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Thread: Coming to America!
11-19-2011, 09:31 AM #1
Coming to America!
My girlfriend and I are coming to the west coast next year in February for 3 weeks for a holiday. Whenever we go overseas, we make sure to take our badminton gear as we find it's a great way to meet people and stay in shape. We will be going to LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
From what I can see on this forum, badminton is VERY popular on the west coast, so we're not worried about finding places to play. My girlfriend and I are probably intermediate to advanced players. It would be great to find a group to play with around our level, but it's more important that we find a group who are friendly and who we can socialise with.
Would anyone be willing to host a couple of travelling Aussies at their club or can anyone recommend any good places to play?
11-21-2011, 12:52 PM #2
This will all depend on where you are going to stay when you are visiting those areas. If you post the cities you are going to be staying in during your adventure, i am sure the accomodating folks will point you in the right direction!
11-22-2011, 06:14 AM #3
Hey wicked, thanks for replying. We'll be staying in:
- LA (West Hollywood)
- San Diego
- Las Vegas
- San Francisco
I'm not too sure of the names of the places we will be staying in within those cities, but those are the cities we will be staying in.
One question is - do people generally keep to themselves/group? Are people fairly open to complete strangers joining their group for a night? Obviously, it would also depend on our relative skill levels.
11-22-2011, 01:35 PM #4
It all depends on where you go. Personally, i have had nothing but good experiences with people in different cities.
If you are in LA (West Hollywood), you can venture out to San Gabriel valley, they have 2 clubs there, San Gabriel badminton club(24 hours) and LABC (Los Angeles Badminton Club), both have very good players and intermediate as well. Or you can come to Mar Vista Recreation Center(West Los Angeles) on monday and Wed nights from 7pm - 10pm. You can also venture out to Santa Monica college on Sundays from 12 - 8pm.
Check the schedules before you go for closures. Los Angeles traffic is horrible, so plan on at least an extra 45minutes-1hr travel time.
In San Diego, there is Balboa Recreation Center, lots of courts and good lighting, friendly people as it is San Diego
In Las Vegas, there is Las Vegas Badminton Club, (Personally never been) but from what ive heard, nice and friendly people also.
There are a ton of places to play in SF, just look on this website for the locations.
Hope this helps.
12-02-2011, 01:25 AM #5
LABC will be closed for a full week from the 14th-19th to hold Pan Am TUC Trials.
You should stop by and visit and see top players from the Americas play against each other if you have the time.
12-02-2011, 01:42 AM #6
Seeing the topic I thought of this.
12-02-2011, 11:15 PM #7
Sounds interesting! Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be in the area during that time, but if my plans change I'll definitely take a look.
12-02-2011, 11:15 PM #8
Yes, that's the exact movie title I was quoting
I'm glad someone got it!
06-11-2012, 01:51 AM #9
I thought I would post an update to our badminton journey on the West Coast. My gf and I were very keen on playing in the US as we heard that badminton is much more popular than in our hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Indeed, the overall number and quality of stadiums and clubs on the west coast was quite impressive (esp. LABC).
Our first stop was in LA, so naturally we decided to check out LABC. Unfortunately, it appears that we did not choose the correct time or day (from memory, I think we went on a Saturday night) as the stadium was very empty with less than a quarter of the courts being used. We were told that drop-ins were welcome, although we did have to sign-up as members. The stadium itself was very impressive and the courts were of high quality. Playing in the stadium was a great experience.
Unfortunately, it took us a very long time to find anyone to play with. In Melbourne, a stadium may play host to any number of "clubs"; usually a loosely affiliated group of people who play at the same place and time every week. You talk to the person in charge of a particular group and they will usually introduce you to the other players and help you arrange matches. In the US it appears (at least to us) that people are generally left to their own devices to organise their own matches once they pay the drop-in/membership fees. There was a fairly large group of players on a couple of other courts, however, they appeared to only want to play amongst themselves. It took us quite a while (nearly an hour) to find a friendly couple to play with. If either of them are reading this, thanks for being friendly and asking us for a match!
