Every Monday evening at Call the Office you can find a group of very dedicated people giving their all at the pinball league night.

This pastime is a big deal in London, ON… people love their pinball! As someone rather immersed in it, it’s surprising to me how many people have no idea this league of extraordinary gentle-people exists. But we’re going to change that.

Pinball at Strokers in London, ON
Julie Dorssers, pinball queen. Photo by Nicki Borland

The only thing better than the rush you feel when tossing in that loonie and starting to play, is the woman behind so much of pinball’s presence in this city, Julie Dorssers. Recently, at a Strokers Billiards Women’s Only Pinball Tournament, I had the supreme delight of catching up with Julie. We talked all things pinball, from its future in London to how we can get more ladies on the flippers!

So, let’s start with what your involvement is with the league, your position etc.? 

I’m currently the treasurer of the London Ontario Pinball League (LOPL). I have been for four years, I guess they trust me *intoxicating laugh*

And I also run a weekly tournament at Call the Office.

I feel like there’s a lot of people that don’t know much about the league. Can you tell us a bit more?

We actually have a rather large league in comparison to the London population. It all started about four years ago in Michael Todd’s basement (Speedy Mike). A whole bunch of us loved pinball, but there was nowhere to play in the city. I believe it was Cory Cook who said we could start a league. We started with 4 hosting locations and it has grown to 7!

The rules at Strokers in London, ON
It’s pure business at Strokers Billiards. Photo by Nicki Borland

The nights see lots of people coming out. Sometimes too many to fit into gentlemen’s basements *laughs* so we’ve had to split then into two nights. We’re up to 60 players so we’re pretty full! It’s the reason I started the Monday nights at Call the Office.

So, about this tournament specifically, what made you organize the Women’s Only Tournament in support of My Sisters Place

The International Flipper Pinball Association (which is the organization that gives us points for tournaments or league nights) created a separate women’s category this year.

Ladies playing pinball at Strokers Billiards in London, ON
The ladies! Photo by Nicki Borland

So, I figured I can run a women’s tournament! It then snowballed into helping out a great women’s cause, My Sister’s Place. Also, I figured this would be a great way to get more ladies out who might not be comfortable playing around the guys. Pinball’s really such a fun activity, I want more people to be able to enjoy it.

That leads well into my next question. Pinball tends to be very male-dominated. Why do you think that is and how are you looking to change it?

That’s a tough one. I think part of it is that [historically] pinball was always in bars and surrounded by dudes. But, whenever I go to tournaments, I’ve never been excluded. Men have never said “oh you’re a women, you can’t play.” They’re always genuinely happy to have me and are excited that there’s a woman there!

So I don’t know if it’s because women aren’t into gaming but I do think that’s changing. Women used to be the ones at home taking care of the children but you know, generations change, and the tides have turned!

You’re always very excited when there’s a female involved. 

VERY excited!

People who’ve never played are often quite anxious and retreat saying “oh no, I’m not good.” What advice would you give them?

It’s like with any other sport: IF YOU DON’T PLAY, YOU CAN’T GET BETTER. You need to practice. That’s what’s great about Thursday’s at Call the Office, you can pay $5 and play all you want but you’re not competing.

Pinball at Strokers in London, ON
Holding it down at the Womens Only Pinball Tournament. Photo by Nicki Borland

Also, there’s tons of online tutorials, especially those by Bowen Kerins (he’s a pinball god). You can study and really learn how to play the game.

Where else in London, ON can you get out and practice the game? 

Strokers, Call the Office, Speed City Records, I believe there’s one machine at the Richmond Tavern but I’m not sure how often that’s serviced. Make sure that where you are the machines are serviced often because when they’re not, it can be a big problem and you can’t play the game fully.

Oh! There’s also machines at the London Brewing Co-Op now!

And, is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Well, if you’re looking for something to do, come out on a Monday night to Call the Office or the machines are always at Strokers. Go out, take some friends and make a mini tournament on your own, you don’t have to have me to run it for you.

Well, we do love having that!  

*There’s that laugh* Well it’s always nice to have someone organizing but still, that’s my recommendation. After playing, if you’re really into it just email me! I’ll get you set up in our London Ontario Pinball League.

Oh great! And what’s your email? 

It’s jdorssers@sympatico.ca.

Isn’t she just a peach? She sure is. Check out League Night at Call the Office every Monday night at Call the Office starting at 8:30pm. Or get a feel for things on Thursdays, same place, for Free Ball… for just $5 you get all the pinball you want. Yes!

Feature photo by Nicki Borland

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