A group of local newbies discover the St. Pete Shuffle.
I’ve never felt so incapable ever. All around me laughing children and senior citizens seemed to effortlessly reach their target. I was just happy if I stayed on the board. Wait a minute— I WAS still happy! And I was having freaking fun!
It was my first time entering the moonlit Shuffleboard courts in Downtown St. Petersburg. Every Friday night the courts have the St. Pete Shuffle— the courts open to the public for free games and equipment rental. This is one of those “if you live in St. Pete you HAVE to…” type of places. After years of putting it off I finally hauled my butt there. Now I can finally say because of the free admission and the festive atmosphere of courts this is a “If you’re cool and you live in Tampa Bay you have to…” big deal like that. I rushed to stuff a cooler once I learned you could bring your own food and drinks (I even saw families with several huge bins and party balloons trailing behind them)
My small gathering of newbies had never played Shuffleboard and have definitely never been to the St. Pete Shuffle. All our first reactions reflected awe at the number of people there. (My friends thought it would just be us). All nationalities, all ages, and all kinds of style were there. We had picked a great Friday to attend as a band played near the bleachers, a food truck catered to growling stomachs, and inside the rental building were booths set up to show off Vintage Floridiana photos and items.
It was easy to grab an available court, but we had to wait about 5 minutes until another long stick (the tang?) became available. (Supplies can run out so you just wait until someone is done with theirs) A dueling elderly couple was nearby and successfully intimidating us with their shots as our own practice ones went nowhere near our target. Learning to play was easy. There’s instructional signs around as well as members of the court giving assistance. It wasn’t long before we were using those tangs to slide the discs (the biscuit?) towards the target zones.
In between puck shots we sipped the Sangria and cookies we brought. We danced to the band playing. We danced whenever we got any points at all. What was this? Hand-eye coordination? Hand, eye, arm strength coordination? Shuffleboard is a strange game seemingly birthed from golf, pool, and I’ll even add Table Football in there. Partner Shoes and I only mildly improved in our aim as time went by, but it wasn’t enough to beat the other couple we played against… I’d like to say beginner’s luck but that was our first time as well.
Although we were the losers, Partner Shoes and I agreed this was too unusual and too much odd fun to be a one-time thing. You’ll definitely see us shuffle over there again.