Is there anything more overtly aristocratic than playing squash at the Harvard Club (27 W 44th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-827-1267, hcny.com; guest fee $12 per day, court fees 45mins for $9--$12)? Eating scones on jewel-encrusted plates with the Queen of England is one option, but you’d have to spend a lot more than 21 bones.
Some of the best Ping-Pong playing—in terms of skilled competitors and available tables—can be found at the New York Table Tennis Foundation (384 Broadway between Walker and White Sts; 646-772-2922, nyttf.com) and Wang Chen’s Table Tennis Club (250 W 100th St between Broadway and West End Ave; 212-864-7253, wangchenttc.com). If you’re into drinking beer while you play, head to Slate Plus (54 W 21st St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-989-0096, slate-ny.com), which is less a table- tennis destination than it is a bar with Ping-Pong tables. Cheapskates can also play free every Thursday from 6 to 9pm at the Roosevelt Island Sportspark (250 Main St, 212-832-4540).
The New York City Badminton Club (646-271-3228, visit nycbadminton.com for weekly schedules) was founded by former China national badminton team member Chibing Wu, so you know it’s got cred. The group, which accepts both beginners and badminton aces, meets at various Manhattan school gyms during the week. You can also make an appointment for a one-on-one training session with Wu himself ($50 per half hour).
Our future socialist utopia will have no room for middle-class racket sports. Pick up a club and get swinging inside your batting cage of choice. The Brooklyn Lyceum(227 Fourth Ave at Union St, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-857-4816; $50 per hour, by appointment only), Chelsea Piers(Pier 62 at the Hudson River, 212-336-6500; ten pitches for $2.50) and Baseball Center NYC (202 W 74th St, 212-362-0344; $50 for 30mins, $80 for one hour) will prepare you for the day when white-shorts--wearing yuppies no longer rule. It may be here sooner than you think.