and gooey, sunken in a heaven of tangy tomato. Basil leaves scattered added subtle anise and mint notes, with a finish of black pepper. The pizza went down nicely, a heavenly delight, that A couldn’t stop chomping down on. On the other hand D (who was not a vegetarian like A), had the Pepperoni, with spicy ‘nduja sausage, and fior di latte mozzarella. He described it as being both ‘meaty’ and juicy, packed with animalistic flavour. When A asked him to elaborate, he replied with a cheeky wink ‘that it made him feel like he was in the depths of Italy’. However, the sharp velocity of the ping pong balls, quickly brought him back to reality.
They weren’t ready for the night to be over just yet, music verberating around the room. R&B, and Pop were the flavour of the day, as they moved towards the bar. Despite the huge crowd, it didn’t feel suffocating, and claustrophobic. Instead it felt welcoming, the chitter chatter washing over them like a summer breeze. Here they ordered more drinks, and laughed the night away. Despite having to get up at 4AM the next day, A did not mind, one bit. She was happy to sit back, and cuddle with her partner, as she watched the world go round. It was almost like all their worries, and stresses had melted away. For a few hours, there was no anxiety. Instead, there was utter jubilation, a blissful emotion, that made them close their eyes contentedly.
They had all the happy feels, watching the people around them light up with the exact joy that they felt. It was beautiful to see such authentic smiles, and the rosy glow that suffused people’s cheeks. For in the land of Bounce Ping Pong, boredom was banished. Instead there was pure unadulterated fun, swathed in enchantment. It was like they had all been cast under a spell, where Bounce Ping Pong was the order of the day. Soon, they would be back for round two. But for now, they bid adieu, slipping away into the inky darkness of night, the moon claiming the evening sky. Into the hordes that packed the tubes, they went, were the train delays were incessantly infuriating. But despite this, they remained happy, in a bubble of elation, that was quivering away.
Have You Ever Been To Bounce Ping Pong Bar Before?
Please note I was invited as a guest of Bounce, in exchange for this blog post, and social content. All thoughts are my own, and are not affected by gifted visits.