It’s the bonkers phenomenon that has taken the world by storm, from Ibiza to Dubai, transforming the traditional image of bingo for millions of people! Since making its Tyneside debut last year, Bongo’s Bingo has gained a reputation for being one of the wildest nights out in Newcastle. Everybody I know that’s been has said the same thing, “It’s hard to describe, you’ve got to experience it for yourself”. So back in December I managed to get my hands on some of the hottest tickets in Toon and I’m going to attempt to describe what I experienced!
Bongo’s Bingo is hosted at The Boiler Shop, a huge converted train building workshop in the centre of Newcastle that I’ve previously blogged about HERE. It’s the perfect venue for this unique event; there’s plenty of space for the rows of tressel tables and benches that provide the unallocated seating and giant screens sit either side of an elevated stage which is kitted out with decks for the host to entertain the crowds.
We arrived early, as advised, to grab a good seat and I’m glad we did as the place was already packed an hour before the first number was called! The layout reminded of a school dinner hall and we wandered between the tables for a while trying to find a space near the cool kids (aka people who had been before and could maybe help us out if we got lost with the game).
You get handed a bingo book and pen as you walk in, but the similarity with any other night at the bingo ends there!
The event’s creator and former pub quiz master, ‘Jonny Bongo’, is the now famous host of these wild nights but he’s recently had to take on new recruits in order to keep up with the demand for Bongo’s Bingo across the globe. I couldn’t confidently tell you the name of the host on the night I attended as my pals and I were sat quite far back from the stage but I was well aware of his arrival when I heard a voice boom confidently through the speakers… “Let’s play f***ing bingo!”
The crowd went crazy, like a group of hormonal teens at a boyband concert. Whoever the host was, he instantly won the affections of the fun loving audience who hung off his every word the whole night. Whatever he asked us to do, we did it, including the Macarena!
It’s hard to capture the unique mix of everything that happens during a game of Bongo’s Bingo – it’s partly a show, partly a rave, partly a hedonistic escape, but amidst the dance-offs and alcohol fuelled intervals the basics of bingo are still very much part of the experience.
The throng of players goes eerily quiet as the host calls out the numbers in his imitable style. Some numbers though have a tenuous link to a song that is then played out at high volume, resulting in players immediately jumping to their feet to bust out a move!
I would describe it as the crazy love child from a three way between Mecca Bingo, The Hacienda and The Price is Right!
My reference to the 80’s gameshow comes from the weird and wonderful prizes that are up for grabs throughout the night. During the early games, the first players to check off a line or full house of numbers on their bingo card were awarded with celebrity cardboard cut outs, boxes of Coco-pops and 6ft inflatable rubber ducks. Although, from their elated reactions as they made their way to the stage to collect their prizes, you’d think they’d just won a Lotto jackpot!
The giveaways did get better as the night went on, winners of the later games walked away with hundreds of pounds in cash. One lucky beggar even got a Henry Hoover, I was most jealous.
Bongo’s Bingo far surpassed the level of crazy I was expecting… particularly bearing in mind I went along on a Tuesday night! Truth be told, I probably wasn’t in the right frame of mind (or anywhere near intoxicated enough) to really get in to the full spirit of it. That definitely can’t be said for the ladies on the table next to us who partied like pros the whole night.
I would go back, for sure, but I would probably go on a weekend when I don’t have work the next morning and now that I know what to expect I would let my hair down a bit more next time. I also think it would be the perfect place for a hen party or stag night.
2018 is set to be an even bigger and better year for Bongo’s Bingo. If you fancy experiencing it for yourself, you’ll need to set your alarm for when tickets are released because they are all snapped up almost immediately. The February and March tickets that went on sale earlier this month are already all sold out.
Your next chance to book is 6pm on Tuesday 16th January, this is when tickets will go on sale for a hotly anticipated trio of St Patrick’s Day events in March. Boyzlife (a duo made up Westlife’s Brian and Boyzone’s Keith) have been booked to appear as special guests so tickets are sure to go faster than Michael Flatley’s legs!
I’ve done my best to give an insight in to what to expect at Bongo’s Bingo, hopefully it’s convinced you to check it out as I think it’s one of those things you have to try at least once! Apologies I didn’t take too many pics on the night as I was too busy sharing my experience on Insta-stories but this promo video pretty much sums up the night…
Have you experienced Bongo’s Bingo? I’d love to know what you thought so leave me a message in the comments below.