CITY ROOM; Nocturnalist: Table Tennis With a Twist: Strapless Mini And Stilettos
Guests wore black tie, and some thwacked little white balls on Thursday night when SPiN, a stylish basement Ping-Pong parlor on East 23rd Street just off Park Avenue South pitted the sport’s Olympians, national and world champions and others in a series of madcap exhibition games.
The privilege to watch matches between table tennis celebrities like the Swedish doubles partners Jan-Ove Waldner and Mikael Appelgren (who between them have around half a dozen world championships and a smattering of Olympic medals), cost guests $75 to $200. The pair drank beers and ricocheted the balls between them, high, low, off the table and off the ceiling.
A vigorously smacked ball can fly at speeds of 100 miles an hour, said Steve Magid, 60, a doctor and enthusiast. ”It’s like a cross between chess and motor car racing.”
It can also be risque, as a player named Kazuyuki Yokoyama demonstrated: When he stepped up to take on the Swedes, he promptly stripped down to his underwear – his secret weapon. ”It’s very distracting for other players,” explained Susan Sarandon, a co-owner of the club. Once, she said, Mr. Yokoyama played in her corset and a pair of fishnet stockings.
Most players wore (and kept on) their athletic gear, but Sooyeon Lee, a professional table tennis player and model, strutted up to the table in crystal-embellished stilettos and a red strapless minidress, which she hiked up as she set up her serve. The look, she said, is to further her goal of taking the marginal game mainstream. ”Table tennis is also a sexy sport,” she said, as a boy dressed in a hot pink gorilla suit just for fun trundled by. ”If I play like this, the guys will want to come and watch.”
Sitting at the opposite end of the court, Ms. Sarandon expressed a slightly different take on what she saw. ”It’s very nerdy,” she said, but ”that’s our mission: We’re going to make Ping-Pong cool.”