The Rise Of Social Ping Pong

Move over Table Tennis, the Ping Pong community is on the rise! ADPP has been investigating the recent increase in ‘social Ping Pong’. Table Tennis has come a long way since it was first played on the dining room tables at rich aristocrat’s dinner parties. For a full story on the history of the sport click here. The sport is now played at a professional level through competitions like the ITTF Pro Tour. There are domestic leagues present in most countries across Europe and in Asia, and the sport at junior level is as competitive as it has ever been. The area of the sport that has seen the biggest rise over the last year is ‘social Ping Pong’.

Pongathon provides a social playground of art, design, music and ping pong located in London. After Dark Ping Pong caught up with Adrian, one of the Pongathon founders, for a Q&A.

Why and when did Pongathon start up?
Pongathon started up because I have a passion for ping pong and music and wanted to create a social and innovative way to enjoy the game. We launched in October at Richmix in Shoreditch and the response has been quite frankly overwhelming!

Are the founders Ping Pong players?
Only me, I am the one that misspent my childhood playing in Schools, cold Church Halls and drafty youth clubs! Actually got to junior county standard before retiring from the game at the tender age of 16. This was due to discovering girls!

What type of player do you get playing at Pongathon?
Everyone is over 18 to start with as Pongathon’s are all about giving the pub a break and enjoying a ‘responsible’ drink with your friends and work colleagues whilst engaging in some healthy ping pong activity! What type of people? Well interestingly enough our male/ female ratio is 50/50 which tells us the ladies are welcoming the change to something they like playing for a change!
How has the Pongathon concept evolved over time and has the goals that you set when you started, changed a lot?
Pongathon’s goals have always been to provide as many people the opportunity to access and engage in social ping pong in a fun, exciting and innovative way. In that respect nothing has changed. What has been influential in the way Pongathon as a concept has evolved since we launched, has been the incredible rise in ping pong’s popularity across the US and Europe from University campuses to bars and venues, places of work, galleries and public spaces… everyone is spinning and Pongathon is now engaging across all those platforms.

Do you think that Ping Pong as a sport, and as a means of socialising is on the rise in the UK? And if so, why?
Well the sport is commonly referred to as Table Tennis (as in the Olympic Sport) which I think as a result of what is happening in social ping pong is introducing the game to more people. That can only be a good thing as Table Tennis itself has had in the past a bit of a reputation for being male dominated, rather unsexy and played in sterile unsocial environments. At Pongathon we want to play our part in helping to increase and improve Table Tennis’s image and as a former player myself want to give back something to a sport I love.

Ping Pong is on the rise because in the past 20 years table football, pool and darts have dominated the after work and social spaces we mostly occupy eg pubs! Ping pong represents a new way to socially engage in a similar environment but it’s much more inclusive, active, fun and cost effective. This is why offices, pubs, function rooms and social spaces up and down the country are buying ping pong tables! Ping pong is leading the new social sports revolution!

What do you have planned for 2012 in terms of your goals as a franchise and do you haveany events planned?
There will be a Pongathon UK UniversityTour in early in 2012. Pongathon will also beappearing at several independentand major UK Summer Festivals next year as well as hosting events in other major cities AND popping up in the most unusual of places!Our Pongathon residency at Richmix in Shoreditch has expanded to x15 tables at each event and will be running every other week from February 7th 2012 of which we will be running even more crazy competitions including our now infamous Beat-The-Pongbot Challenge, a specially adapted ping pong robot that takes on all-comers! Everything can be found of course at and at our community hub at

Finally, where do you see Pongathon in 5 years time?
Our plan is to be hosting social ping pong events in every major city in the UK and across Europe and be regularly touring. National and International Social Pongathon Tournaments and Pongathon Event Academies where people can enrol and learn how to run and be involved in social ping pong events.

Adrian touched on the subject that Table Tennis has a stigma attached to it and clubs like Pongathon are what the sports needs in order to break away from the convention ideas many have about it. It is a new era for Ping Pong, and those who enjoy playing the sport at a social level can now leave the solidarity of the garage and into venues that are popping up all over the capital. Even if you attend a promotional event, no membership required; I would highly recommend it!

For any more information on clubs, competitions and social events please feel free to contact our team using the ‘contact us’ page at the top! Happy playing!


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