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1st October 2018

Review: Bongo’s Bingo at Manchester Academy

The infinitely-popular student event arrived in Manchester – along with awkward puns, interesting prizes, and some questionable dancing
Review: Bongo’s Bingo at Manchester Academy
Photo:Jack Kirwin

After starting in Liverpool three years ago, Bongo’s Bingo has grown into an international phenomenon. The event has since grown to transform bingo across the world, with regular shows in Ibiza, Dubai, and Australia. The famed bingo night returned to the UK for its first ever show at Manchester Academy last Thursday, and it sure was ‘top of the shop’!

The rules were pretty straightforward to begin with, firstly shouting BINGO if you had a horizontal line, then two lines, and, finally three lines – also called a full house. If you shouted out BINGO falsely you were called out by the crowd for being a ‘d*ckhead’, and if two people called out BINGO at the same time, an on-stage dance off was the decider. Prizes awarded included a cut out Phillip Schofield, a ‘henry’ hoover, and various bottles of booze, perfect for any student house in Manchester.

How much focus could be placed on winning such prizes was questionable however. Every few numbers, the room would transform into a raucous, action-packed nightclub as the host belted out a range of disco classics. There were recurrent inside jokes as well, for example, every time 33 was called out, an Irish theme took over the hall. It was quite a shock when the numbers were called out so quickly, making you panic frantically at whether you missed a row that could have won you a top prize.

This was as much as a no holds barred student house party as it was a bingo night – at times the bingo itself was discarded for song-after-song of throwback classics. The spectacle wasn’t even the dramatic lighting, chances to win, or the music. Rather the event was brought together by the eccentricity of the Scouse host, who openly targeted members of the crowd for public humiliation, in between the expected, yet still cringe-worthy, puns for each number. Slightly less anticipated were the back-up dancers, who flirted with controversial dance moves, inappropriate encounters with on-stage participants, and various levels of nudity, throughout the evening.

The night wound to a close with a winner found for the top prize of £500, with the exasperated scribbling slowly gathering pace throughout the rounds. Before rows of students filed out onto the streets however, a few final songs were blazed out over the loudspeakers, predictable end of night classics, such as ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Wonderwall’. Between dancing on tables and belting out the ultimate throwbacks, coupled with a few pints, it really didn’t matter if you won anything in the end.

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