WHEN you think of bingo you may have visions of a game for older generations – but an event being held monthly in Leamington is changing all that.
Bongo’s Bingo is slightly similar to your usual game – you get a pad with numbers and a pen, and that’s about where the similarities end.
I recently went to The Assembly in Leamington to find out what all the fuss was about after hearing friends talking about the event, and I left with a completely new view of the game.
Bongo’s Bingo is for those over the age of 18 and mixes bingo and prizes with music.
And it’s certainly going down well in Leamington – tickets to the most recent offering had sold out weeks in advance and the Spencer Street venue was packed.
As soon as the music began revellers stood on their benches dancing and two men in fancy dress took to the stage – where they remained all night, dancing and collecting bingo tickets from those who shouted ‘full house’.
Bingo caller and DJ Rich Kelly had a great soundtrack playing until around midnight, from power ballads to Guns N Roses, Arctic Monkeys and even S Club 7.
He tied many of the songs in with bingo numbers as they were called – and the prizes were equally as impressive, even if some of them verged on the ludicrous – from £500 in cash or bottles of spirits to a cardboard cutout of celebrity chef Ainsley Harriot (yes, really) and even some slightly more risque prizes.
Part of this strangeness is what makes the event what it is – and it is not a game for the fainthearted.
But if you are looking for a lot of laughs, dancing and a good night out, then Bongo’s Bingo is definitely not one to be missed.
The event currently has shows monthly in Leamington along with dates in Birmingham and Wolverhampton – and has proved such a success it has even headed to warmer shores in Dubai and Australia.
Event co-founder Johnny Bongo says he believes it’s the social experience which makes it a hit with audiences across the world.
He told the Observer: “It’s hugely popular everywhere we go. It’s quintessentially bingo but we have amped it up – everyone is dancing on the benches and going mad one minute, then it’s silence again as we play the bingo.
“The nights go between hundreds of people going absolutely wild, to playing bingo, to going wild again – it’s amazing to see. It’s a very shared and social experience too. We have had a 91-year old lady celebrating her birthday with her family with us to groups of students, and pretty much everyone in-between.
“Winning a prize is great if you do, but it’s literally more about taking part and all being there together. It’s really special, it has to be seen to be believed.”
Tickets cost around £13 each. Visit www.bongosbingo.co.uk for a full list of dates and to book.