I used to think that bingo was a past time for those past their prime. However in the last few years bingo has had quite the resurgence and become the fun night out activity – booze, balls and bawdy calls – what’s not to love?! So when Players Bingo invited me down to have a game or three I jumped at the chance.
My best friend Faye and I headed to Camden after work, ready to get our bingo on. Players is just a few minutes walk from Camden Town tube in the old Mecca Bingo Hall.
Neither of us had played before but were welcomed by the friendly front desk staff, presented with game books and dobber pens and ushered through a delightfully kitsch bingo ball curtain to the bar area.
We chilled here for an hour or so while they set up the main bingo hall, sipping drinks and catching up. They have a great selection of novelty bingo cocktails, including a Bingostar Martini, served complete with bingo ball and Lucky Lotto which comes with a bingo board clipped to it. Cute! Players also has a pop up restaurant which changes monthly, and Eat, Meat, Cheese, Repeat were serving up delicious looking burgers and fries while we were there.
It was finally time to head into the bingo hall – woah nelly it was MASSIVE! There were only about 30 of us in total, but you could easily sit a couple of hundred players in there. The seats were positioned in fixed pod tables of four, but they’re all pretty close together so you wouldn’t be too far away from your friends if you went as a big party.
We were greeted by our host for the evening who had the most fabulous sequinned dress and really reminded us of Claudia Winkleman in looks and presenting style – lots of fun! She explained the rules of how to play, introduced the live band and talked us through the prizes for the night – £20, £30 and £50 plus – crazily – a fridge freezer, bike and even and inflatable kayak! Fingers crossed! Then, most importantly, we were introduced to Brenda the Bingo Machine and after a rousing yell of RELEASE THE BALLS, it was time to play!
Everyone gets a game card which has several boards on. As a ball with your number is selected, you mark it off with your dobber pen. Easy! I was worried I’d struggle to find my numbers when they were called but each column contains a different set of 10 numbers, one for 1-9, one for 10-19, one for 20-29 etc etc. Everyone always has every number somewhere on their game card, but it will only feature in one board. As you know which column to find it in it’s easy to keep up.
The first game we played, you had to get all numbers in one row on any board of your game card (and the winner received an envelope of £20 cash).
For the second game you needed to have two touching rows (and the winner won £30 cash). For the third game you had to have all your numbers in a board called. The winner for this got £50 cash and also one of the big prizes. All in all we played nine games on three different game cards, so in total you’ve got a good 2-3 hours playing time, which for £12 a ticket is pretty good value!
Sadly we didn’t win any prizes but we had so much fun! It was actually pretty therapeutic using the dobbers and as you always had something to mark off, it kept the games interesting and exciting. The host was really good and the band added fun touches of music to tie in with the famous bingo calls – for example, whenever 17 – Dancing Queen – was called, the band struck up the famous Abba hit, so you had a constantly changing soundtrack with something for everyone.
We went on a Thursday night and it was pretty empty, but they also play on Saturday nights which I imagine would be a bit busier and more rowdy. I’d love to come on a Saturday with a big gaggle of girlfriends – it really is such a fun activity and would be perfect for a birthday or hen do. Though the great thing about coming on a quieter night is there’s more chance of winning!
My bingo preconception has been well and truly changed and I literally can’t wait to go again! We’re planning on going for our next work night out – so excited!
Have you given bingo a go?
I live in Brixton in London. I eat out far too much, am always planning my next trip and have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.