We got behind the tables at Dubai’s Ping-Pong themed nightclub, and found it a non-pretentious night out.
When we first heard about Spin, we couldn’t help but let out a giggle.
A bizarre combination of table tennis hall and nightclub, founded by an older, otherwise respected Hollywood actress, on paper it sounded like the most eccentric of celebrity indulgences. We weren’t the only ones: as we spread word of Susan Sarandon’s bizarre concept to friends, colleagues, passersby, and anyone else that would listen, we were met with an unwavering display of bemused bafflement. Just what did this Oscar-winning cinematic legend think she was up to?
Our scepticism was entirely unwarranted. Spin is, quite simply, a blast. We should have had more faith: it’s a concept Sarandon and her business partners have road-tested well. After originally premiering the brand in hipster capital New York four years ago, the concept has already spread to Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Toronto. Dubai’s Spin is the first venture outside of North America, and such a shift was accommodated in typical Dubai style: the Wafi venue starred the headline-grabbing ‘world’s most expensive gold-plated table’ (right). Or as Sarandon herself put it at the launch party, ‘our most extravagant [venue] yet.’
Still, Spin is not the exclusive playboys’ paradise you may have feared. In the same way that public transport can level out all its passengers to one uniform class, Ping-Pong appears to act as a great leveller of social playing fields. We’ve encountered no snobby door policy, and while staff recommend reserving for large groups, it’s a venue you’re welcome to arrive at unannounced.
Inside it’s the same relaxed feel, with casual crews of different ages and backgrounds smashing glow-in-the-dark balls across the venue’s 11 tables. During our last visit, in one corner we watched a rowdy game of ‘speed pong’ going down, where strangers meet behind the table (every Saturday 8pm-11pm). In another there was a couple on what looked like a first date, judging by the tentative taps of the eager male player. Opposite them was a trio of serious pros who ordered nothing from the bar, locked into a testosterone-fuelled showdown. The thing all these tables had in common? The players were all smiling. In fact, so were the staff, as they scurried between tables collecting balls, offering tips and taking on guests. Who could blame them – at what other workplace do you get to play Ping-Pong in the lull between work tasks?
And that’s the secret of this venue’s unique appeal. With the right company a game of table tennis can be a great giggle, and mixing in drinks, music and a nightclub atmosphere just multiplies the laughs. If you’re looking for a touch of backspin on your night out, this is the spot for you.