Rebel Bingo Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Jeffrey Zide
By Meagan Drillinger


DRILLINGER DOES is a weekly column that chronicles the exploits of urban daredevil Meagan Drillinger throughout the five boroughs. Every Monday is another adventure — from whiskey tours and no-pants subway rides to sex club date nights.

It’s not difficult to find fun on a Friday night in New York. In fact, finding a fun Friday night in NYC on a spring evening is one of the easiest goals to accomplish, which is great, seeing as we have so few fabulous Fridays throughout the year. This is why it saddens me to know that a few weeks ago I wasted a beautiful Friday night in NYC when I went so horribly, horribly wrong.

A few months back I got a mysteriously vague email alert about an event called “Rebel Bingo” that was returning to Williamsburg for a weekend engagement. I like bingo, and I like rebels, so it seemed like something I’d enjoy. I immediately bought two tickets and then decided to read up on what I had just signed myself up for.

Rebel Bingo 628x416 Drillinger Does: Rebel Bingo
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Jeffrey Zide

Rebel Bingo started as a series of parties in London in the basement of an old church hall. One night the revelers discovered a bingo kit and by chance (read: all the alcohol) invented a new form of Bingo. From that point on, it started to mutate and grow exponentially as more and more people began to attend these weekly soirees. Soon the parties got way too big for the humble church hall and had to move to other venues. Eventually Rebel Bingo spread to other cities in the UK and then finally other countries like the U.S., Spain, Portugal, and Brazil. What has emerged is a loud, emotional form of Bingo with naughty jokes, bizarre prizes, and lots and lots of fanfare. It sounded interesting, to say the least.

My tickets arrived into my inbox and immediately my excitement was dashed. The venue? Union Pool. For those of you unfamiliar with this Williamsburg watering hole, it is a haven for horny hipsters who just moved to New York. Yes, the bar has drinks that are cheaper than water, and there is a marvelous taco truck in the backyard (which are all things I enjoy), but I do not enjoy a 22-year-olds trying to woo me back to the futon of his Jefferson stop apartment that he share with seven other dudes.

Rebel Bingo Williamsburg 628x419 Drillinger Does: Rebel Bingo
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Lergik

For my +1, I asked a gentleman I’d recently met to go with me as our second date. He reluctantly agreed, having the same outlook on Union Pool as I did. The night of the event we met up for a few drinks before making our way to Union Pool. It was early in the evening, so the bar was still relatively empty (and therefore manageable). The hordes of sloppy drunk coeds had yet to tumble over themselves in an attempt to hook up in every nook and cranny.

All of a sudden the lights dimmed and the music volume went up to a raucous level, while spotlights passed over the stage. A booming voice with a British accent came over the mic with a level of enthusiasm typically reserved for wrestling matches or Jingle Ball. As the host took the stage the crowd erupted in cheers, and his lovely assistants paraded out behind him in sparkly, sequined underwear. My date, a quiet guy from Kansas who wears plaid and work boots in the un-ironic way, looked at me in the “what the hell did you bring me to?” way. I curled my upper lip, shrugged and said, nervously, “Here we go?”

Rebel Bingo Union Pool 628x471 Drillinger Does: Rebel Bingo
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Daniel Lugo

The bingo took off as we were all handed a card and the sparkly girls started yelling out numbers in bubbly, giggly British accents. But they didn’t just say the numbers; they made “cheeky” jokes as well. “Look at my t*ts, it’s number six!” They yelled. This, unfortunately, was one of their better jokes. The prizes ranged from roller skates to an iHome speaker set to a full-sized disco ball — the logistics of getting that home we have yet to figure out. If you get bingo, you can’t just yell bingo, as is customary in traditional bingo circles. No, no. You must race to the front of the stage where you hug the MC and then present your card to the sparkly twins for review. Should you not have bingo, you must stand on the stage and be shamed in front of the entire audience. Should you tie with someone, you enter a freeze-dance competition to determine who the true winner will be. I can make my peace with bad jokes and bad music, but being called on stage is legitimately my amplified nightmare. Suddenly the MC tossed a handful of glow sticks into the crowd and the audience leapt at them like children at a bar mitzvah. This night had to end. Immediately.

After about an hour our ear drums had had enough and to both of our reliefs the game took a break, at which point we decided that we both had enough roller skates and disco balls in our lives, and would much prefer something a little more…mellow. We headed to Burnside, a Minnesota bar a few blocks up. Sure, the prices are a little heftier than at Union Pool, but those few extra dollars will earn you delicious cocktails, joke/glow stick-free shuffleboard, and fewer college grads looking to get into your pants. Friday night saved.

As for Rebel Bingo? Drillinger “Did”…but wishes she hadn’t.


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