Dance-offs, false calls and glowsticks at Bongo’s Bingo

New club night-cum-bingo game Bongos Bingo has been taking the UK by storm in recent months. Jessica Murray headed to Canal Mills to try her hand at winning the coveted pink unicorn…

If I could give you one word of advice for a night at Bongos Bingo – don’t make a false call. You may be two bottles of wine down, the numbers on the book in front of you may be swimming on the page, and you may be fixated on winning that pink fluffy unicorn… But if you shout bingo too soon the entire room will shout ‘dickhead’ at you. Take it from someone who learnt the hard way.

In normal circumstances, having over 200 people calling you a dickhead simultaneously might be classed as quite a traumatising incident, but in the raucous atmosphere of the bingo hall it’s all part of the experience.

The venue was packed to the brim with bingo-goers eager to get their hands on the coveted pink unicorn or 23-inch dildo. Arrive early to make sure to grab a table – last entry is at 7.30pm so prepare for an early dinner and an even earlier pre-drinks (Canal Mills is pretty pricey), and try to get as near to the front as possible. From our table near the back we could barely hear Jonny Bongo, resident DJ and bingo caller, explaining the rules and were about five games down before we realised the numbers in our books were actually positioned in numerical order from left to right – very helpful.

Resident DJ and bingo caller, Jonny Bongo
Resident DJ and bingo caller, Jonny Bongo

As Mr Bongo himself said in our recent interview with him, the atmosphere is almost impossible to describe. One minute you’ll be up on the benches dancing to the Vengaboys or Year 3000, the next minute you’ll be furiously trying to concentrate on the numbers being called.

Although there a fair few opportunities to bag prizes, there’s also a pretty high chance you’ll leave the night with nothing, but you’ll have so much fun in the process you won’t care. Unless of course, you lose in an on stage dance off to win £500 (the preferred method to decide who takes home the cash when there are two callers). You can do the worm, you can do a slut drop, you can even whip your shirt off and swing it in the air, but if the cheers aren’t loud enough you’ll walk away with nothing.

Bongos Bingo is a fantastic and unique night. There is really nothing quite like dancing with glow sticks on benches to some 90s rave music before cracking on with some good old fashioned bingo. But it is undoubtedly an event catered towards large groups and large characters. I for one could not have been tempted in to a on stage dance off no matter how drunk I was.  Leave your inhibitions (and your dignity) behind, and Bongos Bingo will be a night you’re unlikely to forget.

Bongo’s Bingo takes place every Wednesday at Canal Mills. Head to the website for more info.

Jessica Murray

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