Indoor beach has warm sand and cold drinks
By Chandler Walter, Assistant Editor
There is an island that lies between Vancouver and Richmond.
If you go there by bus, it is then a 10-minute walk from Marine Drive, halfway across the Knight Street Bridge, down and around the exit ramp to an area filled with huge, industrial buildings.
If it’s dark, the underside of the bridge is pitch black. If it’s raining, the puddles pool in the giant parking lots beside the empty semi-trucks.
To the right of the bridge, there is a metal sign that reads “BEACH,” but Mitchell Island’s shores do not have anywhere ideal to lounge.
The bent metal sign points to the far end of the warehouse furthest back. The sound of cars flying by on the Knight Street Bridge nearly drown out the bustle and shouts from inside the building that houses an indoor beach.
Cars fill the lot, and beyond the two glass doors crowned with a sign reading 6pack Indoor Beach is light and noise and sand.
“It was my Disneyland,” said 6pack Indoor Beach Operations Coordinator Kyle Pressacco. He runs the facilities at the warehouse on Mitchell island, which has been transformed into a warm, sandy beach every day of the year.
Pressacco got his start at the indoor beach after he was the first person to “Like” the first Facebook post put out by 6pack Indoor Beach. He was then invited to a soft opening, and has been a fixture in the building ever since.
“I love beach volleyball, and I love this facility, so it just kind of made sense,” Pressacco said.
As he talked, he picked up a handful of sand and showed how easily it ran through his finger.
“The beauty of this sand is there’s no rocks, shells, they brought all this sand in, so you’re never going to have to worry about that.”
The facility was opened in 2011 by two childhood friends who wanted to continue playing beach volleyball all year round.
“They really loved beach volleyball,” Pressacco said, “and they wanted to open a place basically where we could go play beach volleyball in the winter.”
They trucked 700 metric tons of sand into a warehouse, set up five beach volleyball nets, and the rest fell into place.
Pressacco found the indoor beach to be a haven for him and others who were braving the cold on Kits Beach just to get a few games in during the rainy seasons.
“I used to even wear sand socks and long johns, and I was on the beach in November, one time when it was even slightly snowing, and we were playing outside,” he said, and he was not alone.
6pack hosts many different leagues of beach volleyball to accommodate Vancouver’s eager volleyball community. The facility offers sixes, fours, and twos leagues, with each league having its own designated days each week.
However, league play isn’t the only way of playing beach volleyball that 6pack indoor beach has to offer.
“We have professional coaches that come in with athletes that are amateurs that want to get better and play in tournaments, so that’s another great aspect,” Pressacco explained.
During the interview, the Monday coaching clinic players were just leaving and the fours league was warming up. Jennifer Scott was one of the players hanging out on the sidelines, having been on the beach for a few hours already.
She started out playing in the fours league at 6pack, but as she has continued playing she moved over to twos.
“I sub[stitute] sometimes but I don’t play very much of fours anymore,” she said. Scott also takes advantage of 6pack’s coaching opportunities, and she spends her Monday evenings being coached on how to improve her game.
“I started in the fours league, and then I found out you could get coaching, and so now we get coached every Monday and I think there’s 8 of us in the group.”
Scott said that some of her friends were amazed when they learned that she was playing beach volleyball well into the winter months.
“[People] go: ‘What do you play in the winter?’ and I say ‘Oh, I still play beach volleyball,’ and they get that weird look and they’re like ‘Where, outside?’ and I say ‘Oh no, there’s a warehouse full of sand at 6pack.’ I love it.”
Pressacco noted that while many of the players that come to 6pack are familiar faces, not a lot of Vancouver seems to be aware of the tropical gem hiding on the Fraser River.
“Honestly I don’t think all of Vancouver even knows about 6pack Indoor Beach, and as we continue, there’s just so many different things that you can do here,” he said.
The facility has brought in some additional activities to draw in another type of crowd; one that enjoys dodgeball, paintball, and—wait for it—archery.
On certain days the volleyball courts are lowered, the protective masks go on, and those who sign up are free to shoot cushion tipped arrows at each other across the sandy courts.
6pack Indoor Beach was the first to have archery tag in a facility, and Pressacco said that it has been quite the success.
“Archery tag has been a huge hit; it has really taken over. It’s basically if you imagine a Hunger Games version of dodgeball, so no one actually dies, but they have a lot of fun.”
With a new sport comes new staff, in the form of Archery Tag Referee Connolly Twaites. He runs the archery tag games and works the front desk at 6pack, and said that the job has been great for him.
“So far it’s been a lot of fun. I primarily deal with archery tag and the front desk here. Archery tag is so much fun, and working the front desk is great because I like interacting with people as well.”
Archery tag runs its most competitive games on Sundays, in which a team can only win by eliminating every player of the opposition. Other versions of the game are similar to the different versions of dodgeball, and Twaites said that they have even started getting archery tag regulars along with the usual beach volleyball regulars he sees on a weekly basis.
“A couple of the volleyball players we have here tonight I know on a first name basis; I see them every Monday night, every week,” he said. “We also have regulars in all the other sessions as well who I’m on a first name basis with.”
With 6pack still being relatively young, it remains an undiscovered treasure by many in Vancouver. Pressacco is hoping that will be a thing of the past, and is excited about where the facility is heading.
After walking out of the warehouse, the air felt colder and the ground harder, though inside the sounds of shouts, bumps, and spikes could still be heard above the noise of the cars driving over the Fraser River.
Sometimes they played beach volleyball until one in the morning, Prossacco had said, as no one keeps much track of time in a place where it is always a sunny and dry summer day.