Brewskee-BallThe deal: Billyburgers pack Full Circle Bar (318 Grand St between Havemeyer St and Marcy Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 347-725-4588, brewskeeball.com) during this nearly decade-old league’s three annual seasons of Skee-Ball play. Teams of three roll their best ten rounds of nine shots over an eight-week period, which culminates in a March Madness–style “post-skeeson,” all in the hopes of securing a custom-engraved crystal mug filled with beer.
Note to newbies: The goal of the game is to rack up a high score (duh), so aim for the tougher 40- and 50-point holes when lobbing.
There was this one time…when, as patrons sang along to Weezer, William Ocean attempted a perfect 630 on his final frame to tie and force sudden death. The place hushed, Ocean nailed it, and the bar erupted.
How can I join? The next session starts June 16, so e-mail email@example.com. It’s only $10 per player per night, or $100 for an entire season, a fee that includes T-shirts, drink specials and trophies.
Pinball New York CityThe deal: More than 250 neon-light lovers at bars throughout the city flip out on Monday and Tuesday nights for Pinball New York City’s ten-week (plus two or three weeks of playoffs) league, which has been active since 2011.
Note to newbies: If you stink, seek out a bad opponent. And if you’re good, don’t be a dick.
There was this time when…two players manned one flipper apiece on the same machine to settle a tie, transfixing all the evening’s pinball nerds.
How can I join? Spring season is in full flight and ends right before Memorial Day, but you can still hop in midway at pinballnyc.com and win on individual nights. Plus, this league is free. Except for all the quarters.
NYC Trivia LeagueThe deal: Monday through Thursday from 8 to 10pm, scores of teams making up NTL’s network of quiz enthusiasts amass at watering holes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (visit nyctrivialeague.com for more info). Thankfully, questions largely focus on pop culture (famous robots, cartoon characters who don’t wear pants) and are mercifully light on esoterica.
Note to newbies: There is strength in numbers. The more members you have—you’re allowed up to six—the better your team’s collective know-how. And check the website: It often drops hints about an upcoming night’s subject matter.
There was this one time…as the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” rang out during a music round, everyone flicked their lighters and sang along.
How can I join? The nine-week seasons are free, just sign up online. Oh, and grand-prize-winning teams score a $200 bar tab, a trophy and tickets to shows like Rock of Ages.
NYC Big BucksThe deal: This gathering of Big Buck Hunter enthusiasts started this past fall, but it’s already caught on. For seven weeks, up to 12 teams of at least three meet at Ace Bar (531 E 5th St between Aves A and B; 212-979-8476, acebar.com; Tue 7:30–10:30pm) to take turns firing blanks at a pixelated screen, all in the hopes of winning a free pull off of Ace’s shot ski (yes, a ski with four shot glasses affixed). More booze on the house awaits Big Bucks’ eventual grand-prize winner.
Note to newbies: There’s plenty of cheering, so be willing to both unload shells and come out of yours.
There was this one time…when newcomer Jen squared off against a Big Buck badass, all of Ace chanted, “Jen! Jen! Jen!,” spurring her to an upset victory, creating pandemonium. That could be you!
How can I join? The next season commences Tuesday 15 (go to nycbigbucks.com for more info). A $50 fee covers a T-shirt, happy-hour prices throughout the evening and plenty of high fives.
Hash House HarriersThe deal: Hashing is part outdoor race, part navigational puzzle, and full-on excuse to run around and drink. Basically, a pack (hashers) chases the hare (who leaves a trail of marks in chalk or flour throughout town) until the race ends at a bar. If you’re not fit, don’t fret: Cabs are encouraged.
Note to newbies: Don’t be the bossy one; you may end up drinking alone.
There was this one time…when a hasher forgot to tell a date what the club was about. She arrived in a red dress, but was game to play anyway. Now hashers don red dresses once a year.
How can I join? To be a hare, make a request on hashnyc.com (otherwise, just show up). Be sure to bring cash for beer and pizza.
Royal Palms Shuffleboard LeagueThe deal: Cofounders Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert wanted to rekindle the spirit of the shuffleboard games they used to play in Florida with their grandparents. One Kickstarter campaign later, they premiered Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club (514 Union St between Nevins St and Third Ave, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 347-223-4410, royalpalmsshuffle.com), with 120 teams ready to guide and glide weighted pucks down-court over a ten-week span on Monday or Tuesday nights (7–10pm).
Note to newbies: Schnapp tells us, “Nobody’s any good.” So no pressure, just shufflin’!
There was this one time…a team dubbed the Flamingo Kids came outfitted in custom pink shirts embroidered with their logo.
How can I join? Round up a crew of at least six pals, head to the club’s website and split the $450 seasonal fee (which may rise to $500 so the league can afford fancy plaques for groups).
Gotham City Karaoke LeagueThe deal: Eighteen teams of eight members each (spread out over three divisions) convene over ten Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights, rising to the task of different themes (such as ’90s hits) in solo and group formats.
Note to newbies: Choose your team carefully: Some cliques are pretty intense about rehearsals.
There was this one time…when dudes dressed in drag for a TLC tune. Boys in skimpy tops? In. Sanity.
How can I join? Register at gothamcitykaraoke.com for the upcoming season by May 12 (for teams) or May 13 (for individuals). It’s $65 for the season, which gets you a team T-shirt and drink specials. But hurry: Wednesdays are already sold out.
NYC BocceThe deal: As founder Giovanni Marcantoni puts it, NYC Bocce caters “to people who aren’t old Italian men.” So it’s fitting that most NYCB rollers are in their twenties and thirties. The Manhattan leagues take place on grass, while Brooklyn bouts are on courts, but all go down weeknights from 6:45 to 9pm at various locations (see nycbocce.com for more info). Also, postgame beers are vigorously encouraged.
Note to newbies: Do not touch the white ball until all of a team’s rolls have been measured.
There was this one time…when a crew made a sudsy mess of itself while chugging from its championship Das Boot beer-glass trophy.
How can I join? Go to nycbocce.com to register by Monday 14 for the spring season ($59 per player), which starts the following week.
Aces and OperativesThe deal: Pretend you’re James Bond going undercover at a swanky bar with Aces and Operatives (acesandops.com), which hosts espionage-themed role-playing that combines immersive theater and social gaming.
Note to newbies: Beginners earn their way into VIP events by completing tasks like tracking a stolen work of art or finding a missing loved one.
There was this one time…when a burlesque dancer/evil operative trapped the players at a secret drinkery.
How can I join? Purchase tickets ($20–$30), create a unique character and complete objectives at your first event. If you’re not successful, there’s always next time, Mr. Bond.