New York City’s latest experiential night out brings mini golf to the next level.
Swingers was created by friends and business partners Matt Grech-Smith and Jeremy Simmonds, who previously ran an events business in the United Kingdom. After that business was picked up by a different agency, Grech-Smith and Simmonds went off on their own to create a new venture.
“When we left, we were in this sort of cool position where we knew nightlife, we knew all about events, and we noticed at the time that people were starting to want experiences much more. People wanted to go out and do stuff, not just sit and drink,” said Grech-Smith. “At the time in London, you could go and play ping pong or do some kind of upscale bowling, but there wasn’t much else. We said, what about if you took the game of mini golf and built it into a really cool environment, threw in a bit of alcohol with it and gave it great food as well?”
With that, the first iteration of Swingers was born. In 2014, the duo set up a Swingers pop-up in East London, complete with cocktails and street food for purchase. News of the pop-up went viral and tickets sold out immediately — Grech-Smith said that the website to buy tickets also crashed as a result.
“There’s a website called The Nudge in the UK, and they said, ‘Do you have good service, because I think this is going to be popular.’ We said yeah, don’t worry about it, we’ll be fine. They sent the email out to around 14,000 people, then that email got forwarded 140,000 times,” said Grech-Smith.
With the knowledge that they had a great idea on their hands, Grech-Smith and Simmonds got to work to create a permanent home for Swingers. They opened the first Swingers location in 2016 in the City of London and later opened another location in the West End in 2018. Due to the success across the pond, Swingers was brought to the United States with a location in Washington, D.C. opened in 2021 and a New York City location opened in 2022.
“There’s something about mini golf in a warehouse where they bring cocktails on the course and you can enjoy a burger from a London brand, everyone was like ‘Yes! That’s what I want to do, that sounds like a fun night out,'” said Grech-Smith.
In creating each Swingers location, Grech-Smith says that they drew from the heritage of the golf world to create the space. Each space is inspired by an English country golf club, often including a clubhouse and a lot of greenery to really make the experience immersive. The team at Swingers is also conscious of making sure that they can accommodate groups of all sizes.
“We also look for interesting spaces. For New York, we found this basement beneath the Virgin Hotel, which incredibly has 3,000 square feet. So the venue gets designed around that,” said Grech-Smith. “In DC, we’ve got this venue that used to be called Buffalo Billiards, it was pretty well known in DC, but the footprint that it gives us, we always design specifically for it.”
The food and drinks available are often pulled from popular local brands in the area. For example, in the New York City location, guests can enjoy food from Sauce Pizzeria, Miznon, Fonda, and Mah Ze Dahr Bakery. The bar, while stocked with what you would expect from a traditional bar, also features local brews to really give you a local experience.
Since the opening of the New York City location, Grech-Smith says that the response has been incredibly positive, with that location being consistently sold out since it first opened.
“I think with the opening, by coincidence, people spent a lot of time locked down and not having social experiences, people were reminded of the value of those social experiences and reminded of what it means to them,” said Grech-Smith. “Something like this coming along offers a whole day or evening out, in terms of you have different areas for food, drink, and the activity all under one roof. It’s incredibly photogenic, it looks good on your social media, and it’s really resonating with people. We’ve been pretty much sold out since we’ve opened. The demand shows no sign of abating, so there’s a demand for this.”
As for the future of Swingers, Grech-Smith would love to open some more locations in what he says are “Swingers cities,” which have big populations, a street food scene, a dating scene, and are places where people can go to drinks after work and not have to drive home. However, first and foremost Swingers is dedicated to creating a space where people can have a good time.
“We know that the experience is at the core of what we do, people have to come in and have a good time,” said Grech-Smith. “We’re not going absolutely nuts in opening one a year or something, but it’s about finding really great beautiful locations and making sure that people still have a really good time.”
The NYC Swingers location (35 West 29th Street in NoMad) is open on Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays from 12 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets are available online starting at $22, no ticket is required to enjoy the Swingers bar and food. Walk-in tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information about Swingers, visit swingers.club.