WALDWICK, N.J. — A man walks into the new Gagasphere at the Hamilton Square Shopping Center on Franklin Turnpike in Waldwick.
“What do you do here?” he asks Leslie Kossar Schraer of Glen Rock, one of the owners.
“We play gaga,” she replied.
“Like Lady Gaga?”
“No,” Schraer said, “it’s a ball game.”
Translated from Hebrew, “gaga” means “touch touch.”
Co-owner Pamela Diamond, also of Glen Rock, explains: the game is started by dropping the ball in the middle of an octagonal pit.
That’s two touches: ball in the hand, ball hitting the floor.
And off the game goes.
Players are only allowed to hit the soft foam ball with an open hand, Diamond explained. The object of the game is to hit other people in the pit with the ball, from the waist down.
Everybody needs to keep moving to avoid getting hit. If they are hit, they have to leave the pit.
“The last person left in the pit is the winner of that game,” said Diamond, explaining there are other variations, too, some using teams.
Average game time: five to seven minutes, she added. And that’s a relief for parents tired of long baseball games.
All sessions start the week of Oct. 11 at The Gagasphere, including Adult Gaga on Thursday nights as well as GagaStrong programs run by physical therapists and licensed physical education teachers for special needs children.
“We also like that it’s a game that’s accessible to everybody, that all the kids can play,” Kossar said.
Gaga originated in Israel and was brought to this country as an outdoor sport in the 1970s by Israeli summer camp counselors.
So kids know it, Diamond said. Adults don’t.
But the two moms – Schraer is a marketing pro, Diamond a pediatric physical therapist – are setting out to change that with The Gagasphere, which they say is the only indoor, year-round, gaga facility in Bergen County.
They know there aren’t any others because they searched for one after Diamond’s son requested a gaga birthday party last year. That’s what got the proverbial ball rolling for The Gagasphere.
Kids can play or have their birthday parties, camp reunions, or scouting gatherings at The Gagasphere. Parties are one of its specialties.