The cavernous club was filled with hundreds of fierce competitors. Striped-shirted referees kept order during the grueling hand-to-hand combat. In the end, it came down to two men and three "weapons" - rock, paper and scissors.
Rob Krueger, 31, of Toronto, was the winner - hands down - of the second International World Rock Paper Scissors Championship on Saturday night, taking home the $3,750 first prize.
Krueger, sporting a wild wig and wraparound shades, triumphed by throwing "paper" to finalist Marc Rigaux's "rock."
The timeless method, which is used to solve everyday disputes, involves two players making one of three possible simultaneous hand gestures, called "throws." They are "rock" (closed fist); "paper" (hand flat); and "scissors" (index and middle fingers extended. Rock defeats scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper wins over rock.
Many of the competitors were dressed in wild costumes, such as Peter Watson's billowing suit cut from Britain's Union Jack flag, with beer the obvious beverage of choice.
"Let the opponent make mistakes," stressed Benjamin Stein, 25, of New York, wearing a Stars and Stripes bandanna. When he eventually fell, he blamed a failure to follow his own advice.
"I tried hot-dogging it to get the crowd behind me. I lost to a chump," Stein said, using the culture's lingo for a slow thrower.
Other terms include "cloaking," the trick of holding back a throw until the last possible moment, and "paper clipping," a similar attempt to dupe an opponent into a false move.
"It's a big joke for 364 days of the year," said Rigaux, a 26-year-old software salesman in Toronto, where the World Rock Paper Scissors Society is based. "When you get here, it's totally serious."
Competitions also take place in Sonoma, Calif., and at the Burning Man cultural event in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, he said.
The society claims RPS is known as Jenken or Jen Ken Pon in Japan, Shnik Shnak Shnuk in Germany, Ching Chong Chow in South Africa and Farggling or Roshambo in different parts of the United States.
All i can think of now is Gary Larson and "before paper and scissors were invented". Heh, i'm supposed to get the collection next week.