A load of balls: childs play for adults in new Croydon bar

Nicolle Okoren at The Funhouse Croydon Pic: Lisa Henderson

Have you ever watched a bunch of hyperactive toddlers throw themselves around a pit of plastic balls and wished you could do the same? Well, now you can.

A brand new adult ball pit has opened in Croydon, inviting grown-ups to embrace their inner child and go balls out.

FunHouse offers two ball pits, a games room, a junk-food inspired menu, and all the balls-related innuendos you can think of.

The opening of the venue took place last Saturday and saw over 300 punters revel amongst 200,000 balls.

Joe McNamara, bar manager at FunHouse, said: “I was really excited about the idea for FunHouse. It’s about trying another concept to attract people. Locals walk in as complete strangers but once they’re in the ballpit everyone becomes friends.”

Though visitors have to book a slot to get balls-deep, the UV-themed bar is free entry all week. Punters are invited to take snaps in the free photobooth, don colourful fancy dress props, and sip on sugary-sweet cocktails from 4pm–2am seven days a week.

Owner of FunHouse, Louise Sainsbury, has opened the much-anticipated nightspot on the High Street across from her two existing bars, Memory Box and Club 88 Degrees.

 

Club Memory Box Pic: Memory Box

Despite recent closures of popular local watering holes such as Tiger Tiger, Yates, Black Sheep Bar, and SLVR, Sainsbury has kept business booming at both bars since opening the pair in 2016 and 2017.

“The key to our success is pretty simple: we charge reasonable prices, play good music, and make great cocktails,” she said.

Having worked in Croydon’s nightlife for over a decade, managing superclubs such as Tiger Tiger before buying her first bar, she’s well versed in what the locals want from a night on the town.

“We have tried to give something to everyone under the flyover. We have a commercial nightclub, a high-end cocktail bar, and now a chill-out indie and pop gaming bar. So now at this end we can cater to all people.”

Though many bar and club owners have struggled to contend with soaring business rates, residential development or licensing policy, Sainsbury says her biggest hurdle has been reckoning with Croydon’s reputation.

“People are scared to come to the area due to the crime rate, however we have no problems at our end of town  and we have enough security and good vibes to ensure everyone is safe and happy.”

Croydon’s reputation is still being rebuilt since the 2011 riots tore apart the area. As one of the boroughs that was affected the worst, the council was awarded £23 million to regenerate the town centre.

 

Club 88 Degrees Pic: Club 88 Degrees

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FunHouse Croydon view from street Pic: Funhouse Croydon
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Funhouse Croydon inside main room Pic: Funhouse Croydon
Funhouse Croydon 'Grab your balls' neon sign Pic: Funhouse Croydon
Funhouse Croydon view of the bar Pic: Funhouse Croydon

Last month, the government gave Croydon council the green light to invest more in the regeneration of the town centre during the next four years. The council will contribute a total of £309.9m to Growth Zone projects, funded by borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board and will be paid back by business rates. The project will carry out essential improvements to transport and public spaces for the benefits of residents, businesses and visitors to boost culture economy.

So far, the council has pedestrianised part of the High Street to allow for alfresco dining in the hopes to boost footfall. It has also been revealed that a brand new Westfield shopping centre will replace the Whitgift Centre, with work due to start in September 2019. A new report, entitled Delivering Westfield, estimates the new development will create over 7,000 jobs and will rebrand Croydon as “the premier destination in south London for shopping, business and cultural activities”. 

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