What exactly is Bongo’s Bingo?
That’s the question we’ve been asking ever since we saw it for ourselves! Bongo’s Bingo is what it would look like if regular bingo had three tequila shots and rode off into the sunset on a unicorn covered in glitter and neon paint.
Is there actual bingo involved? Well, yes. But that’s not all you’ll get for your money with this madcap night.
Originally born in Liverpool, Bongo’s Bingo is the brainchild of Jonny Lacey and Joshua Burke, who put their heads together and developed the original concept in an empty warehouse. It caught on like wildfire, and now Bongo’s Bingo plays to thousands in shows all over the UK on a regular basis. Its production and special effects rival concerts, its energy matches that of a rave, and it’s fair to say that bingo has never been quite the same since.
The nation has taken Bongo’s Bingo to heart, and unsurprisingly, they sell out almost every event. It’s popular with students, hen parties, men and women, and has played host to three generations of the same family all at once on more than one occasion. As long as you love a party, a bit of bingo, and a great night out, you’ll fit right in.
So how do you get involved? Bongo’s Bingo lists more than 50 locations across the UK and worldwide, so take a look at their website to see what’s happening near you. They’ve partied in Dubai and have a residency at a hotel in Ibiza for summer 2019, so keep your eyes open for when they’re coming your way!
Here’s what happened when we arrived…
That’s right, OhMyBingo took on Bongo’s Bingo! Although they don’t do bingo online, they’re such a huge part of the UK bingo scene we felt we had to go and give them a go! Read on for a good laugh at our experience…
When we arrived, we were surprised that there were still plenty of seats half an hour before the official start time. After all, this was a sell-out night… but it quickly filled up. If you’re desperate to be sat at the front, getting there early will probably help, but other than that, there wasn’t a mad rush for seats as soon as the doors opened. Once you’re in, you’ll get a booklet with your bingo cards printed in it, and a felt pen to mark them. You might also get a ticket with a number on it for a prize draw, and if you do, hang onto it!
The seats are long benches and trestle tables running the length of the room, so you won’t get one to yourself! Pick a spot anywhere there’s space, and you’ll probably end up chatting to your bench-mates before long! It was great to see so many different groups of people all getting along and bonding over a bit of bingo. Just make sure to note where you’re sitting if you get up for the bar or the loo- those rows all start to look the same when you’re on your way back!
The venue we went to had a food tent which was very popular! They served mostly pizzas and hot dogs, including vegetarian options, and although we didn’t try them, they looked pretty mouth-watering! One thing we would say is that you’ll definitely struggle to eat once the bingo starts- those numbers come at you wicked fast! If you’re hankering for a snack while you’re there, you’re better off getting it before the party starts properly. No one wants to choose between eating pizza and playing bingo!
And so the party begins
One minute we were chatting away, the next second, the lights go out and a countdown begins. This is it! The excitement in the room was buzzing, and when our host took to the stage, the noise was deafening! Loud music, strobe lights, confetti cannons… we could see a few people wondering what they’d signed up for!
The music throughout the whole night was brilliant, and we boogied down to everything from the Spice Girls to Disney, Come on Eileen, and Sweeeeet Car-o-line (do-do-do). People were dancing on the benches before the bingo even started, and we knew we were in for a great night! When certain numbers are called, this triggers a dance party, and it’s pens down and hands up as everyone leaps out of their seats for a quick rave before the numbers start again.
In amongst the sheer madness of the party, it’s easy to forget that you’re there for bingo, and when the game began, we saw more than a few people scrambling for their books and pens! Bongo’s Bingo plays 90-ball bingo, so you get all the wacky bingo calls we love so much. (If you’re not sure how 90-ball bingo works, check out our handy guide!)
At Bongo’s, you get the usual six tickets on each page of your booklet, and there are three games throughout the night, so plenty of chances to win. Because it’s 90-ball bingo and you’re playing with six tickets, you’re guaranteed to have every number that they call somewhere on your page, so make sure you keep up! If you’re lucky enough to get a line, two lines, or even the house, make some noise! Stand up, shout, jump, wave- you’ve got to get their attention quickly, and it’s a bit of a zoo in there!
There are some- ahem- interesting prizes up for grabs, and we wanted every single one of them. The big scoops on our night were a hot tub (yes, really), a glamorous Henry Hoover, and a wacky inflatable arm waving tube man. If you’ve never seen one of those, this is what they look like. Imagine winning one at bingo…
Someone also won a year’s supply of Coco Pops, and in true Bongo’s Bingo tradition, they got the choice to take their prize and sit down, or to open a box and shower the crowd with crispy chocolatey goodness. No prizes for guessing which they did. As a side note, have you ever tried getting Coco Pops out of your hair? We have.
Thinking of going? Here’s our advice
We’re Bongo’s Bingo’s veterans now, and we’ve got some wisdom to share. If you want the very best out of your Bongo’s night, let us give you a few tips…
1 — If you’re feeling fancy, dress for a party.
People came in jeans and boots, dresses and heels, cardigans, wedding veils, neon, glitter, and fancy dress. Whatever you’re thinking of wearing, you’ll be absolutely fine, and there’s nothing too over the top. Note to take away- neon looks incredible under those lights.
2 — Wear flat shoes.
Okay, this one’s more of a prayer for your ankles. Most of the ladies we saw were in heels and they looked fabulous, but trust us, flats will make dancing on those benches So. Much. Easier. No one wants to end their night early because they fell off a bench throwing some shapes to Don’t Stop Me Now.
3 — Don’t stand on the tables.
Let us clarify- standing on the benches is fine, and even encouraged, but we were warned early on that those tables just aren’t built for it. They might break, and if you try standing on them, security will ask you to get down pretty sharpish. Save everyone the heart-attack and stick to the benches.
4 — Be aware of the drinks prices.
Are you getting a great night for your money with Bongo’s Bingo? Absolutely. But fair warning- the drinks aren’t cheap. Bear this in mind if you’re bringing cash or want to budget your night.
5 — Don’t false call.
By God, false call at your own risk. If you shout “Bingo” when you don’t have it, prepare to be publicly booed by a thousand people. It’s all in good fun of course, but yikes, that’s something we’d rather avoid!
6 — Have an amazing time!
The second you get through the door, you’ll be swept up in the excitement and atmosphere, so make the most of it! Gamble and drink responsibly, have a laugh with your mates, and maybe win a prize- we had an incredible time!
Would we go back to Bongo’s Bingo?
Absolutely! Bongo’s Bingo is loud, crazy, and absolutely brilliant. Although our hearts will always belong to online bingo, it was great to go and do something a little bit different and see another side of bingo. If Bongo’s Bingo sounds like your kind of party, we’d encourage you to check it out- maybe get some of your online bingo mates together for a real-life bingo night!
Bongo’s Bingo isn’t the only name shaking up the bingo world. Explore OhMyBingo’s take on the future of bingo, and see some of the crazy directions we think this brilliant game is going in over the next few years…
In the meantime, you can be sure OhMyBingo will keep your bingo motor running with more fabulous sites and offers than you can handle. You don’t even have to leave the house! Check out our best online bingo offers here.