There's a non descript doorway in downtown Berlin, it would be easy to walk straight past it; there is no sign, no indication of what's inside, just a doorway.
When you open that door and step inside, the result is even more dingy. A grafitied room with a hidden doorway. Only the perspex window gives it away. Once you slide that open, you enter the world of Dr. Pong.
It's so simple. There's a big room with a single ping pong table in the middle. There's a dinky little bar that sells cheap beer (e2.50), a DJ that played what sounded like Turkish music, and a few couches, but no-one hangs out around there. It's all about the pong. And this isn't ordinary ping pong people....
This is all-in pong. At the peak of the night, there were at least 20 people walking around the table taking it in turns to hit the ball. If you missed a shot or hit it out, then you were out for the rest of the round. As more and more people sit down, the pace picks up. When there are three people left, you're running around the table like a mad man, until only two remain. Then they play off, first to 5 points. And once that's done, the paddle is banged twice on the table, indicating that it's time for everyone to join in again.
I haven't had that much fun in a long time!! I wasn't the worst player in the room (that honour went to "black turtleneck man", who was absolutely terrible but so interested in the game...he was often seen sitting in his chair, leaning forward, his head moving left and right and nodding a lot. I made it to the final once, and unsurprisingly lost. There were quite a few players who took their pong very seriously, bringing their own paddles and pulling out some impressive moves in the finals.
I can't imagine how busy Dr. Pong would be on a Friday or Saturday night, but the crowd on Sunday night were great. It was a great cast of characters - along with black turtleneck man, there was messenger boy, Che Guevara, and Andre the Giant. If I had that entrepreneurial spirit, I'd look into setting up Dr. Pong at home...it's a winner.