Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Susan Sarandon returns to the UAE next week to open the fifth branch of the nightclub, SPiN Dubai, in Wafi City. AP
Susan Sarandon returns to the UAE next week to open the fifth branch of the nightclub, SPiN Dubai, in Wafi City. AP

Ping-pong bounces into Dubai with Susan Sarandon's star power

Ageless Hollywood icon and political radical Susan Sarandon has become one of ping-pong's biggest (and most surprising) advocates.

Ping-pong (or table tennis, if that's how your ball bounces) has become a lot more high-profile since Susan Sarandon joined forces with the founders Jonathan Bricklin, left, Franck Raharinosy and Andrew Gordon in the SPiN Galactic club venture. After visiting Abu Dhabi in 2008 for the then-Middle East International Film Festival (now the Abu Dhabi Film Festival), she returns to the UAE next week to open the fifth branch of the nightclub, SPiN Dubai, in Wafi City. She kindly answered some questions we had about her and ping-pong.

So, why are you so into ping-pong?

Ping-pong cuts across gender, age and body type. You can play into your twilight years, unlike basketball or soccer. You don't get hurt. It's great for socialising because you play face to face. It's fun at every level of expertise... and at SPiN you don't have to chase down the ball. We just keep filling up a bucket of balls.

I bet you've had some strange/surprising/funny reactions since you got involved in all of this. What was the most memorable?

Well, in the beginning, it was just so odd when people heard that I was opening a ping-pong club; everyone wanted to write about it. But it turns out that a lot of people in the biz are actually very good and enthusiastic players - Edward Norton, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler and Matthew Broderick, just to name a few.

This SPiN club looks like it will be a little different from some of the others you have opened (note the gold table). How involved do you get in the planning and what special arrangements did you make for the UAE?

We try to keep the SPiN brand and philosophy alive while adapting the actual physical plant to the unique space and culture of each location. That means understanding, through the eyes and taste of our partners, what is best for each club. We have certain formulas for success but interpret that through the demands and preferences of each locale. SPiN is an experiential restaurant/bar/night club. This is our first gold table and I think the first in the world.

Favourite ping-pong move?

Haven't found one yet.

Despite her enthusiasm for ping-pong, Sarandon has said she's doesn't play enough to have much in the way of skills: "Alas, Sarandon was marked absent when the gods handed out the gift of hand-eye co-ordination," a Guardian writer observed earlier this year. "It would be fair to say she misses as many shots as she hits." Sarandon admitted: "I'm just not very good at it."

Favourite player?

Timo Boll.

Shoes on or off?

Off.

Singles or doubles?

Singles.

In your opinion, can you play a real game with one of those at-the-dining-room-table kits?

If you have consumed the necessary amount of tequila.

How did this SPiN Dubai come about?

We were approached, as we are, by many people in many countries and cities. But they followed through and we helped them as much as we could.

And why Dubai? You haven't finished conquering North America with your SPiN clubs.

Dubai is such an interesting futuristic city and ping-pong works everywhere - so why not Dubai?

Are you going to show us your moves on May 1?

N/A

 

amcqueen@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National