Every so often a new craze comes around that turns a previously outdated activity into the coolest thing in town. It’s happened with knitting, then taxidermy and now Bingo, when did London become so obsessed with channeling its inner granny?
Rebel Bingo is less a club night (it ends at about 11) than a revolutionary movement where a team of exuberant party animals have re-invented the game into a scantily clad, over dramatic and extremely raunchy version of itself. They’ve taken every element of the game and re-imagined its dark side. Sardonic and tongue in cheek the makers of rebel bingo are inspired by cabaret, disco and rock gigs to drag the pastime kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Initially outraging the entire bingo community their events have been described as ‘nothing more than drunken sex parties’ by those who feel like the movement is destroying the true spirit of the game. Recently, however, a truce has been called as Mecca Bingo opened its doors to let the Rebel Bingo team takeover a real bingo hall for the first time earlier in July. The first thing to note about Rebel Bingo is that booking is essential to secure the best deal and the second is that there is no need to turn up on time. Doors are at 8pm but things won’t get going until about an hour later. By 9ish however the venue starts filling up with a thumping nostalgic 90s/00s playlist. Projector screens countdown to the start time proclaiming ‘Shit gets real in…’ and the night begins with spotlights, disco balls and a grand entry from the Rebel Bingo Crew who comprise a foul mouthed compere and sexy dancing girls who read out the numbers.
To participate entrants must buy a booklet and pen on arrival and then cross off their numbers as they are read out onstage. Be warned however, drunk people and pens will inevitably result in being drawn all over. It’s worth the risk of discovering a rude image on your neck later on however as the prizes are pretty good, this time including roller skates, £100 worth of takeaway food, two branded Bulmer’s deck chairs, a lot of cider, and a disco ball.
As the name suggests this is Bingo, but not in its traditional sense. Essentially the night can be categorized by pure filth. The compere acts like a rockstar and riffs off the revolting one liners of the ball girls who have the dirtiest minds imaginable. Phrases such as ‘prolapsed arsehole’ and ‘ease it in with a shoe horn’ are not easily forgotten.
Once a winner has completed a line of numbers they leap up on stage to claim their prize. To secure it they have to answer another question as there are usually several winners at once. The team tread a fine line between making their excited winners welcome onstage (if you get a prize you get your own dance) and publicly humiliating those who lose (if you get the answer wrong the whole audience is encouraged to shout loser in your face).
Rebel Bingo is certainly not for the faint hearted but it is for those with a penchant for filthy rhymes and a good sense of fun. The next Rebel Bingo south of the river is at The Clapham Grand on 25th Sept but if you can’t wait until then you could always go north to catch them back at Mecca Bingo in Camden on the 19th Sept.