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The social art of darts

With the advent of electronic scoring boards, the game is gaining popularity in local bars.

December 10, 2010|By Liana Aghajanian
  • Dart League player, Joey Limon, plays a dart game at Where Else Inc. in Sunland.
Dart League player, Joey Limon, plays a dart game at Where… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

The dimly lit Big Fish Bar & Grill is brewing with excitement on a Wednesday night. A full parking lot and a jukebox blaring Pink Floyd can only mean one thing — members of the Reunion, a local dart league, are perfecting their throws in a game steeped in English tradition.

After a five-year decline attributed to the economy and fluctuating lives, darts are steadily making a comeback in Burbank, La Crescenta and Glendale, played at establishments such as Gilligan's Irish Pub, the Corner Bar and the Capri Lounge, among others.

Dale Reynolds, who runs the dart leagues in the San Fernando Valley, has seen an increase in the number of leagues over last year in the East Valley. His company, Unique Vending by Dale, supplies new electronic dart boards that automatically calculate scores. There were eight leagues last season, and there are 10 leagues this season, he said.

"Last season we were down two teams, but I kind of foresee that it's going to go back up this coming year," Reynolds said. "Players have shown interest and brought in new players to keep it going."


In fact, the game is more in demand these days than other bar games, said Steve Kwan, owner of Gilligan's Irish Pub in La Crescenta.

"Darts have become more popular than pool because of the simple fact that more people can participate, and you can fit more dart boards in a bar than pool tables," he said.

Kwan, who also operates the Corner Bar in Burbank, said patrons come in there just to play darts and stay for hours.

The competitive nature of the game — peppered with colorful lingo and the allure of international tournaments that yield money — keeps people coming back, area players said.

Just ask Doug Davis, a Burbank chiropractor who has been playing darts for 12 years. As a member of the Reunion, made up of veteran dart players who participated in leagues before the dip, Davis is hoping to rack up games in order to qualify for the National Dart Assn.'s 2011 International Dart Tournament in Las Vegas.

"I like the competition," he said. "I don't like to lose."

Friends for more than a decade, Jerry Redman of Burbank and Alan Greenberry of Glendale are prime examples of the relationships that can develop from the game.

Redman, who helps manage Pecos Bill's Bar-B-Q in Glendale, calls Greenberry his "brother from another mother," and says a troubling incident he witnessed while they were in Las Vegas for a dart tournament brought them closer together.

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