Metro, Business

Ping-Pong Lounge Looks To Draw College Students

Blazing Paddles offers drinking and games near Fenway

Ping-pong lounges first appeared in bustling cities like New York, London, Los Angeles, and Dubai, and the combination of the famous game with alcohol, food, and other social activities reached Boston this March when Blazing Paddles opened downstairs at the sports bar Game On! Fenway.

Rachel Whitney, an event planner and marketing manager for Blazing Paddles, was a little surprised when first approached with the concept of bringing table tennis to the sports bar scene, but as she talked to more people, ranging from avid competitors to those who have not enjoyed the game since playing in a friend’s or relative’s basement, she came to a realization.

“Everybody is happy when they are playing ping-pong,” Whitney said. Blazing Paddles’ opening night reaffirmed this belief when she saw people of all ages and walks of life engaged in an experience that Whitney believes helps to create a sense of playfulness and healthy competition.

Blazing Paddles has captured people’s attention as a spot for both pre- and post- Red Sox game celebrations. For this purpose, the venue has prime real estate, as the lounge is located on the corner of Brookline Ave. and Lansdowne St., adjacent to Fenway Park.  The location has also been popular for outings such as birthday parties or corporate events. Even with the last few months of success, however, Whitney expressed still more goals for Blazing Paddles.

“What we want to do now, in addition to being a Red Sox pre-game, post-game hangout is to be also a destination place in Boston,” Whitney said, who hopes that people looking for a way to spend a regular night will stop by Blazing Paddles instead of the typical nighttime entertainment venue.

“We want to establish regulars,” said Whitney.

Whitney said that this can be accomplished through emphasizing what she described as the “multi-faceted” nature of Blazing Paddles.  For some, the venue may be useful for company outings. For the college demographic, students might find an interest in the different leagues and tournaments that the location offers.

“It really is the perfect venue for people to create energy,” Whitney said.

The venue’s name-as most young college students are probably unaware-refers to Blazing Saddles, a Mel Brooks movie from 1974. “When I found out I just laughed and laughed and laughed because I think it is so clever,” Whitney said.

For the university student, Whitney described what aspects of Blazing Paddles she considered essential to a first experience.

College students, she said, can be excited about playing in a Ping-Pong tournament, but the venue also offers a well-lit and nicely decorated bar area. Students may also be attracted to the 12 Ping-Pong tables surrounding the bar area.

“It’s a super cool Ping-Pong lounge,” Whitney said. “Simply, simply enjoy.”

May 1, 2014