Perhaps our experience would have been better if we had managed to arrange to meet with a group beforehand, but, as you can see from my posts above, either those groups do not frequent BC, or, for whatever reason, they did not invite us to their groups.
Regardless of this one more negative experience, we decided to try again in San Diego.
06-11-2012, 02:11 AM #10
So, our next stop was San Diego. We really enjoyed touring around the city and the Zoo and Sea World were amazing! We also had breakfast at Hash House a Go Go (the portions there are huge!).
Our next stop in our quest for badminton was at the Balboa Recreation Centre (as suggested by a BCer in a post above). As he said, there were many courts and good lighting. Not quite as polished as LABC, but still a good stadium to play in.
When we got to the stadium (on the Friday night), I asked the friendly lady at reception where the badminton stadium was and how much I had to pay. This was met with a confused look. She told me that people never paid for badminton and that new members would have to talk to the club president (or committee member) to sign up. I let her know that I only wanted to play for one session and inquired as to whether drop-ins were allowed. She said that I would have to talk to one of the members as she wasn't sure.
When we entered the stadium I asked a few of the members about drop-ins and who to talk to about paying and was again met with blank looks and I was told that I would have to talk to a committee member. I asked who they were and was told that they hadn't arrived yet. I asked if it would be okay to play until they arrived and most said that they thought that would be okay.
So we put our names on the board that indicates who is waiting to play and waited on court for someone to join us. I think we may have waited half an hour or more until someone was willing to play with us. In fact, the first time, we used up all our allotted time on the court we were on just warming up. Most seemed to want to only play within their own groups. We approached a couple of players, but they said they intended on playing on other courts. Finally, we ended playing with a few younger high school students.
We spent nearly 2 hours there playing with the same players as people appeared unwilling to play with us. I know I'm coming off as fairly negative here, but it was quite a dispiriting experience. Our real purpose of seeking out places to play was to meet people (and not simply other tourists). We left the stadium feeling rather dejected.
06-11-2012, 02:41 AM #11
Our next and last stop for badminton was in San Francisco. I decided on going to the Eastbay Badminton Club, however, given our previous experiences, my gf opted out of going this time.
I took the bus from Union Square across the bridge and walked from the bus stop to the Eastbay Stadium. I paid the drop-in fee and walked in. The stadium itself is a ex-warehouse/factory (I believe). However, the courts and lighting are very good and the ceiling is high. I sat around for a few minutes trying to figure out what would be the best way of finding myself a match. I noticed that the court I was next to was very busy and that the winner of each match stayed on afterwards. I asked one of the older gentlemen who was sitting next to me and he explained that it was a "challenge" court and that the winner stayed on after each match to face the next challenger. I think the maximum number of times you can stay on is 3. Personally, I think this is a great idea as people of any level can challenge each other to see how they match up.
I immediately asked the gentleman if he would like to challenge the winners with me in the next round. I believe he may have been doubting his own ability against the younger players, but I told him that I didn't care if I win or lose and that I just wanted to play. He agreed, provided that I "cover" him. When it was our turn to challenge, we had a great match. I think we won 2 in a row. To my partner's credit, he did very well, as they targeted him in each match. Thanks again for the matches.
Unfortunately, after that, he decided that he had had his fill and went home. However, some of the players I played against asked me to keep playing with them. Out of the 3 clubs I went to, I can say that Eastbay was the most friendly. I would have stayed longer, but I didn't want to miss my bus. My gf was very jealous that I finally managed to get some good matches.
Well - that's my account of the badminton part of my US adventure, apologies for the verbosity. I know that much of it sounds like a bit of a rant, but we were really looking forward to having some good matches and meeting people.
To the organisers, it may be a good idea to try and help new players find a group of people around their level to play with. However, I definitely should have used a bit of initiative and courage to approach people more for matches. Anybody visiting the west coast from overseas should keep this in mind as well.
