June 17 was the ‘Night of the Divas’ at Bongo’s Bingo, Manchester. And what a night it was.
If you’ve been to the UK’s best bingo rave event, then you’ll know exactly what I’m about to describe. You’ll have flashbacks to the only bingo you’ve ever been to where you managed to sing Celine Dion stood on a bench, Irish dance just because the number 33 was called and just generally participate in absolute, elated chaos. And if you haven’t been, this is your invite to do so – tickets are available for the rest of summer at The Albert Hall.
‘Night of the Divas’ was always going to be a big one for Bongo’s Bingo. It’s the same loved, wild and vibrant experience, but with the guaranteed soundtrack of seven absolute legends: Whitney, Madonna, Cher, Rihanna, Celine, Dolly and Beyonce. As with all of their special themed nights, it’s the ultimate Bongo’s Bingo experience whether you’re an experienced Bongo’s alumni or a newcomer.
Saturday’s sold-out crowd were certainly there to have a good time. Walking in, it almost felt like the biggest hen party you could ever attend. Brides-to-be and their respective entourages had a monopoly on the event – in the best way possible. There was an incredible array of bridal outfits, involving varying amounts of white glitter, sequins, tassels and shimmer and of course, the ‘hen party’ sashes. Their energy definitely set the night off on the right tone. That was until the rowdy, Scouse bingo caller (dressed in a Succession-themed t-shirt adorned with Matthew Macfayden’s face), reminded them that 46% of marriages end in divorce.
That didn’t stop the party, and future brides, hen parties and other bingo players alike, soon joined in with the countdown. Whilst I maintain that this is one of the most chaotic and extravagant events you could attend in Manchester, I am also forever impressed by how clearly the game is explained and runs. Clear instructions are given, which even those who are already on their sixth Red Stripe will understand. So if you’re a semi-serious bingo player, this night is also for you.
Prizes are suitably impractical and weird, including a space hopper, 12-pack of Hooch, collection of Disney princesses but also a cash prize of £1500. So when they say it’s all to play for, it really, really is. Unfortunately on Saturday though there weren’t any simultaneous bingo calls, so no infamous dance-offs. There were plenty of enthusiastic prize winners however who made full use of their limelight, and provided another level of entertainment and audience participation.
Overall though, the evening is really made by the enthusiasm and dedication of the hosts, who even several drinks in, manage to keep everything going. Their commentary, set against an incredible playlist, keeps the energy and vibes at an incredible high all night long.
As the music shifts from the legendary Diva soundtracks, into High School Musical, back to S Club 7 and more, Albert Hall really comes into its own. It’s the perfect venue, with actually pretty impressive acoustics (it is after all a gig venue when bingo players haven’t descended upon it). Bar service is great, they’re willing to serve whole bottles of wine between two pint cups, and (potentially a strange comment) it’s a really well-managed toilet queue – you don’t have to worry about potentially missing a winning Bingo call!
It’s fun, chaotic, vibrant, wild and an absolute staple of a Manchester night out. As the host reminds everyone, Bongo’s Bingo is very much a marathon rather than a sprint. Whilst this is definitely advice to try and ensure people remember more than just ‘Game 1’, as an unathletic person I’ll interpret this as Bongo’s Bingo existing as the only marathon I would like to attempt, and also repeat.
It’s the perfect event for friends, lovers, hens, stags, exs, enemies and even colleagues. If you haven’t been, get yourself down to the Albert Hall (or one of the many venues across the UK that host Bongo Bingo events) ASAP. And if you’ve already been, go again or try out one of the special themed evenings that are hosted – you won’t regret it.
Bongo’s Bingo has dates at Manchester’s Albert Hall throughout July and August. Get your tickets now.