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Wenny Armstrong at Ballie Ballerson
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you run a grown-up ball pit

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Wenny Armstrong, 31.

Londoners are less stand-offish when they’re surrounded by balls

‘The vibe amongst strangers is great because you have to interact. I get that Londoners on the tube can be insular and ignore everyone, but you can’t do that in a ball pit. Or you can, but you’ll look ridiculous. You can’t take yourself too seriously in there, which is why I had to call it something silly. It can’t be The Very Serious Ball Pit! It had to have a name like Ballie Ballerson.’

People with hearing impairments love a ball pit

‘Our customers are about 75 percent women, aged 25-30, and we get a disproportionate number of deaf people in too. I guess that’s because it’s so visual, with all the glowing balls. We also had an old couple in who were 70 and 72. They came in on the 6pm slot, got in the balls for about five minutes, loved it and left.’

A ball-cleaning machine is a thing

‘Imagine an elephant with a big trunk that sucks up 18,000 balls an hour, like a massive hoover. It cleans them with these bristly brushes, like turbines with disinfectant, and then it spits them out the back and we bag them in nets. Every Monday, if you look through the window of Ballie’s, you can see them hanging up to dry.’

A lot of wedding rings end up beneath the balls

‘People lose all the obvious things – phones, keys and wallets – but we get a lot of wedding rings in there as well. You find a lot of men come in on Monday morning, like, “Shiiit…” We once found a diamond engagement ring that a woman had lost. She was there when we were cleaning the balls, and we found it at the bottom of the pit: a £25,000 ring! She was so happy.’

Londoners love a good pun

‘People say British people have a stiff upper lip and are uptight, but in fact the average Londoner is really witty. We get so many email enquiries from people that are filled with puns like “have a fab-ball-lous time” or “give me a ballpark figure”. Sometimes, if people write in with loads of hilarious ball puns, we’ll comp their tickets because that’s awesome and we want you in our bar!’

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