Review: Bongo Bingo Returns To York

You already know if you'll like it - the following 711 words are purely for my own benefit. 3 stars.

On the 9th of December, Bongo Bingo returned to York Barbican. York Vision went to its York debut night in October, and much of the details here ( are the same. Now, the crew are back with an ABBA-inspired extravaganza, and this time Vision accidently sent along three of its most introverted writers to review it. 

I should preface that no, I was not hurt by the York Vision team having to wait 15 minutes in the cold whilst several layers of management ran around trying to find a guestlist. I was not hurt that I was not immediately recognised and whisked to my own private booth, however I did appreciate us being put on our own private row of benches with an entire security team seemingly dedicated to shooing people away from our special row of ~100 seats. 

After paying the York Barbican rate of £13.70 for two pints of Dark Fruit, we sat down and immediately realised we were not as drunk as the majority of the crowd. It was, objectively, a locals night rather than the student events our readers may be used to and I would recommend pre-drinking hard (to the level you would go to a club to) to make the most of the evening. If you can imagine trying to play a game of bingo in a mosh pit made up entirely of hen parties, you can imagine Bongo Bingo. 

The opening really set the stage for the evening; the host spent at least ten minutes relentlessly hyping up the crowd with bass drops, confetti cannons and club hits, before shouting ‘let’s play some bingo!’ and just like that the tone of the evening was set. 

The deal is that everyone played a normal game of bingo, but every time a call was made a song would come on and everyone got onto the benches and started dancing (some of the numbers also resulted in songs). A hall full of drunk people constantly getting onto drink-covered benches to dance had the expected effect, with lads and lasses falling left, right and centre. After the 20th song, the less energetic members of the crowd (us included) chose to sit down, swarmed in a forest of legs and asses.  The host knew how to work the crowd with jokes and tunes, however some of his transitions came off as a stretch to my relatively-sober mind. ‘1 and 6, sweet 16, just like Sweet Caroline’ is one that sticks in the brain.  

The games of Bingo were unbelievably close, and of the three I remember, all of them ended up with multiple calls for bingo being spotted at the same time and resulting in a dance off between the callers for the cash prize. What are the odds! One of the games ended with our Editor in a four-way dance-off for £150, but unfortunately her routine of scuba-diver and ‘the one where you point your finger in the air and spin your arm’ could not compete with the guy who immediately ripped off his top and threw it into the crowd. However, it must be said that the co-hosting dancers were very nice to Marti when she was up there, so if you go, don’t be afraid to (loudly) call out bingo. 

As the penultimate game was played, a nice lady made the Vision team her target, determined to get us out of our seats and dancing to every song. We didn’t have the heart to tell her we were a trio of introverts who were not drunk enough to let themselves fully go in an environment that was slightly out of their comfort zone. The lady singled me out, grabbing me and announcing ‘I know you want to!’, so naturally I became even worse to prove a point about crossing personal boundaries. 

Overall, Bongo Bingo is exactly what you would expect from looking at the promotional material for Bongo Bingo. If you think that would be your thing, look out for it when it comes to your town and get your drinks in early to have a great night! For those on the fence, maybe try out a regular bingo hall first.