An evening at The Cue Ball
Standing just around the corner from campus, The Cue Ball has likely caught the eye of many Willamette students who have yet to step foot inside. Before attending Willamette, I had never played pool, but soon learned to play on the table in Montag. With many of the dorm buildings having a pool table, is going down the road to a pool hall worth the journey? Join me through my evening at The Cue Ball.
It was 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night. I entered a large hall filled with pool tables, the sounds of clinking pool balls, and a hearty laugh from one of the men playing. The building is more expansive than it appears; each room stretches far back, giving plenty of space to spread out.
The Cue Ball is comprised of three rooms. The first room contains the main counter and appears to be where the older crowd spend their evenings. A small arcade rests in the back. The middle room serves as a storage space, housing unused pool tables stacked atop one another, poker tables and mannequins that my friends and I repeatedly mistook for real people. A stuffed white tiger keeps watch from the corner. The furthest room contains a younger crowd, predominantly composed of male teenagers. On the wall, a jukebox and a power strip are available for phone charging.
An employee informed me that not many Willamette students frequent The Cue Ball. However, when I arrived a group of Bearcats were deep into a lively game of 8-ball. Throughout the night a steady stream of people came and went out of the building. Despite this, no group had to wait for a table.
Talking to the crowd, many of the locals said they attend once every week or two. Many of the attendees seemed to enjoy the sense of community and “chill” atmosphere that comes with playing some pool with your friends or partner. “I just like the time with the homies,” said one teenager. He continued to explain the large crowds in attendance on Fridays and Saturdays, mostly consisting of high schoolers. “Everybody I know comes here,” one of his friends added. Marni Aosved (‘24), who was already mid-game when I arrived, described The Cue Ball as “full of high schoolers but in a fun way.” A group of older men reminisced on their years spent playing at The Cue Ball. “We’ve made some of our best memories here,” one said.
The pool amenities themselves were all of high quality. The tables were pristine and there were many free cues you could use if you didn’t have your own. The far room boasted an impressive sound system, playing loud and clear music, yet maintaining an appropriate volume that didn't hinder conversing with the people nearby. When the jukebox queue finished, however, the music switched to a quieter, less crisp radio station. Many seemed to enjoy the music, but others thought you should not have to pay. With most of the songs being $1 each, it is understandable that some college students are hesitant to pay for the jukebox.
Some of the attendees expressed disliking the bathrooms. Upon my own investigation, I found the bathroom was rather dirty with a strange odor and no mirror. Paint covered most but not all of the graffiti.
Forrest Davis (‘25) put it best when they described The Cue Ball as “an underrated place to have a good time.” “It’s not as intimidating as it looks,” added Aosved (‘24). However, it is a unique experience for some students. “We don’t have anything like this in Japan,” said Kota Okawara (TIUA), who won each game we played that night.
When asked what he wanted to say to Willamette students, the employee at the counter said, “You should come over sometime.” The Cue Ball is open 9 to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to midnight Sundays, but often stays open past close on busy nights. Each table costs $12 per hour.