Give it a Whirl, Chicago

Recently I tagged along with a large group of friends for a birthday celebration involving the “insanity, grit, and excitement” of WhirlyBall at 1880 West Fullerton Avenue here in Chicago. For around $200 an hour, you can rent a court with your besties, and flit around in little whirring one-seaters that look like lawnmowers on steroids, while scooping madly for an uncooperative little ball.

But be warned — by the time you figure out the one-handed steering and actually wrangle possession of the elusive ball, you realize the goal’s hoop is so sunken and crazily designed that you have about a one-in-a-hundred chance of actually hitting the sweet spot.

Not to mention the fact that the most likely way to score is steaming straight down the court full-speed to the goal, and, since there are no brakes on the Whirlyball cars, crashing head-on into the wall. After seeing that strategy implemented once or twice, I was convinced that my fun would be had cheering and documenting the night’s delights. My chronic neck pain endorsed this decision.

And in case you’re thinking “Well, duh, it’s also a bar, so everyone’s too drunk to play well,” let me assure you that that it is the adrenaline reward associated with Whirlyball that’s powerfully addictive — most of my group let their unattended beers grow warm on the table of the spectators’ lounge rather than miss another chance to play.

Enjoy this brief video clip I put together and remember, Whirlyball isn’t just for rambunctious 30 year olds and Bar Mitzvahs, it’s also the suggested setting for corporate team-building events, which only makes sense. Nothing will help you the trust of your underlings quite like repeatedly ramming into them with amped-up bumper cars and then sharing a basket of conciliatory chicken fingers.


3 Comments so far

  1. spudart on April 15th, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

    My brother (a Elmhurst resident) wrote a tips guide to whirlball at: whirlyball strategies and secrets.

  2. Elizabeth McQuern (elizabethmcquern) on April 15th, 2008 @ 12:45 pm


    I especially like this part: "It ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught."

  3. Christopher M. Walsh (chi_christopher) on April 15th, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

    A friend had his bachelor party there last summer. It was four hours of non-stop Awesome! And we were actually sober for most of it. The trick seemed to lay in being a little less aggressive than you think you need to be, especially when you’re holding the ball. By the third hour we were actually getting pretty fancy with our trick passing and long-shot goals. I had some choice bruises on my thighs and stomach the next morning, but it was worth it.

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