*Our tickets were gifted, however, all opinions are my own as usual
Waking up with no voice, rogue Coco Pops in my hair and an ache in my legs that feels like I’ve just spent three solid hours at the gym can only mean one thing – it’s the morning after a night at Bongo’s Bingo.
Last night, I attended the first of the 2019 Christmas special shows in Manchester and if you’ve already bought tickets (the shows are sold out), you’re in for a right treat.
Our night kicked off with some remixed Christmas songs – a donk version of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ is the tune I never knew I needed until now – as the stage was set, featuring an inflatable cow and beanstalk, naturally. It was certainly a novel way to get into the festive panto spirit and our host for the night, Rich, talked the Bongo’s virgins through how things work, rules of the game and such.
For the first game, it was eyes down to win a cardboard cutout of Micheal Buble, a Disney Princess doll set, and ultimately, a cash prize. There were false calls made which, if you’ve been to a show before, you’ll be familiar with the amount of group mocking that quickly follows; in last nights case, 950 people shouting ‘dickhead’ in unison, with the occasional chorus of ‘Why You Always Lyin’?’ for good measure.
There were some hardcore rave intervals in between games, with enough nineties and noughties classics to keep us on our toes, quite literally. I felt particularly proud of myself after reciting a word-perfect rendition of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song, followed by ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ so if you’re a fellow eighties baby, Bongo’s Bingo is the perfect place for you to truly shine.
After the third game of bingo finished, we were treated to a surprise, unadvertised set from a celebrity special guest who ramped up the nostalgia to a whole new level; it was only Dene Michael from Black Lace bringing those magical 80’s school disco melodies. We danced to ‘Agadoo’ ‘I Am The Music Man’ and ‘Superman’, did the ‘Hokey Cokey’, joined a conga line, and had a merry old time indeed.
The grand finale involved a dance-off for a notable £750 top prize after two people called with a full house at the same time. The lucky and deserving champion pulled some excellent moves and won not only the jackpot but the very vocal support of the crowd, leaving with a nice wedge of £50 notes to help out with the expense of Christmas.
Since its creation, Bongo’s Bingo shows have spawned plenty of amateur wannabes but in my experience, they don’t come anywhere close to the real deal. The shows – both standard and seasonal – notoriously sell out months in advance, with fans excitedly tagging their mates on Facebook and vowing to book their places within minutes of each new date being announced.
One particular date that I want to highlight, and for you to put in your diary, is 20 January 2020. Known as ‘Blue Monday’ thanks to statistically being the most miserable day of the year, Bongo’s Bingo has decided to host four special events held in Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, and London, aptly named B*ll*cks to Blue Monday.
The events are aiming to bring people together whilst raising money for the mental health and male suicide prevention charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). As someone who has seen how issues like these devastate lives, both for those suffering and for those left behind, it’s a great way to help open up conversations and blow the January cobwebs away.
Of course, mental health issues run deeper than just one single date and, with suicide being the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45, it’s important for us all to keep talking and be just a little bit kinder to one another. I might even see you there at the Manchester show, dancing on the bench next to me in solidarity for a great cause.
You can find out more about B*ll*cks to Blue Monday and other Bongo’s Bingo shows here.