The Manhattan Beach Badminton Club – yes, they have one – dates to 1936 – Daily Breeze

The first meeting of the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club was held on September 2, 1936 at the home of Doug Todd.

By this time the assembled group had already started looking for a place to play. They settled on the second floor of the Marine Avenue Pavilion, a wood-frame beachfront bathhouse that opened in 1922.

Once a social gathering place, the two-story building had become somewhat dilapidated by the time. The enthusiastic players agreed to use the top floor of the bathhouse, which was used as a dance hall, for badminton games.

But the 15-foot ceiling wasn’t nearly high enough to accommodate the game. Rules had to be put in place to allow for shuttlecocks hitting the ceiling during play, which is a common occurrence.

The members of the new club met regularly – and finally decided to collect money to build their own badminton court. As they looked for ways to do this, an idea came to them, possibly while watching the Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland musicals of the day: put on a show!

They directed a musical comedy, April Follies, at Pier Avenue School in Hermosa Beach over several weekends. The club members took care of all the details of the production, from costumes to publicity to ticket sales.

The club raised enough money from the production — about $2,000 — to purchase seven interconnected lots in what was then known as “the Upstate” in the then-dreary Manhattan Beach upstate. The lots sold for $200 each at the time. (Lots on a skein cost $1,200.)

By 1940, construction on the new clubhouse at 18th Street near Ardmore Avenue had begun, and its courts opened for play in 1941. (Coincidentally, the Marine Avenue bathhouse burned down that year and had to be demolished.)

In addition to building the club, the members also paid for the construction of part of 18th Street from Ardmore to the club. The roadway did not exist before the club was built.

This surge in interest in badminton was not just a local phenomenon.

The sport’s first club was founded in 1878 in New York City. The sport first became popular among British officers who had served in India in the 19th century. Its name comes from a British estate, the Duke of Beaufort’s Badminton House in Gloucestershire.

Badminton became popular among the Hollywood elite in the 1930’s and counted among its players such luminaries as James Cagney, Bette Davis, Boris Karloff, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks.

After the US entered World War II in 1941, the US Army took over the Manhattan Beach Club. It was used as officers’ quarters and an entertainment center for the troops stationed nearby at Live Oak Park and the artillery battery that was installed at 19th Street to protect the coast from invaders.

In November 1943, as the threat of invasion subsided, the Army returned the facility to club members.

Though often mistaken for being as easy as its racquets and birdies by those who have only dabbled in the game in their backyards, competitive badminton requires both remarkable hand-to-eye coordination and excellent physical condition.

The sport enjoys great popularity in Asia and Europe and became an official part of the Summer Olympics during the 1992 Games in Barcelona, ​​Spain. To date, no American has won a medal in badminton at the Olympics.

But its American followers remain addicted to the game.

As players grew in strength and skill, the once-lush 30-foot ceilings at the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club were judged by some to be too low for the venue to host high-profile international competitions.

That didn’t stop the club from hosting the last Olympic badminton qualifying tournament in the United States before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the world’s top 65 players from 21 countries competed to take part.

The building has been modernized and remodeled over the years. In 1951 the popular swimming pool was added. In the 1960s, a lounge and an outdoor kitchen were built and a special wooden floor was laid, which is easy on the players’ legs. Its exterior has been updated and accessibility ramps have been installed.

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