Driving down 4th Ave. N for the millionth time, I'm at the same red light--the one with the Coliseum advertising their Wednesday afternoon tea dances to my left; and the St. Pete Lawn Bowling Club welcoming the public with free lessons to my right.
"But I'm not their kind of public," I think to myself. "I've seen Cocoon. By their their standards, I'm a mere whippersnapper . I don't foxtrot and I don't do shuffleboard."Between the hours of 7-11 p.m., the club opens its doors to the public.
As it turns out, The St. Pete Shuffleboard Club is one of the city's oldest organizations and best kept secrets. Established in 1924 and approaching its 90th year, the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club is still one of the grandest ways to spend a Friday evening in The Burg. Located on Mirror Lake, just walking distance from the chic nightspots of Downtown St. Pete, is this throwback of Floridian Americana. From the exterior, not much has changed. The buildings are vintage St. Pete, resort-style with sparkling white masonry and wrought iron gates. Step inside the the main clubhouse with its lofty ceilings and absence of air conditioning and you can feel the spirit of the Golden Age of Florida. Admission is free, lessons are free, usage of the shuffleboard courts and equipment, all free. And as if that weren't inviting enough, you're welcomed to bring your own coolers stocked with libations. Donations are welcomed and encouraged.
On this particular evening, there aren't any octogenarians pushing biscuits down the courts. This is the under-40 crowd: rowdy college kids, young families, singles ready to mingle. We were greeted by the president of the club, a friendly, fellow whippersnapper named Christine. She explained the basic rules of the game to us.
This is not your grandmother's shuffleboard. In fact, this place is nothing like I thought it would be--and I had the time of my life.So don't make the same mistake I did. Playing shuffleboard on a Friday night is still a pretty cool way to kick off your weekend in The Burg.