When you think of bingo your mind probably flashes to large empty halls, littered with your Nanna Gwen’s ol’ pals, armed with a cuppa tea, packet of custard creams and their dabbers at the ready, and if you asked us a few years back if we wanted to join in for a trusty game, we’d probably have laughed off the request quickly. But, that time has since passed because bingo called and it’s making an epic comeback.
Over the last couple of years, bingo has undergone a whole new revolution, and it seems to be attracting a completely different demographic. Oh yes, it’s the millennial who’s brought the pastime back and it might just be better than ever. One bingo hall in particular that’s rising through the ranks is Dabbers Social Bingo, Britain’s first purpose built contemporary bingo hall, and boy have they made one hell of an entrance to the funny little scene. Loaded with some of the country’s funniest comedians, top performers and musicians, we’d heard it was a right laugh so as a team, we hopped on the next overground train out of Wandsworth Town and into the depths of east London for a night of dab, dab, dabbing to test it all out for ourselves.
Dabbers Social Bingo isn’t exactly situated where you’d expect. Located just a stones throw away from Bank station, amidst the hustle and bustle of London’s leading financial firms and billowing skyscrapers, Dabbers Social Bingo helps to add a splash of charisma and colour into the incredibly corporate and business-centric area.
Having only ever played the simple board game version back when I was literally in primary school, I urged half of the team to channel their inner granny (or millennial, if you wish), for a wild evening of cheesy comedy, popping Prosecco and balling bingo with me.
To say Dabbers Social Bingo turns bingo traditions on their head is a real understatement. Open throughout the week, each night boasts a different theme, from the Dabbers Brunch Club to the Hip Hop Bingo, as well as channeling the bingo’s olden heritage in their Vintage Bingo bonanza. We however joined on a slightly dreary Tuesday night for their Bawlers Bingo, which sees comedy and cabaret take centre stage with rather electrifying results and hilarious prizes.
To say Dabbers Social Bingo turns bingo traditions on their head is a real understatement.
Being a Tuesday night we were bewildered by the mega turn out, with the whole floor bursting with work parties and large groups, all raring to have a boozy time and win some slightly bemusing prizes. Reminiscent of the Lottery Draw Machines you see on The National Lottery, their special custom built ball machine is the star of the show with its glistening lights and dazzling balls. It’s worth the visit alone.
Arriving ahead of time ourselves too, we soon armed ourselves with a flute of Prosecco and selection of nibbles. We opted for The Big Dab burger, one of their Dabbers balls and a medley of fries. Dabbing begins right away with the menu, allowing you to dab your choices with your ‘dabbing pen’ before heading up to the bar to order. Shortly after our comic host for the evening, TV’s Mark Dolan, fleeted to the stage introducing himself, the event and suggesting everyone grabs a plate of food before the fireworks really begin.
As for the actual bingo, the process is fairly simple and is an incredibly interactive affair (so if you’re looking to grab your prize and go, you’d better keep looking). The lights go down and each round is paired to old school tunes you can’t help but belt your heart out too.
In amongst the occasional humorous comment from our trusty host, Mark Dolan, there’s four rounds of fast-paced bingo so be prepared for a whole lotta dabbing, with four different eager stand-up comedians looking to crack in a joke or two. In each round, there’s two chances to win a prize for either first getting a full horizontal row and then another for a full house.
Prizes range from novelty items to tickets to experiences, and yelling BINGO doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the game… If someone else successfully dabs at the same time as you, it’s on to a stage challenge to reveal which one of you wins. That evening saw our fellow competitors battle it out with comic Jacob Edwards in search of his ‘hidden’ Curly Wurly chocolate bar…
Following on from Jacob was the UK’s least successful Mexican Wrestler, Jerry Bakewell, who began his bit with a hilarious rendition of ‘All Night Long’ in which he had rewritten the lyrics especially for a bingo audience. Kate Butch completed the line up with her comedic drag act and yet another musical rendition, this time of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights switching between flawless vocals and a broad Yorkshire accent as two competitors competed to draw Kate for a bonus prize.
By now, you’re probably wondering if we managed to yell ‘BINGO!’ at the top of our lungs and snag up a prize, and to put it lightly, we didn’t. We were terrible and barely even close to shouting the all-important five letter word! But, despite it all, it was a real laugh and a great alternative to a standard night out with friends down your local boozer. Who knew your nan’s favourite game could be so fun?