Brace yourself for the bonkers world of Bongo’s Bingo as the phenomenon that’s turned the humble game of bingo on its head returns to Newcastle’s Boiler Shop for a festive run of shows.
Noughties boy band 5ive - well three of them to be precise - were the guests of honour at Saturday night’s show before the event returns later this month with S Club 7 and a run of festive specials. The music guests cap off the night’s entertainment, but before all that there’s some semi-serious bingo to play.
For those who haven’t experienced the mayhem for themselves yet, don’t go expecting your average night at the bingo. This is bingo meets rave meets dance off meets nothing you’ve ever seen before in your life.
There’s cold, hard cash to be won over four games of heads down bingo - one player walked away with £1,400 - but there’s also a Phillip Schofield cut out, a giant unicorn toy, Sambuca and Coco Pops up for grabs.
At the helm was DJ-cum-bingo caller Micky Pickles who calls out the numbers in his own inimitable Scouse style with certain numbers triggering certain songs - 33 leads to Irish anthems like The Pogues, number 9 starts Shearer chants (the Mackems went quiet for that one), number 7 sparks an S Club 7 sing-a-long and 56 leads to everyone leaping up for Steps track 5678.
Micky’s helpers came in the form of blokes in frocks and synthetic wigs, Thirsty Thelma and Dirty Daisy (pretty sure that’s not their actual names), who check your numbers in between raving on the stage in their white stockings and Vans.
You’ll need your own pair of flats for all the dancing you’ll be doing too. Even the most reserved of players can’t help but get involved in this infectious game which had everyone dancing on the benches and singing along from the get go. I defy anyone not to get bitten by the Bongo’s bug and even my friend laughed in the face of her broken foot to hobble on the benches in between calls - not recommended by GPs.
And woe betide anyone who’s had too much Red Stripe and makes a false call - the air will turn blue and you will be shamed by the whole room.
If it sounds off the wall, that’s because it is. Then, once the numbers are up glo sticks and rubber balls are thrown into the crowd for an impromptu rave before the music act comes on.
For this run of shows, there was three of 5ive - Ritchie, Scott and Sean. They had a tough act to follow and though their moves weren’t quite as energetic as Daisy and Thelma’s they got the crowds back on their feet with hits such as Keep on Movin’ and Slam Dunk Da Funk before the bingo winners and losers headed off into the night with Coco Pops in their hair and glo sticks tucked behind their ears.
What to expect from Bongo’s Bingo
•Queues - tickets aren’t allocated for any particular seats. It’s first come, first served on the benches so get down early if you want a place at the front.
•Food and drink - expect van style hot dogs, Red Stripe and pints. A bottle of white wine will set you back around £18 and a bottle of Prosecco costs £25 but the latter sold out fast on the night we visited.
•Timings - it’s a full night of entertainment starting at 7.30pm for the first game of bingo and finishing past 11.30pm, depending on the music act.
•Tickets - get ready to hammer the refresh button if you want tickets for yourself: they sell like hot cakes. For updates see bongosbingo.co.uk
•Availability - Bongo’s Bingo has just announced its February dates for Boiler Shop, Newcastle with shows on February 7, 8, 22 and 23 and two Valentine’s specials on February 14 and 15. Tickets will go on sale on from 6pm on Wednesday, December 5.