What do you think when you hear the words ping pong?
If you're anything like me, it will be a) recalling memories of discovering a dilapidated table on some weekend away, and having a half-hearted attempt with a paddle in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Or b) becoming slightly hypnotised by it during the Olympics in the middle of the night when a touch of insomnia strikes.
However… since last summer The Pop-up Ping Pong Parlour has been operating from The Dolphin Centre, Poole, and it has been so popular that it's still going strong after changing locations four times.
Pop-up venues grew out of company premises standing empty between leaseholders, and were first developed in LA in the late nineties, but they've become increasingly popular over the past few years, with businesses ranging from Campari bar to art gallery and tiny cinema to Gucci store, but I particularly like the spirit of pop-up ping pong. Partly because it's totally free, (The Dolphin Centre has partnered with the Borough of Poole and Table Tennis England to make it so - bats and balls are provided), and partly because you can just grab a friend, partner or colleague and do something a bit different for ten minutes or so. It can be an unexpected little splash of joy whilst others are finishing their shopping, or if you're on your lunch break - it beats sitting huddled on a bench eating a sandwich while watching the seagulls dive-bomb Greggs customers.
I recently gave it a go when it was upstairs in The Dolphin Centre, and wasn't expecting it to be so physical, but when you're not a ping pong pro and you're retrieving balls that are bouncing all over the place, who needs Crossfit?
We had the place to ourselves late morning, but it got busy around midday with a gang of well-behaved schoolboys and a few pairs on their lunch break. I had already done a quick search on the basic rules beforehand, and the winner is the first to 11 points, plus they have to be two points clear.
After explaining this to my opponent, he asked, 'So a game could go on forever?' Hmmm, not with my technique - I was thrashed in three straight sets. Looks like I'll need to head back at some point to hone my skills…
Sadly the pop up is shut for the moment but will hopefully be opening again in a month or so, keep an eye out on the Dolphin Shopping Centre Facebook page for the latest updates.
In the mean time, if you’re inspired by a bit of Ping Pong, head over to Falklands Square, Poole on the 19th June for an all day Ping Pong event!