No pong intended

A Ping-Pong Bar Bounces into Downtown

Gaming lounge SPiN makes its debut Saturday with all the little orange balls you can swing a tiny racket at.

By Manola Secaira December 12, 2017

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SPiN's 10,000 square feet has room for a dozen Olympic-sized ping pong tables and aggressive art.

Image: Noah Feck

A golden, Instagram-worthy bathtub brimming with ping pong balls? Murals of a tiger head and a graffiti Mona Lisa? Welcome to SPiN, Seattle’s ping pong bar.

While the combination of tabletop ball sports and alcohol conjures an image of red Solo cups, SPiN’s cofounders assure that their new Seattle establishment, launching this week downtown, isn't about beer pong. The 10,000 square foot space sits on 6th Avenue between Pike and Pine and has 12 Olympic-style tables with plenty of backhand space, plus secluded seating for those sticking to cocktails. They've even addressed the worst part of ping pong: SPiN has designated ball pickers who run around picking up rogue balls. Genius.

Ping pong, also known as "table tennis," may be an Olympic sport, but it's pretty simple to play: Serve the ball, hit the ball, try not to lose the ball. Indoors, it's best to keep swings somewhere below Serena Williams levels. But even if players can't keep their game on the table, SPiN's cofounder Jonathan Bricklin thinks that that's part of the experience; he claims the goofy game is as good as alcohol in loosening people up. 

“It’s hard to have an attitude of being pretentious with ping pong,” Bricklin says. “You look like an idiot if you’re taking it too seriously, you know?”

Bricklin and his partner Franck Raharinosy first ventured into the world of large-scale tiny tennis after playing in an artist’s Tribeca loft party back in 2006—the pair say SPiN’s eclectic decor reflects the colorful New York City spot where they got their start. They started hosting their own table tennis parties at a shared apartment-slash-workspace shortly after; Raharinosy remembers that they had a ping pong table installed in the space before they had beds. For him, the attraction of ping pong was the people it brought together. 

“You’ll find out about other people’s personalities just playing a game,” Raharinosy says. 

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A photo from the 2006 Tribeca loft party that led to SPiN's inception. 

Raharinosy and Bricklin launched their first official SPiN, a joint play space and bar, in New York City in 2009. A San Francisco location followed in 2013, then Chicago in 2016 and Philadelphia in 2017, although they'd began searching for a Seattle space in 2015. The downtown SPiN will have a local vibe thanks to a Northwest-inspired menu that includes smoked salmon fritters and murals by Seattle artists Crick Dozer and Alex Codd.

SPiN Seattle will hold its soft opening on December 16, but a big grand opening bash won't happen until January 20; that’ll involve a mystery lineup of celebrity hosts, artists, athletes and possibly the occasional ping pong pro. Until then, who's serving?

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