The decline of bingo across the United Kingdom through the 00s and early 10s was well-documented and accredited to several different social and economic reasons. But the main story was that a much-loved behemoth of entertainment in the country was fading from existence.
It was sad to see for many people who had previously enjoyed the traditional game of numbered balls, but thanks to a series of innovative moves by passionate people, bingo is on the rise once more. Bingo is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, and while the remaining traditional bingo halls are benefitting, the revival is being propelled by new ways to play.
One of the headline acts of the new-look bingo industry is the globe-trotting production of Bongo’s Bingo. Its intoxicating mix of nightclub shenanigans and the game of bingo has helped to change the stigma that helped bingo to plummet over the decades since its heyday.
On 29 December, Bongo’s Bingo is coming to Clapham, London, with a very special dose of bingo action.
What is Bongo’s Bingo?
This isn’t the first time that Bongo’s Bingo has thrilled the people of Clapham.
Simply put: Bongo’s Bingo flies in the face of the stereotypical bingo night. Bingo has often had the perception of being boring due to it mostly being a silent, eyes-down game. The element of gambling kept it exciting for the players, but there wasn’t a great deal of appeal from someone looking in who wanted to enjoy a night of laughs and thrills.
Bongo’s Bingo decided to change all of that, mashing together the game of bingo and the prizes that it yields with the antics of a crazy night out. Those who attend do indeed play bingo and mark numbers from a sheet with their dabbers, but they also dance, sing, win random prizes, get covered in confetti, hear some 90s pop classics, and watch some hilarious live performances.
The creators, Jonny ‘Bongo’ Lacey and Josh Burke, helped to revive two formerly popular forms of entertainment in the UK with Bongo’s Bingo. Not only does the ever-popular event bring back bingo, but it’s also bringing back the club night. As stated in an interview with the co-creator Josh Burke: “going to a club night can be quite monotonous [as you’re] dancing for four hours straight.”
Bongo’s Bingo has something new going on every other minute it seems, going from dabbing in bingo books to dancing on the tables in an instant. It’s an exciting format that uses the prize-winning power and competition of bingo as a core to more extravagant occurrences throughout the night.
Bongo’s Bingo helping to revive the game
Bongo’s Bingo often brings in new themes within its event, shown above in a crossover with artist Kelis.
One of the major problems with bingo, as it started to slide, was its inability or reluctance to adapt and grow. Sure, more bingo halls popped up across the country, but they didn’t embrace the changing times. As we all know, growth is unavoidable and technology is continually developing, but bingo wanted to stay in its lane instead of growing into new areas to enhance its offering. This was to its detriment.
Bingo, particularly the largest bingo brands of the time, were too slow or not committed enough to the obviously appealing side of online bingo, leading to a decline in the game everywhere. Online bingo doesn’t necessarily draw from the land-based audience: it raises the presence and profile of bingo, allowing it to reach new demographics that would then be more inclined to play bingo games at halls in person.
The eventual embrace of the digital space was one of the key components behind bingo’s ongoing resurgence. Now, new players are being traduced to the game of bingo and learning how to play. The increased convenience of the platform is appealing to those who wouldn’t want to try the game for the first time in public. Then, there are additional incentives to the novice or returning player, such as the larger selection of bingo rooms, a wide variety of other games like slots, and getting a bingo bonus as a new player, during the week, at the weekend, or in the form of loyalty points.
While online bingo is offering benefits to playing the game in the form of variety and promotions for bingo and associated games like slots, Bongo’s Bingo and other similar events are helping to eradicate the stigma. The term ‘bingo’ just being associated with such a lively and exciting event helps to dispel the stereotype of it being for the elderly or the boring. The duo act as a two-pronged attack, with Bongo’s Bingo changing perceptions and online bingo giving people the chance to find out how fun regular bingo can be – thus enticing them to play it in person at a hall.
What to expect on 29 December in Clapham
A highlights video from the Bongo & The Beast event of January 2018.
Clapham isn’t just hosting any old Bongo’s Bingo event: it’s hosting Bongo & The Beast! On 28, 29, and 30 December, The Grand Theatre will be sprawling with bingo fanatics looking to have a great time. There will, of course, be all of the usual big prizes, naff prizes, rave intervals, and dance-offs, but all of the bingo will be pantomime-inspired, as will the costumes of the entertainers.
Bingo’s Bingo has become an incredibly popular event up and down the UK, and it has even found success as far abroad as Australia. It’s helping to change the perception of bingo, reinvigorate the classic British game, and most importantly, make it a form of entertainment once again.
If you missed out on tickets for Bongo & The Beast, Bongo’s Bingo will be returning to Clapham for six dates in January 2020, including the B*ll*cks To Blue Monday Special on 20 January.