Hacky Sack at Lake Merritt Station

Riders Matt and Dawn told me that they have separately both seen a group of Chinese people playing Hacky Sack inside the Lake Merritt BART station. Hacky Sack? Inside the station?

A little sleuthing unearthed this video:

The poster on YouTube reports that this was actually a Chinese game called jianzi, what some would say is the “original hacky sack.” But unlike hacky sack, jianzi is played with a shuttlecock (yeah, I had to look up that one too). I actually saw this game played when I was a kid. But why inside the BART station? I wonder if it’s some kind of a pick-up game.

Anybody got more information on this bit of morning fun at the Lake Merritt station?

p.s. This is not to be confused with the footbag practice held by the Chaos Footbag Club at Lake Merritt – the lake, not the BART station, according to Jack H. at Chaos. Jack asserts that his sport (like “volleyball with your feet”) is also way cool.


  • Basel

    The local Chinese community prior to the demolition of the Lake Merritt office building extensively used the plaza for morning tai chi exercises. There were as many as 150 participants ranging from senior citizens, RN’s coming off the night shift, and professionals joining in the free program. Over the years there were splinter groups due to differing approaches, alliances and personalities. Classical fan dancing/martial arts, sword (metal but not sharp) dances, ball room dancing and hacky sack started to appear about 15 years ago. The martial arts using the fan was most impressive – listening to 20 fans opening all at once with a loud “whoosh” was a morning eye-opener as well as observing how a fan could be used as an offensive/defensive weapon. Much of the activity now has moved across the street to the Madison Square park with activity starting as early as 6:30AM. The hacky sack players in the You Tube use a quiet space on the concourse that’s actually a stairwell. I’ve seen Laney College students join in enroute to classes. In the afternoon, you might see one or two couples using the smooth and clean terrazo floor for ball room dancing practice. This is an example of quiet, unobstrusive use of public space.

    Daily commuter

  • Basel, wow, thank you so much. I am really excited to learn about how people are using public space in great ways like this. And I’m pretty charmed by the fact that some Laney College students join in on the fun. Thanks again for the comment – this makes running the site all the more fun!

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