The Ping-Pong Club
And then, before it all began again, there was a club. A Ping-Pong Club, as it was called, and it did not show up on Google (perhaps not until now, with reference to the H. city) and few locals actually knew where it was, but most of the young people had at least heard of it. The club, so that you know, is open only during summers, only on Wednesday nights, and only from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. And yes, the most important thing to mention is that the club is only for friends, and sometimes for friends of friends. The password that you need to know – “J. ist dorf” – may be useless, as the real trial is to get there, to find your way, not very far from the city center, but in a semi-industrial zone, where hundreds of metal gates make it difficult to recognize the right gate, to know which parking lot to enter. As you go in, the barbed wire above your head, you see trucks lined up, and a few dozen bikes around the corner in front of a shabby house – this is your club. If you ever imagined that when you grow older, you’d have your own publishing house, your own bookshop, and bar, and movie theater, and university (did I forget anything from our dreams? A kindergarten in the backyard perhaps?), then this ping-pong club is part of our alternative bohemian dreams. This is the kind of club where the familiar becomes unfamiliar. At the beginning, the new comer takes baby steps into a large and colorful living room, as if entering the strange story written by Poe (the one with the red mask), and finding there as bartender the little man from Lynch’s movie. After half an hour, holding green Jever bottles in their hands, the newly arrived group of friends closely sitting together looks around and wonders “What’s the catch?”. The toilet – with flower bouquets in front of the mirror and hand creams for everyone’s use – makes you feel as if you’re an intruder into someone’s house who’s been so kind to leave the door open for you, but who’s never going to introduce herself to the guests. She simply enjoys having friends and half-strangers in her home-club, playing the “who’s who” game from a distance. And what’s left of the last open night in the Ping-Pong Club? A refreshing and lingering feeling of in-between-ness of a different sort than the one experienced in airports, transvestite clubs, subways, and other city places. It’s as simple and mysterious as that.