It’s not just a game for the old folks anymore. Shuffleboard is all the rage with youngsters on the East Coast, spanning from Florida up to New York.
In the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, players typically in their 20s and 30s spend their Friday nights at the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, often drawing a hipster crowd. Participants listen to a live DJ, drink beer, wield sticks and push biscuits (the official name of the ceramic shuffleboard disks) across the court.
It's fast become one of the best nightlife venues in the area!
The Friday Night Shuffle runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. year-round at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club — Photo courtesy of Visit St. Pete Clearwater
It’s called the Friday Night Shuffle. And it’s not uncommon to find a crowd of hundreds at the courts. In fact, the St. Pete club is the world’s oldest and largest of its kind, with 100 courts.
And although it was once a favorite pastime for retirees, shuffleboard is now for the young and hip. So much so that New Yorkers Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert opened a trendy 10-court shuffleboard club in Brooklyn after visiting The St. Pete Shuffleboard Club.
They even named speciality cocktails after Floridian shuffleboard icons like The Bunny Hoover Mai Tai, The Jim Allen, The Christine Page Punch and Mr. Shuffle’s Orange Buggy Whip.
While the The Royal Palms in Brooklyn has only been open a short time, the St. Pete club has been open since 1924 – spanning more than 90 years. The club started with only two courts in 1948, but quickly expanded once the sport caught on.
In its prime, the club had more than 8,000 members and bleachers for fans to watch all the action.
Shuffleboard’s a social sport that requires some skill, but little athletic ability. And having a few alcoholic beverages shouldn’t harm your game, at least not too much.
Here’s how it works: Two teams of two people stand on either side of a 39-foot-long concrete court. Then each team takes turns sliding four biscuits. The goal is to aim for a triangular zone to earn points. And the first team to reach a certain score wins.
The history of the game itself traces back to a 15th-century English game called shovelboard; it was rumored to be a favorite activity of Henry VIII. The American version started around the 20th century.
The Friday Night Shuffle runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. year-round at the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, located at 559 Mirror Lake Drive. Participants can play for free. For more info, call 727-822-2083.
The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club hosted a 1940s-themed throwback night to celebrate the city's heritage — Photo courtesy of Visit St. Pete Clearwater