As we enter the Scala, we are given a bingo card and felt-tip pen – it’s anything but a boring bingo hall, with music blasting and red lights glaring. Huge screens tell us that we are ‘experiencing the calm before the storm.’ Before too long, a countdown appears on the screens displaying X amount of minutes until ‘shit gets real.’ At this point we are intrigued, but pretty casual about actually playing a game of… bingo?
But, imagine bingo with your grandma, on steroids, times 10, in a club, and no grandma. And Rebel Bingo’s return to London is in a bigger, better venue at the Scala.
The rules are simple: get a line in a row on your bingo card, run up on stage, hug the announcer, and collect your prize. Rebel Bingo takes their stuff seriously, and your card will be checked to confirm you aren’t faking it. If you get up on stage and it turns out you haven’t actually won, they promptly flash up ‘LOSER’ on the big screens, and the speakers blast out Ludacris’ Move, Bitch (Get Out the Way). The announcer is accompanied by two scantily clad female assistants whose use of bingo lingo is far from your granny’s ‘66 clickety click’ – and most of it is probably unprintable here, but you get the idea.
At first we didn’t mind about winning or not, it’s all in the taking part and that. But about 30 seconds in, you find yourself getting more and more invested in the game, until winning a toy panda seems like the most important thing in the world. The top prize was a bike, but being a non-bike rider, I was really set on the panda.
Sadly, I didn’t get my chance to run up on stage and hug the announcer. However, Rebel Bingo still made for a great night – once you get over the devastation of seeing someone else win the panda you had pinned your hopes on.
The atmosphere is absolute madness, but in a great way – the place was packed out with people covered in Harry Potter-style scars and various other doodles as they found a new use for their bingo pen. The music is non-stop R&B and pop classics, so you can’t help but carry on partying even when the bingo stops.
My only criticism would be that I simply wanted more – more bingo, more prizes. Rebel Bingo is a winning formula that leaves you wanting more, and also leaves you with a panda-shaped hole in your heart, but that might just be me.
Rebel Bingo goes on tour to Nottingham, Brighton and Bristol. For more information about upcoming Rebel Bingo dates, visit the website.
Get a taste of Rebel Bingo in the trailer:
Rebel Bingo took place on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 March at:
275 Pentonville Road