Billiards Bar, College Scene

Editorial Review

Kokopooli's is another example of the blue-collar joint that occasionally crops up in Adams-Morgan (see also: Madam's Organ, Dan's Cafe). This subterranean pool hall will never be as hip as Bedrock Billiards or attract the frat rats that frequent Angles.

Kokopooli's is a throwback to the '70s: The cement floor is decorated with huge colored billiard balls. The air is usually heavy with cigarette smoke, and the lights are quite dim. And the facilities aren't as impressive as the local competition: A dozen tables, three dart boards, an Indiana Jones pinball machine and the table-style Pac-Man game.

Couches are scattered throughout, and six TVs are usually tuned to a sporting event or HBO. The jukebox is strictly meat n' potatoes: Santana, the Eagles, Guns N' Roses. The Bee Gees and Nirvana are about as trendy as it gets. Happy hour brings discounted pitchers of Rolling Rock.

Why, then, is it absolutely necessary to call ahead if you want to get a table on a weekend night? (Call in advance and give your name and the time you plan to arrive. Your name goes on the list. First come, first served.) Maybe it's that tables are a flat $10 per hour, whether you've got two players or 10. Maybe it's that this feels like an "authentic" pool hall - closer to a dive - it's the kind of place where Shaft or Barney Miller would have gone for some 8 Ball or a beer. Whatever its lure, Kokopooli's isn't some sterile bar filled with khaki-wearing Minnesota Fats wannabes. They wouldn't dream of venturing down there. Oh well - their loss.

-- Fritz Hahn