Ping pong in bars is ruining my pint

No, you can’t have your ball back

It’s a Thursday night, you’ve had a long day, and someone’s suggested pints. But you can’t find a seat in the bar. No matter where you look, squashed and uncomfortable punters are spilling each other’s drinks and straining to hear each other talk. So why is there a whole room with nothing but a ping pong table in it?

It’s unclear when or why table tennis in bars first became a thing, but it’s fair to say no-one asked for it. It’s the most irksome sport in the world, yet trendy bars are acting like it’s the biggest thing since they started serving beer in pints.  Bounce, The Book Club, Blueberry Bar – they’ve got ping pong. Everyone’s got bloody ping pong.

Ping pong

It’s Thursday night, and the Book Club is getting intense

Ever since someone mashed up nightlife and children’s paddle games, regular drinkers have been forced to pay the consequences. If you’re sitting anywhere in the vicinity of the table, you’ll spend your whole night having people scramble for balls which have rolled under your legs, or struggling to keep up with any conversation because of the incessant *thwack* *thwack* *thwack* behind your head.

It’s not like pool, an inoffensive and measured game which is usually confined to old man pubs and sports bars anyway. Neither is it like darts, which literally only requires the bar to have a floor and a small piece of wall. Table football is a bit of a laugh, pinball machines are endearingly quirky – but ping pong is a different ballgame entirely. It’s insidious in the way that it takes over, a twee faux-sport which requires not only space for the table but space for adults who should know better to welt balls across the place like they’re Rafael Nadal.

Room is scarce in bars at the best of times – anyone who’s been out in east London knows that. Do you know how long a ping pong table is? Nine feet. You could fit three regular tables in that space, or a small dancefloor if you’re feeling cosy, but instead you’ve given up valuable floor space to allow grown adults to cane hollow plastic balls at each other.

The fact of the matter is, nobody’s going to miss ping pong when the fad ends. Nobody’s ever invited you out solely for the purpose of playing a few rounds of pong – and if they have, they’re probably the socially awkward one in your friendship group you don’t really want to go out with anyway. We only play it because it’s there, and if it wasn’t we’d all be better off.

Let’s go back to the old days, when music and conversation in bars were enough – and when ping pong tables were just, well, tables.