Ping Pong Bars Invade Dubai Nightlife

Ping Pong Bars Invade Dubai Nightlife. Born in New York City, SPiN seems like an odd concept to export to Dubai. A ping pong-crazy city such as Shanghai or London seems a more obvious choice.  Just as improbable-sounding is the identity of one of its co-owners — that stalwart of left-leaning, thoughtful films, Susan Sarandon.  It turns out, the star isn’t only into ping pong, she’s also managed to tie it to Dubai’s best and biggest groove.

Occupying pride of place at SPiN Dubai is nothing other than a gold plated ping pong table.  SPiN DubaiSPiN Dubai’s obligatory nod to the regions’ glitz comes in the form of a gold-plated ping pong table.Ping pong? Susan Sarandon?  The star is a “ping pong propagandist,” Sarandon tells CNN by email.  “The game’s so simple, so fast paced, and so much fun.”   “It helps people recapture the playfulness they knew when they discovered the game at school or at camp.”

Nine tables punctuate SPiN’s cavernous 1,200-square-meter space.  A bar wrapping around two walls is back-lit in purple, oversized bulbs hanging above it like novelty items.  Under the ultraviolet glow illuminating the ping pong tables, orange balls click-clack back and forth like tiny fluorescent comets.  Black-clad staff scurry among the tables with small nets attached to poles, scooping up errant balls and replenishing players’ baskets.

The décor — underplayed kitsch with futuristic touches — creates a space like a stylized 1960s version of a moon base.An eclectic crowd patronizes the club. People in sweatbands and sports gear party alongside men in suits and well-dressed 20-somethings. The vibe is a stark contrast to the more pretentious end of the Dubai clubbing spectrum and very much in tune with the guile-less spirit that attracts Sarandon to the sport.

Sarandon’s own playing style?  “I represent those who dance while they play,” she says mysteriously.  But she has rivals.  Kitsch meets futuristic at SPiN Dubai.“Prince was playing the other day [in SPiN New York], and I was too shy to play with him.”  Lucky she can combine work with practicing the game.  Her next movie is called “Ping Pong Summer.”  Entry is free. Half an hour at a table costs 100 dirham ($27) for unlimited people.

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