07.01.2019 – Culture & Nightlife

‘I fell in love with ping pong again a few years ago’

When you visit the Ping Pong Lounge, there’s no need to choose between drinking and sport. Here you can have both, and founder Oliver Hinnen has discovered it’s a combination that is also proving popular with business people.

The inconspicuous building at Hardstrasse 305 houses the Escherwyss Club, which attracts hordes of clubbers at weekends. But today is Wednesday, early evening. As soon as I step through the door I’m greeted by that familiar sound: ping pong ping pong ping pong. Two members of the Ping Pong Lounge staff are having a game in the main room, which looks vast when the club is closed and it’s bereft of partygoers. Balls keep flying off the table, but neither that nor my presence distracts the players from their concentration on the game. Spare ball in hand, they simply move on to the next round. To be fair, the first guests aren’t expected for another hour. But Oliver Hinnen welcomes me in. He opened the Ping Pong Lounge with Dominique Rohr. The two men were convinced that this sport, which so many people played when they were kids, deserves to be cool again. What better way to combine healthy exercise with fun and socialising?

The two men were convinced that this sport, which so many people played when they were kids, deserves to be cool again.

image

‘I fell in love with ping pong again a few years ago,’ Oliver replies when I ask him how the idea for the lounge came about. As a child he often played table tennis with his father and grandfather in the basement, and for six months he was even a member of a club. But then he forgot all about the sport. It was Dominique, the co-founder of the Ping Pong Freunde group, who got Oliver back into it. He started competing in the group’s tournaments and made new friends. This was another good reason for setting up the Ping Pong Lounge: ‘In Zurich it can be difficult to get to know people. In clubs it’s often too crowded, too loud and people are too drunk. We offer an alternative.’ In the Ping Pong Lounge the music is now playing, the lighting has been checked and the bar crew are getting ready for their guests.

image
image

‘My dream was to set up a Ping Pong club where you can play regularly,’ says Oliver. He stumbled upon what seemed to be the perfect premises on Langstrasse, but a combination of circumstances made it difficult to run the club and Oliver ended up closing it down. Now what? He was left with five table tennis tables on his hands. He looked at them and realised he wasn’t ready to give up on the dream. He wouldn’t get rid of these tables – they had another destiny. So he began looking for a new location and finally found it two years ago on Hardstrasse. At first the Lounge was open on Wednesdays and Fridays, but Fridays began to overlap with the club, so they changed to Thursdays. ‘Now we have people who come by regularly. We also organise a monthly tournament,’ says Oliver. Beginners are particularly welcome to enter these tournaments; professional table tennis players less so. ‘Otherwise the beginners have no chance of winning a prize.’

I look around the room – ping pong tables in the middle and dining tables down the sides. Hasn’t a ball ever landed on a plate?

At first the Lounge was open on Wednesdays and Fridays, but Fridays began to overlap with the club, so they changed to Thursdays. ‘Now we have people who come by regularly. We also organise a monthly tournament,’ says Oliver. Beginners are particularly welcome to enter these tournaments; professional table tennis players less so. ‘Otherwise the beginners have no chance of winning a prize.’

image

The Ping Pong Lounge serves mainly burgers and salads, and also caters for larger events. I look around the room – ping pong tables in the middle and dining tables down the sides. Hasn’t a ball ever landed on a plate? Oliver laughs. ‘It happens. But no-one has complained yet.’ He says it’s also a good venue for company events because stressed-out business types also find table tennis has a positive, almost meditative effect. ‘They seem to want to get in touch with their inner child and have a good workout.’

Poll

Did you like this post? Help us to improve HelloZurich.

Address

Ping Pong Lounge
Hardstrasse 305
8005 Zurich
Website 

Opening times

Wednesday and Thursday, 6 pm – midnight
Free admission