When I was a kid, we had a ping pong table in our house which was three-quarter sized and bright yellow. It had little phrases scrawled all over it, like “Great!” and “Wow!” which were interspersed with flowers and rainbows. I spent hours at that wholesome little table, perfecting my bat-and-ball skills and generally falling in love with the sweet little sport that is table tennis.
Then Bounce happened.
A group of us went along one Saturday night to Chancery Lane, where I’d be redefining everything I thought I knew about table tennis. This place is where my sweet little yellow table tennis table went to die, to be resurrected as part of this dark, underground, ravey mecca. The tunes blared, the bar was packed and the amount of tables seemed endless. I made my way to the bar as little white balls flew past my head like I was in some Eastern European sex show. Winners cheered offensively into the faces of their losing opponents. Drinks flowed, food was passed around and the atmosphere was infectious.
This place is like no match of ping pong I’d ever played. A few beers in, all kinds of things happened. The competitiveness amongst the group was other-level. The trash talk was abysmal. My mate kept making me call him Zhang Jike who, it turns out, is an Olympic champion in this sport. Who knew? As the night went on and the group grew more drunk, the tunes got better and the night grew more ferocious. We’d arrived at this place, laughing at the thought of who might win, but now, scores were being counted and enemies were being made. The noise of screaming and swearing seemed to get louder and louder still. Groups of lads-lads-lads slurred banter at each other like football-lads love to do. A nearby hen party screamed like little girls as they all forgot their friendship loyalties in a bid to out-do one another. One couple next to us seemed as if their relationship was being tested at the hands of that tiny little white ball. We were surrounded by animals.
We left Bounce a few hours later, feeling well-oiled. We were all still friends. Just. One thing was true though; we’d had a brilliant, drunken night of hilarity. PLAYING PING PONG. I mean, in what world does that even make sense? In Bounce. That’s where.