*Our tickets were provided FOC, however, all opinions are my own as always
Before last weekend, my only prior experience of bingo took place in Ibiza about five years ago when my friends and I decided to join in with the hotel entertainment after too much day drinking; it was a serious, rather dull affair with no room for rowdy behaviour and not really something I ever yearned to repeat.
Last month, an invite from the beautiful people over at Bongo’s Bingo landed in my inbox to see if I’d like to review their Oktoberfest Sunday special show in Manchester and, given that I’d already heard some weird and wonderful things about Bongo’s Bingo, I decided that it was finally time to check it out first-hand and see if it lived up to the hype.
Let’s be clear – Bongo’s Bingo is not your usual game and I’d thoroughly recommend leaving your inhibitions at the door for this one. Born in Liverpool circa 2015 – the brainchild of ‘Jonny Bongo’ – Bongo’s Bingo has since gone international. From Blackpool and Glasgow to Dubai and Ibiza, tickets generally sell out months in advance.
On Sunday, Megan and I headed to Albert Hall, Manchester, for the daytime Oktoberfest special. The bingo started at 2pm but I had been advised to get there at least an hour early. We were given a wristband, markers and book of tickets at the door. We’d arrived at 12.30pm and it was already almost full so we grabbed a drink and took our seats.
I was initially apprehensive about potentially being the only thirtysomething in a room full of teenagers but that was thankfully not the case as there was a mix of age groups in attendance all ready to play. Right on cue, our host took to the stage with his lovely dancers, Randy Mandy and Horny Heidi (aka two blokes in fancy dress get up).
I’m not going to give you a full run-through as I don’t want to spoil it for any Bongo’s Bingo virgins but imagine that a game of traditional bingo got drunk, had a one night stand with your wildest student night out and made a baby and you’re almost there.
For the next four hours, we danced on benches, cheered as our host ‘put a donk on it’, sang hymns (it was Sunday after all), enjoyed a full-on sweaty rave for twelve minutes during the break, clapped as a guest got ‘knighted’ on stage with a
double-ended dildo phallic object, sang communal karaoke to Oasis songs, saw various winners claim their prizes – ranging from a Henry Hoover, bottles of booze and the elusive giant unicorn to a life-sized cut out of Peter Andre and big cash payouts- and publicly ridiculed those who made false calls.
At one point, I looked up at the balcony and saw a shower of Coco Pops heading our way, making a novel garnish for my pint of cider. We may have left empty-handed (bar the Coco Pops in my trainers), however, Megan and I are both fully converted. Granted, Bongo’s Bingo isn’t an event for the faint-hearted but I can promise that it will certainly be an experience you’ll never forget.