True to Soviet form, Ping Pong Club Moscow is best dressed as an acronym. For the purposes of this article, historical references and our command of table tennis vernacular – we will refer to the seasonal social ping pong club in the Russian capital as P.P.C.M.
Now where do we go? Oh, P.P.C.M. is cool AF.
Arghk built up an email thread with co-founder Daria (Dasha) Sheveleva to shed some light on the beginnings, the ethos and the ambitions for the club and its community.
ARGHK: To start with, how did P.P.C.M. start?
DS: It all started 6 years ago with underground ping pong parties for a group of friends and their friends, one tennis table and lots of beer. Editor’s note: And there we were saying “table tennis table’’ all this time. Note to self: Make ‘tennis table’ a part of our vernacular.
ARGHK: Are there any particular people that made this happen?
DS: The founding father of P.P.C.M. is Alexey Kiselev – a well known Moscow based photographer and filmmaker. Since then everything was made by him and a small team of his buddies and like-minded people. Today, besides Alexey, P.P.C.M. is Marina Kornilova, Nikita Andreev, Gena Rublev and me, Dasha Sheveleva.
ARGHK: Did you all play table tennis growing up?
DS: During the soviets there was no school or workplace without a table tennis table. It was the only distraction back then. So more or less we all did.
ARGHK: How is table tennis viewed in Russia as a sport? Is it one of the popular sports?
DS: It used to be on of the most popular sports. Today it’s not so easily accessible in the sense of ubiquity.
ARGHK: What is the standard of table tennis skills at a regular P.P.C.M. night? Have many people been coached in table tennis in their youth?
DS: There are those who have been coached but maybe have not taken part in any real contests for a long time. They account for just under a half of the people. But players of any level are welcome, except for professional ones.
ARGHK: What was the goal for P.P.C.M. when you started?
DS: The main objective then and now is to boost the popularity of ping pong among unprofessionals. Editor’s note: Word.
ARGHK: Can you tell me about P.P.C.M. camps? What are they and how do you decide where you go?
DS: P.P.C.M. camps are an opportunity for us to spend holidays with our gang – members of the club, playing ping-pong, eating, drinking, exploring new countries. Since the very first camp in Montenegro in 2014, we’ve been to Portugal, Georgia and Belarus. Next destination is Greece in the winter of 2017. How do we decide? We just pick the country and try to find the most hidden part. Then we try to make a tennis table show up there, which is not so easy sometimes.
ARGHK: I noticed you have collaborated with some great brands recently – do you feel the brand of ping pong is changing with places like P.P.C.M.?
DS: Very few guys were taking this game seriously and we are working to change that. There is more and more interest in ping pong so we’ll see what’s going to be next. Editor’s note: Something is planned. I know it.
ARGHK: There always appears to be an equal showing of women and men playing at P.P.C.M. which is not often the case with other sports that are overrepresented by men. What do you think it is about ping pong that appeals to both genders?
DS: The cool thing that we like about ping pong is that it’s not about sex, age or profession. Editor’s note: Re-word.
ARGHK: What do you see in the future for P.P.C.M.?
DS: More spots, more camps, more friends, more ping pong.
And on that note, some sage advice from Arghk:
- Visit Moscow in summer to play ping pong at P.P.C.M
- Like P.P.C.M. on Facebook
- P.P.C.M sweaters are as rare as a pair of Mastermind NMDs. Find. Then buy.