- Freddy Ramirez
Beach Bash, Culture Clash
It is, without a doubt, the most enjoyable location for a racquetball event. A stone's flip from the Hollywood Beach boardwalk, sand and ocean, great food, etc. The environment does not get any better for swinging a racquet.
One Wall racquetball, a format, that to date, has been mostly a sub-cultured game that is mostly played by a large number of people in New York City. The game has deeply developed in NYC over the last 20 years. Players have been filtering into the demographic from city sports like handball and paddleball, that trace their original roots back to the early 1900's, when immigrants introduced these games to their neighborhoods on Manhattan's Lower East Side and Brooklyn.
To racquetball players, the NYC game may not look like racquetball and it may not feel like racquetball. There are no avoidables. Players don't clear and hold positions. Even to most other Outdoor players, this game is filled with rules that make no sense. To them. As simple as the game may seem, it takes time to develop the subtle skills necessary to play it at a fast pace, the way New Yorkers play it.
With the increased interest this event has been drawing, each year has seen an increase in discrepancies during play regarding rules, formatting and conflicts. More people. More conflicts. The rules at beach bash have been tweaked year to year to accommodate a larger variety of players. How you feel about this process comes down to your particular interest.
I could probably ramble on and on about what these conflicts were in detail. People, incidents, true colors, etc. I could talk about just how stressful some moments were for me personally, when I just wanted to unplug, play and smile a lot. (And I did that... smile, laugh and connect with people... a lot. A sincere thank you to my brothers and sisters... you know who you are.)
But I will say this. Standing where I am, right now. I see this event as a HUGE success. A real one. Filled with fun, laughs, enjoyment and some ridiculously wild racquetball... all of these things in spades. A result of this success is One Wall racquetball blipped on a bigger radar now. With a ton of upside in view. The plus side far, far outweighs... well you know. Growth is not always easy.
I know that this summer, NYC's largest event in Central Park will follow many of the leads laid down this past weekend. That's gonna be interesting indeed.