These events, held every other Tuesday, are billed as “the coolest ping pong parties on the planet” and involve two floors of tables with live music, visual art performances and a bar. We caught up with Pongathon’s founder, Adrian Leigh, to find out what all the fuss is about.
Why did you set up Pongathon?
I have a passion for ping pong and music, and Pongathon was created to engage a new generation of players through music and innovative events. We launched it in October 2011 at Rich Mix in Shoreditch and the response, quite frankly, has been incredible.
What’s happened since then?
I’d like to call it a ping pong renaissance. Social ping pong nights and ping pong promoters seem to be springing up everywhere, including at Wilton’s Music Hall and the Kings of Ping from Bristol.
What do you put this down to?
Over the past 20 years or so table football, pool and darts have pretty much been the staples in bars and pubs, usually played by blokes and looking pretty uninteresting for anyone watching. Ping pong is much more inclusive – anyone can participate and enjoy the game, regardless of skill, age or gender.
What’s the format?
At Rich Mix we provide 15 tables with bats and balls. You can book in advance for an hour or for the whole night for two to 20 players. We have a ping pong playing robot named “The Pongbot” which throws out balls at various speeds and angles. “Beat The Pongbot Challenge” is our most popular competition and it runs all night. DJs spin classic tunes, projected visuals are mixed with ping pong clips and our pros are on hand to provide useful tips and entertain the audience with some exhibition play.
We heard you’ve been involved with Google?
Google asked us to help create more awareness around the Google Places app campaign. They saw Pongathon as a brand that would appeal to their target demographic and they’re running a competition to win table time.
What does the future hold for Pongathon?
There will be a Pongathon university tour in early in 2012 followed by a national uni Pongathon tournament, then this summer we’ll be at several festivals. In London, Pongathon Tuesdays at Rich Mix will become a weekly event this spring.
As featured in the London Evening Standard