Bongo’s Bingo is totally and utterly bonkers. At least that’s how I felt as I left the venue at 10:30 pm covered in wine and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
I first heard about Bingo’s Bingo from some Scouse friends who were raving about how much fun they had. It all started in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, where Jonny Bongo (real name Jonny Lacey) and Joshua Burke hosted their first night of alcohol-fuelled bingo.
While bingo is the central theme (with some great prizes on offer), it’s more of an entertainment show than anything else, with lots of dancing by the hosts and audience alike.
The event is so popular that it now tours the country – and even further afield – including residencies in Ibiza and Australia. As well as standard bingo nights, Bongo’s Bingo also hosts themed nights, and we decided to take part in their Halloween special in London.
The Halloween Special was hosted over two nights, and we attended on Friday 1st November at Steel Yard, a cavernous vaulted nightclub located underneath the railway arches of London’s Cannon Street.
The layout is fairly simple: rows of tables are laid out in front of a stage with a TV screen behind it. As you enter the venue you are presented with a bingo book and pen, and then you just plonk yourself down at any table, having purchased your beverages for the night. We opted for a bottle of wine, classily decanted into a plastic bottle with plastic cups. We’d learn why this was a good idea later on…
Lots of people had made the effort to dress up in full Halloween gear. Zombies, prisoners in orange jumpsuits, mad hatters and clowns were all crammed onto tables.
A nine-minute countdown started on the screen and “The Final Countdown” song blasted through the speakers. Everyone stood up on the benches and started dancing, and this to be the first of many table dances throughout the evening.
The legendary Bongo was absent from our event and instead, the night was hosted by Matty Powers, who stormed on to the stage dressed as Slimer from Ghostbusters, accompanied by his two beautiful assistants (aka bearded men in dresses): Eager Tina and Dirty Debbie.
The MC announced that it was “time to play for a cheeky line…a bingo line that is”, and proceeded to explain the rules. We were to play eight rounds of bingo, all following the same rules – something to do with completing a line, two lines or a full house. When you have crossed out all the appropriate numbers you shout “Bingo!”, and head to the stage to claim your prize.
Some of the more ridiculous prizes for the night included a life-size cardboard cut-out of Will Smith, a Chucky Doll and a Henry Hoover in spooky Halloween green. If you completed a ”full house” there were some pretty good cash prizes on offer as well.
Every time someone shouted out “Bingo!” music would play and we’d all be on our feet dancing on the benches (and later tables). If two individuals shout “Bingo!” at the same time they were invited to the stage for the ultimate dance-off.
The accompanying songs were mostly nineties and noughties classics, complete with the appropriate music video playing in the background. Eager Tina and Dirty Debbie performed some impressive dance moves and were full of beans throughout the night.
At one stage, a bingo winner was presented with several boxes of coco pops, which she preceded to shower onto the audience like sticky, chocolate rain. By this time our table was swimming in both coco pops and wine (a result of plastic cups falling over as the tables vibrated from all the dancing). Our bingo booklets were also looking rather worse for wear.
At no point did the evening lull. The energy and enthusiasm in the room were fabulous, and we were sad when the final bingo round came to an end. Admittedly, it’s probably not the ideal sober event, and there is plenty of swearing and a striptease or two. So if that’s not your thing, probably best to avoid.
I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun group activity. It was all very silly, but incredibly fun.
I want to book tickets for the London show. When is the next one?
Bongo’s Bingo will be hosting their Christmas special at The Grand in London Clapham on three consecutive Fridays starting on 6th December.
At the same venue, they are also hosting a festive special, Bongo and & The Beast, from 28th to 30th December.