This story is part of a series that occasionally examines New York nightlife.
On any given Friday night, you’ll likely find Jonathan Schnapp galloping through 10 Appleboard jumpsuits in a second-hand shop overalls, handing out rules and strategic wisdom to Brooklyn’s newest players.
Mr. Schnapp, 49, opened the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club nearly 10 years ago in Gowanus, Brooklyn. And although the space functions as a weekend club on weekends with screaming music, glitter-covered bartenders and cocktails named after the great shuffleboard, the game is about much more than drinking while knocking pucks.
“It’s like trying to be the club against the night in a certain way,” Mr Schnapp said last weekend when a pit bull song exploded on the club’s speakers. “Never so crowded, never so expensive, never clicking on the door, never covering charges, never any of those things that make us not want to go out anymore.”
His strategy works – on top of a dedicated league that usually plays on the pitches on Mondays and Tuesdays, Royal Palms attracts hundreds of customers every weekend who play until the club closes at 2am.
But shuffleboard is not the only game New Yorkers can play into the night. There are bocha pitches in the Brooklyn Union Hall; Table games at Cellar Dog in Greenwich Village; Some barcade sites, which often have pinball machines and video games alongside drinks; And an abundance of billiard halls (including the Amsterdam Billiard Club in Manhattan and the Break Bar in Queens) are scattered throughout the city.
There are also a handful of board games cafes. At Uncommons, in Greenwich Village, there is usually a bustling crowd waiting for tables in the evening.
Eden Buenaventura, 30, and Crystal Ports celebrated Ms. Ports’ 31st birthday at the cafe last Friday, playing rounds of Guess Who and Wavelength – a “telepathic board game” neither of which had tried before. They said they chose the game because it has a colored box, which completed Ms. Ports’ puffy purple dress and each of their painted nails.
“It’s much better than just going out and drinking,” Ms Buenaventura said. “It’s fun because it’s an activity, you know? It’s more fascinating.”
Ms Buenaventura, who also participates in the archery league at Gotham Archery, said that while she loves to go out dancing, the game-oriented spaces were a great way for her to connect with friends and meet new people.
“You can learn about your friends, like new things you didn’t know before,” she said. “It’s nice to get the hell out of your apartment.”
Greg May, owner of The Uncommons, along with two Hex & Company cafes on the Upper East and Upper West Side, said these spaces are an important nightlife option.
“We are very unfriendly to drinking,” said Mr Mae, 40. “We are not a bar – we are an alternative to a bar.”
(He said all cafes sell coffee, tea, beer and wine, but the Upper East Side location also has a full cocktail menu.)
Brooklyn has several places for gamers to gather. The Brooklyn Strategist, at Carroll Gardens, offers a variety of games and tournaments, while Park Slope’s Sip & Play offers bubble tea along with its selection of games and snacks.
“My co-workers and I come here every Friday night,” said Bella Fey, a lively 21-year-old student who was there and played Magic: The Gathering. “It’s a bunch of nerds, and it’s just fun.”
“Especially magic – there are so many of us,” Ms. Faye said. “It’s a very universal game that’s been around since the ’90s, so it’s really fun to start a conversation.”
Jonathan Lee, the 24-year-old owner of Sip & Play, said game negatives can also be a nice way to connect with other people.
“As a person who also goes out occasionally, sometimes it’s just too much,” Mr Lee said. “Here you can still hang out with your friends in a healthier environment. Take some bubble tea and coffee instead of alcohol and just relax for a pleasant Friday.”
where to go
The Uncommons, 230 Thompson Street, uncommonsnyc.com
Dog Basement, 75 Christopher Street, cellardog.net;
Amsterdam Billiards Club, 110 East 11th Street, amsterdambilliards.com
Space Billiards, 34 West 32nd Street, 12th Floor, spacebilliard.com
Hex & Company, number of locations, hexnyc.com
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club514 Union Street, royalpalmsbrooklyn.com
Sip and play471 Fifth Avenue, instagram.com/sipnplaynyc
Union Hall702 Union Street, unionhallny.com
The Brooklyn strategist333 Court Street, thebrooklynstrategist.com
BarcadeMultiple locations, barcadenewyork.com