Images: Bongo's Bingo
Rave intervals, dildo prizes and dance offs - welcome to Bongo's Bingo. The probability number game is no longer limited to the Mecca with your nan, Jonny Bongo and his team have turned it on its head, transforming a usually reserved and quiet pastime into marker-dabbing mayhem in Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff and Manchester.
On arrival to Liverpool's Camp and Furnace, we pick up our bingo book and marker pen and make our way into the 'hall'. With tickets and a drink in hand, you're fully armed for the night ahead. You take your pew and get in the zone before cheeky chappy Jonny Bongo and his two glamorous assistants (lads dressed like old ladies) signal the start of the mischief.
The rules are briefly explained. First up you're looking for a line, or as they explain in Liverpool it's called 'a stripe', then there's two lines, or 'a fat stripe'. For those the prizes start off relatively tame; a bottle of malibu, a luxury bath mat, a Peppa Pig kitchen set, a box of Coco Pops.
The chocolate cereal announcement is followed by 'CoCo' by O.T Genasis amid howls of approval. This is clearly a crowd favourite, the stakes are high. The winner is asked by Jonny, 'Do you want to keep them for breakfast, or are you gonna make it rain?' The room erupts with cheers of 'MAKE IT RAIIIINN!', and as requested she takes the Coco Pops out of the bag and chucks them up into the air, covering everyone within a three metre proximity.
As the night progresses, the prizes get bigger and better. We're talking a flat screen TV, a signed by Messi Barcelona top and a double ended dildo. The winner of the latter is asked to get down on one knee as she's knighted with the floppy fallace whilst Berlin's 'Take My Breath Away' plays in the background. Yep, just as spectacular as you'd imagine.
With such a boisterous crowd, the occasional hoot can be mistaken for a bingo call, so Jonny Bongo asks, "Was that a call or was it a dickhead?!', in response everyone screams 'DICKHEAD!'. And when someone shouts 'Bingo' but the card has been marked wrong they're met with chants of 'Why you always lyyyying? Mhmm oh my god, stop fucking lying.'
As people collect their prizes and during toilet breaks, the song selections are so brilliantly noughties. 'Gotta Get Thru This' by Daniel Beddingfield and 'Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)' by Eamon are just some of the classics which tide us over as we patiently wait for another round.
Halfway through comes the moment everyone had been waiting for - an S Club party. Albeit it was only Jo and Bradley from the group but it's just as effective when you're drunk. As they sing 'Reach', 'Don't Stop Movin' and 'S Club Party', the crowds lap up the opportunity to relive their youth, jumping up and down on the benches and filming the moment on their phones.
Another round filled with shouts like 'Your nan's done it, your grandad's done it, it's number 69!' leads to a rave interval. Glow sticks in hands, The Vengaboys blasting, drinks spilling everywhere - this is arguably the highlight of the night. Still riding on a high, the prizes reach an enviable level after the rave - a group of lads pick up an actual boat and a girl wins a dance off to receive £1000.
The number of rounds and breaks throughout the evening is just right, you don't feel disappointed that the night has ended too fast, nor do you feel like it's dragged on. You really do get your money's worth.
Although the concept of the game is simple - it's just bingo for younger people - the team have managed to get it completely spot on with the prizes, the guests, the tunes and the venues. We expect a full house for all of Bongo Bingo's upcoming events.
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