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New York City Sports- Swarm Defense: The Newest Wave in Social Bar Sports

Posted Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 at 2:00 pm by Doug in Healthy Bees. More in 10075

air hockey in action

In the annals of great bar sports, a few classics come to mind – pool, darts, Big Buck Hunter. These days, however, a classic game is finding new life and making a play to join the mighty triumvirate, at least in the East Village and Alphabet City. That game is Air Hockey, a game long played at seedier dive bars around the Village, and around which has recently coalesced a new bar league: Air Hockey NYC.




Air Hockey NYC is a semi-monthly affair held downstairs at Manitoba’s, a bar deep within Alphabet City on Avenue C between 6th and 7th, and hosted by Jeremy, a sociable and easygoing denizen of the area. For those of you unfamiliar with the august game of air hockey, it’s a one-on-one “sport” played with one combatant at each end of a waist high table, both holding a plastic paddle. The object of the game, as with most head-to-head games of this sort, is to score goals. In this case players try to maneuver a flat plastic disk – think a hockey puck squished down until it is very light – past the opposing player’s paddle, while said puck floats gently on a cushion of air emanating from the playing service.

Air hockey is easy to learn – though it requires mastering angles and deceiving your opponent to play at a high level – and the atmosphere at Manitoba’s is laidback and welcoming to new players. This is one of the main draws of air hockey night, as the league is a great place to come and meet new people, enjoy a few beers, and, of course, play a children’s game with a bunch of other young adults.

While many bar events and “social leagues” try to lure in newcomers with tales of inclusiveness and fun that tend to be overstated at best, Air Hockey NYC’s host is unafraid to work the room and talk to people he doesn’t know or recognize, and will unabashedly show rookies the ropes of the game and make sure they are a part of the fun. While the permanent schedule for the league is still being worked out, the next night of play is this upcoming Monday, May 5th (see the website for information about future league nights). If you’re in the area, swing by, give the game a whirl, enjoy a frosty beverage, and say hello to some people you have yet to meet.

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