How Zanzabar Built Louisville's Pinball Scene

By HeyItsMeDusty

June 30, 2015

8 years ago

My pinball story begins at my favorite bar in the city, Zanzabar. I started going to Zanzabar for the awesome bands they book, but slowly got pulled into the pinball scene through other bar regulars. As a designer, I already loved the aesthetics of the art packages, but once I began to understand that pinball machines had individual goals and themes and narrative metaphors played out by the required shots, along with the realization that one could actually be GOOD at pinball by learning and practicing flipper techniques and "feeling" when and how to nudge the machine, I knew I had just tripped into a rabbit hole. This hobby would be something I'd carry with me for the rest of my life. 

The owners of Zanzabar, Antz Wettig and Jon Wettig, have created a haven for pinheads by maintaining an always tasteful selection of about 15 rotating pins which they keep in immaculate operating order at all times. By hosting the city's first pinball league, creating a welcoming atmosphere for beginners, and putting their passion for pinball on full display, they have brought the magic of pinball into so many people's lives, including mine.

Zanzabar has supported and grown such a strong base of pinball players that the trend has begun spreading to other bars, with at least seven different bars (as of this writing) with 5 or more pinball machines. For a city the size of Louisville, that's pretty damn good!

This story serves as a thank you to Zanzabar as my entryway to a world I knew nothing about just 3 years ago, but is now central to my identity as "a pinball guy." Also a huge thanks to everyone involved in the Louisville pinball scene for organizing tournaments, welcoming in new players, and keeping the scene vibrant and entertaining! 

Story photos

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