If you haven’t been to Bongo’s Bingo or at least heard of it, where have you been?? The bingo sensation has been taking over the UK and working on the world for the last four years and it started right here in Liverpool! 

What started as a pub quiz in Liverpool has turned into an award winning night of the craziest bingo you will ever play. Rather than sitting in silence waiting for numbers, this bingo event is an immersive and experiential experience inclusive of everyone. Bingo has never been so social!

We wanted to find out more about how Liverpool became the birthplace of one of the most popular nights in the country, so we spoke to one of the co-founders behind the madness, Jonny Bongo!

Eyes down! 👀


Where did the idea of Bongo’s Bingo come from?

I had been running a quiz in Liverpool for about five years in a place called The Shipping Forecast on Slater Street and it stemmed from that. The ethos behind it is, I love pub quizzes. But I thought they were a little boring sometimes so I used a bit of creativity, added a few bonus rounds and come up with questions that would be a bit off the wall. I did that for five years and I kind of got a bit bored of it and was looking to do something a bit new. I teamed up with a guy called Joshua Burke and he suggested about doing a club night. He had been running club nights in Liverpool for years. I had an idea of speed dating but then we come up with the idea of bingo. It was the same sort of format as the quiz, taking something and keeping it at its core of what it is but changing it up a bit. 

So when we try to explain to people what is it, it is bingo, you will play bingo to the traditional rules but it’s taking something that might be a bit stale and breathing new life into it.


What made you decide to start the event in Liverpool?

Well I moved over here when I was 18. I was working in bars for four years in London and I had the opportunity to come back because I got a bit fed up of London. I would say Liverpool was my home now, I’m originally from Belfast but i’ve been here for the best part of 15 years. I love it and it’s got a massive Irish connection. I think Scousers are similar to the Irish, they have a good sense of humour and are just up for a good laugh. 

I’ll always stay in Liverpool and I love the fact that the Bingo has grown to 30/40 destinations and cities but I love that Liverpool is the Bingo’s home city and is where it started. I think people love that as well. When it gets brought up in conversation; “have you heard of this Bingo thing?” and people are like, “oh yeah, that started in Liverpool!”, I love that.


Do you think Liverpool has really embraced it?

Yeah, Scousers are very proud people. People say a load of stuff starts in Liverpool, the amount of bands and nights and comedians. I think people get behind them more. The fact that the bingo is a Liverpool brand is amazing.


Are you surprised by how big and fast Bongo’s Bingo has grown as an event?

Yeah, I wasn't expecting it at all. I still pinch myself and can’t really get my head around that. We’re into our 4th year now and when I get to the end of each year I look back and think, “surely it can't go any bigger than this”, but it does! I think that will continue to happen. 

We started something we set up for a laugh and I never imagined how much people would love it and keep coming back. There's definitely no sign of it slowing down, I feel like we’re still scratching the surface in a way. 


You’ve been scaling up Bongo’s Bingo recently, how's that going?

Yeah, we’ve done some big specials but I think we’ve always tried to push ourselves. We’re not money driven, we’re driven on having good times and good memories and putting on the best shows that we can. I don’t think I would enjoy doing the shows if I thought they were stale. I have a short attention span anyway so I can get bored really quickly. The team is always pushing to put on bigger shows, different shows, always trying to add new elements and testing different things. 


Do you see it carrying on for a long time?

Well it's just another form of bingo and bingo has never died out. I think it's just a new kind of bingo, like you can either go and play Gala Bingo or Bongo's Bingo and I hope it continues forever.


What is your favourite thing about doing Bongo’s Bingo?

Without sounding cheesy, I think it’s just about putting smiles on people's faces and watching people leave having had a great time and experience. I’ve got a job where I’m doing something I love, within that people are having a good time and I’m at the helm of that! It’s a humbling experience. 


You now consider Liverpool as your home, what is it about the city you like so much?

Obviously the similarities between Liverpool and Ireland; Belfast in particular. For me it’s the people and the culture, I have always felt welcome here. I would almost consider myself as a bit of an adopted scouser. 

I love going around the Georgian Quarter, Falkner Square and The Baltic Triangle so it’s nice to be doing the shows in Camp and Furnace in the centre of that. The food and drink scene over the last few years has completely erupted since I started living here too. The range of things you can get now is unbelievable. 


Without giving too much away what can people expect if they’ve never been before?

I think at its core it's a good night out and a good craic - as they say in Ireland. You leave your pretenses at the door and it’s just about letting loose, we don't take ourselves too seriously. 

There are people from all walks of life, all ages and everyone is just on the same level. We have been lucky to find that we haven't had many people come who haven't liked it. It’s kind of guaranteed you’ll probably have a laugh even if it might not sound like your kind of thing.


5 THINGS TO EXPECT AT BONGO’S BINGO

We don’t want to give too much away but just in case you have never heard about Liverpool’s bingo phenomenon here are 5 things you can expect to help get you prepared!

1. RANDOM MUSIC 🎶

You literally couldn't guess what song is about to come on next when you’re in the middle of a round of bingo or in one of the rave breaks. Everything from a Christmas song in July, a 90s dance classic or the Frozen soundtrack could burst on the speakers and all of a sudden we all know the words to ‘Let It Go’.


2. SUSIE AND HEIDI 👯‍♀️

Alongside Jonny Bongo are his two hench women Slutty Susie and Horny Heidi. They get the show going and run around making sure you get your prizes when you shout ‘house!’ or alert the whole room to the fact you’ve just made a false call; be warned, check your numbers carefully!


3. NON-STOP DANCING 💃

Other than when you’re sitting down to mark off your bingo numbers you will be up dancing non-stop all night! Whether it’s trying to keep yourself upright dancing on a bench, down the front in a rave or just keeping the aisles bouncing - it’s the ultimate dancing workout. 


4. CRAZY PRIZES 🦄

The prizes at Bongo’s aren’t any old prizes. Expect to win everything from cash prizes to a box of coco pops, a cardboard cutout of Phillip Schofield to a Henry Hoover and a giant unicorn. See if you can get them home in the taxi...


5. THE BEST CROWD AROUND 🎉

The best thing about Bongo’s Bingo is that everyone can get involved. Expect people to be celebrating 21st to 50th birthdays, hen parties, or just enjoying a Saturday night. They have even had Anne Gandy celebrate her 91st birthday there! Everyone is there for a laugh and you’ll always end up leaving with a new friend after bonding over grabbing a photo with Phillip Schofield - the cardboard version of course.  


Tickets for Bongo’s Bingo are said to be more stressful to get than a Glastonbury ticket and sell out super fast so planning in advance is definitely recommended so you don't miss out on all the prizes!

Check out their website www.bongosbingo.co.uk for all the latest information, upcoming dates and official tickets. 


BLOG POST PROFILE

This blog post has been written by Sophie Shields, Digitial Marketing Assistant for Marketing Liverpool.

Sophie is from Liverpool, loves all things music, particularly the local music scene and Liverpool FC. 

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