06-11-2012, 09:00 PM #12
I'm not sure about SoCal, but here in NorCal, usually people do play in their own groups but there are people who are willing to challenge new people when asked. Each gym in NorCal has their own sign up system and usually at least 1, or maybe up to 3 challenge courts where you can challenge and the winners stay on and there are timed courts where you get 20 or 30 mins and you can play or warm up until the time expires.
And for someone who visits in NorCal, you might not get to play singles as some places get crowded. Usually players don't arrive until 7:30/8:30 or later.
Unfortunately you did not get to visit Bintang Badminton in South San Francisco. That gym has 26 courts so it'd be a nice place to visit. I, myself have not gotten the chance to visit LABC yet. I'm surprised you haven't visited OCBC. Their drop in is pricey and they have strict rules (must use Yonex or OCBC birds). But it's the gym with the most history in the US.
06-11-2012, 10:53 PM #13
That is a bit unfortunate about the earlier places.
Usually it's the initial "break the ice" phase that is most difficult. There are a number of strategies to get over this. My personal favourite is to challenge for a coke/fizzy drink, loser pays.
Later this year, I will go to Sydney. Not sure if I will get badminton there but will try!
06-12-2012, 01:02 AM #14
Thanks for the commiserations guys. Next time, I'll definitely try to be more bold.
We were thinking about going to one of the Bintang stadiums when we were in SF (I've heard they're awesome), but it seemed that Eastbay was easier to get to by public transport from where we were staying (although I could be wrong). I've heard of OCBC, but I wasn't sure exactly where it is located. From memory, I think it was a bit far for us to go.
I have to say, I really enjoyed playing on the challenge courts. People tend to play better/harder when there's something to be "won" (or lost, depending on how you see it). We don't have that kind of thing in Melbourne really. Players may kind of have an adhoc "king of the court" going once in a while; but there's no "officially" assigned court.
Cheung - Not being familiar with Sydney (as I'm from Melbourne), I couldn't give you much advice on how to find places to play or how to approach people. If it's anything like Melbourne, try to arrange beforehand with a club organiser (perhaps through BC) and they should look after you when you turn up and arrange some matches for you.
If you ever come to Melbourne, there are quite a few clubs that are active on BC that you could try contacting (Titans, CCC, Niddrie, etc). I play at Titans mostly myself. You're more than welcome to join us if you ever venture down to Melbourne (it's about 30 mins from the CBD).
06-12-2012, 01:31 AM #15
06-12-2012, 01:38 AM #16
06-12-2012, 06:38 AM #17
In the past I have played in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but not all at the same time! All pretty nice. Wasn't too anxious about getting great games as I was visiting those cities for work reasons. A bit of badminton on the side does no harm. Brisbane was great - the club I went to split up into a more social side and a more competitive side. I went to the social side and knocked around with half courts and a couple of non-exertional games. A lady I played was really nice and she went to the competitive side and arranged a game for me (I didn't even ask), then came one game, then a harder one and then another. Very enjoyable evening.
I have been to Bintang before (in its early days). Lucky to get a nice introduction and then almost continuous games. Depending on the crowd, quite a few would like to play a different person for a challenge and change of playing style.
I also went to the San Jose gym. I played with my friends for a while and then got curious. So I just went up to other people on other courts and knocked around with them and ending up in having some games. I think it probably surprised them with a novel situation of a complete stranger asking for a knockup and then a game.
Going early is always better. There is a better chance of empty court space and grabbing the odd person out for a warm up knock.
I won't be too fussed about not getting a game in Sydney. Would be nice to get one in just to keep the hand-eye coordination and a bit of fitness going as I have a tournament to prepare for soon after. However, not essential.
Next year it's to London. <rubs hands in anticipation> hehe
Last edited by Cheung; 06-12-2012 at 06:57 AM.
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