OMG you guys, Mod Betty has found her second favorite sport, right behind reading! It's shuffleboard - especially at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club in St. Pete Florida. It's been open since 1924 and is the World's Largest Shuffleboard Club. This has been on my go-to list for Way Too Long, ever since I read about it on Rick Kilby's Old Florida post on the St. Pete Shuffle. Click over there to see his photos from the daylight - we missed them b/c we went in the evening but I love the thought of Shuffleboard, Dancing, Bingo and Bridge! (Yes, I am going to rock retirement :-))
We made our visit at the very popular "Friday Night St. Pete Shuffle" This is a tradition started in 2005 that opens the courts up to non-members and members alike. Oh yes, and it's FREE! And BYOB. And a lot of fun.
We lucked into meeting two fab gals who made us feel right at home during our all-too-short visit to this inspiring place.
Club member Sabrina Hughes was posted at the table inside the entrance, and when we walked in I basically threw my hands up and confessed, "We're so excited to be here and play shuffleboard but we have no idea how to do it!"
Sabrina took us under her wing, and quickly spotting an opening right outside the club house, gathered the necessary gear for us and escorted us to our court. She then gave us an overview of the game enough to get us started, and we were off! Well, kinda.
As mentioned, Mod B isn't much of a sportser, and being left-handed doesn't help.
But, as if guided by some unseen Retro Roadmap-friendly forces, another club member spotted us as she was giving tips to the folks next to us, and totally noticed us novices (novii?) needing help.
You "shoot" the "biscuits" with your "tang" from one end of the court to the other, in the hopes that your disk will land and stay in one of the sections of the triangle that has points associated with it. There is one place in the triangle where if you land, you lose 10 points, and that's called "The Kitchen." Can you tell what a newbie I am to all of this? Biscuits and Tang in the Kitchen sounds more like a snack opportunity than a sporting event ;-)
Under Mary's watchful eye we became more confident in our game and actually started to have some fun!
The Story of the Saint Petersburg Shuffleboard Club is a heartwarming one as well. While it started in 1924, during the heyday of Shuffleboard, in the last decades of the 20th century interest and club membership began to wane as shuffleboard fell out of vogue.
However with core members like Mary keeping the flame alive during the lean years, in the past decade or so a new generation of younger players have taken up the cause of the club, and are bringing new vitality to the sport and the club itself. You can read all about the interesting history here. This good feeling was definitely felt on our Friday night visit, with music blaring through speakers, folks carrying in their beverages of choice and friendly banter between groups.
Many members we chatted with said while they love the game, their real inspiration for joining is the community spirit that the club has fostered among the membership, making new friendships and connections between people that they may not have otherwise met.
I can see why my pals Jonathan and Ashley were inspired by this gang - inspired enough to open up their own Shufflboard Club in Brooklyn, to great success (if you're ever in the Gowanus neighborhood, you must stop by and see what a marvelous job they did of it - here are a few of my photos from a quick tour I made just moments before Retro Roadhusband played a gig down the street.)
So if you're ever anywhere near St. Petersburg, you simply MUST visit the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. Even if it isn't Friday I know that they'll be happy to let you see this historic and fun place and be inspired to become a member yourself!