Black Cat nightclub debuts new pinball room

WASHINGTON — Go for the music, stay for the pinball.

One of D.C.’s most beloved venues is revamping its small eatery and replacing
dining booths with pinball machines.

The Black Cat nightclub debuted its new Lucky Cat room over the weekend. It is
packed with five machines, three video games, a claw machine and a shuffle

The club’s Food for Thought Cafe, next to the entrance, has been downsized
to just two dining tables. Stools at the counter and along the front window
will stay in place for people chowing down, but the real attraction will be the

“I’ve played pinball since I was quite young, and we have two or three more
people here that are more serious pinball junkies,” says Black Cat owner Dante
Ferrando. “It’s just a fun thing to do.”

The new machines include “Twilight Zone,” “Addams Family” and “The Wizard of
Oz.” They join the existing “Star Trek” and “Whodunnit” machines, which have
been moved from the Red Room bar.

Pinball is making a comeback of sorts, and has gained popularity in cities
around the
country such as Los Angeles, <a
href=””>New York and <a
href=””>Chicago. While D.C. has a relatively
small scene, Northern Virginia boats its own <a

As a lifelong pinhead, Ferrando sees the uptick in interest as part of a
natural pendulum swing. In the 1990s, for example, pinball and other games
were regularly incorporated into bars and venues, he says. That trend leveled
off in the early 2000s before enjoying the current resurgence.

“People are much more into games than they have been,” he says. “They have
games at home, on their phones. It’s more a part of the culture.”

But pinball, like pool, is a social game that can be enjoyed with friends.
Instead of burying your face into online poker or “Fruit Ninja,” you can get a
group together for beers, music and pinball, Ferrando says.


“It’s a fun group game,” he adds. “And there’s some real skill involved.”

In the 20 years Black Cat has offered pinball, the machines have changed
drastically, Ferrando says. Once wooden and relatively simple, today’s games
feature LED lighting, electronic displays and bright, vivid colors.

“Games are being made now are really well thought out,” he says. “I used to be pretty good, but now I’m going to have to practice.”

Are you a pinhead? Here some are other places in the area where you can find




  • Lyman’s Tavern — Northwest D.C.
  • Mighty Mike’s — Sterling, VirginiaFollow @WTOP and <a
    href=””>WTOP Entertainment on Twitter and <a
    href=””>WTOP on Facebook.


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