As part of a busy and severely messy Bank Holiday weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the special Bongo’s Bingo at the Albert Hall on Friday with live performing guests – the So Solid Crew. Bongo’s Bingo is described as “the bastard child of traditional bingo complete with rave rounds and dance offs” and so I was looking forward to a mental evening of ridiculous proportions and I was not disappointed.
As I sat there in Albert Hall, half cut, covered in yellow ink, lager, confetti and Coco Pops I quietly wondered to myself just how in the world I was going to do a write up about my experience!? One side of me wanted to explain in full detail exactly what in the world happened, but the other side didn’t want to ruin the surprise and excitement that I felt as the bingo began and I had no clue what was going to happen.
If you have never been to Bongo’s Bingo, it’s very difficult to sufficiently explain exactly what the hell it is and how things go down. Obviously you can expect a load of bingo games, but there’s also dancing, shouting and singing, plus so much more that at no point do you feel like you’re stuck in the local Labour club with your Nan and her gang of geriatric dibber dabbers.
Upon arrival you’ll receive your game book, containing 5 separate bingo games with 6 bingo cards on each, with the potential to win a line, two lines and a full house with a variety of amazing prizes for each.
A line will usually garner you a bottle of booze – along the lines of Archers or Malibu; something you would have pilfered from your mam’s liquor cabinet as a naughty 14 year old about to go down the park with your mates. Two line prizes vary wildly from absolutely mental to bat-shit weird including a Bruce Forsyth cut-out, a Henry Hoover and one of them dancing men you see outside car showrooms in America. Finally – a full house will get you some cold hard cash.
As we all sat there playing, the games are constantly interrupted by any excuse to go wild – a 33 will start an Irish jig, a false call will cause everyone to heckle the shit out of the caller, and anything with an 8 in it will cause everyone to shout out “eeeight” in their best Belfast accent. The relentless tense countdown of each bingo game is quickly sacrificed in the name of having a laugh – my annoying competitive streak was quickly relinquished and I just wanted to get up, dance, and be a knob head.
Housed in the Albert Hall, anyone who has visited must know that it is an absolutely stunning space; one that instils a sense of awe as you enter and continue to appreciate as you walk around, go to the toilets or fall over on the dance floor. The huge stage and massive balcony lend themselves perfectly to the mental games and spectacle that Bongo’s Bingo needs – while never feeling too impersonal.
I’m pretty sure that when So Solid Crew started belting out Garage and Grime tunes on London pirate radio stations back in 2001, they would never have thought they’d be privileged enough to be stuck on stage in Manchester, singing to a baying crowd of pissed up idiots, sweating their tits off while a cardboard cut-out of Bruce Forsyth jigged around at the back.
The ‘Crew’ was made up of Harvey, who got his top off almost instantly, Lisa Maffia who looked like she wanted to leave the stage almost immediately, and Megaman who the audience wondered who he was almost immediately. Belting out some classic garage and grime songs, while everyone patiently waited for them to sing their only hit ’21 seconds’. They finally did and it was brilliant.
Bongo’s Bingo takes place every Tuesday at the Albert Hall so get yourself down for one of the best nights you can have without kicking a duck up the arse. On top of this, the geezers over at Bongo’s have today announced a new special on May 12th – featuring Boyzlife – that’s right – a bastardised amalgamation of Louis Walsh’s genius with Brian McFadden from Westlife and Keith Duffy from Boyzone coming together to belt out loads of songs that they spent so many years doing backing vocals for.
Bongo’s Bingo present Boyzlife
Friday 12th May
Albert Hall, 27 Peter St, City Centre, Manchester M2 5QR