What follows is a guest post by a Bingo Newbie – one of our readers who got in touch last week, wanting to write about his first time in a bingo hall…
Hi guys. Firstly, let me say that bingo has been a completely new experience for me. I’m 35 and I’d never been inside a bingo hall in my life until last week. I was invited along by a group of friends who go semi-regularly. It was one friend’s birthday and I couldn’t really say no, ha ha!
We went to a Mecca Bingo hall (I’ve heard there’s a big rivalry between Mecca and Gala??). My first thought was: It’s huge. I hadn’t realised how big a bingo hall could be – it was split over two levels, with tables of two and four chairs grouped together on both levels. It was relatively early when we arrived and was largely empty, so we had a choice of where we wanted to sit. But it didn’t remain empty and the place got really busy as the games started.
I was somewhat confused by all the ticket books I had been given and I actually began dabbing the wrong one when we started! As a complete bingo newbie, I was at a loss trying to listen to the numbers from the caller, find the numbers on the ticket, and make sure I was keeping an eye on the lines as well. It wasn’t easy, I can tell you! In fact, I missed calling a line completely because I couldn’t keep up!
It was halfway through the night, when one of the girls who worked at the Mecca heard me moaning about not being able to keep up, and she suggested I switch to the electronic terminals instead. You just tap the screen on each number call and it does all the hard work for you – dabbing the correct number and telling you in big letters in the middle of the screen if you are 1 away and which number you need. I couldn’t believe my luck when the screen flashed I was 1 away from a full house and needed number 34, and the very next number the caller said was… 34!
I won £100 for that and was suddenly enjoying myself a lot more! I admit to feeling panicky and irritable when I was getting lost in a sea of bingo numbers, so the electronic terminal was a life-saver – I’d recommend them to any bingo newbie who isn’t sure if they can keep up.
As to the atmosphere in the club, during the games it was all hush-hush while everyone tried listening out for numbers, and between games, it was talkative and pleasant. People were definitely having fun.
The price of the tickets, when compared to my £100 winnings, was reasonable, and the price of drinks from the bar was even better (I’m surprised young twenty-somethings haven’t discovered the cheap alcohol in bingo clubs and taken over the whole club before they head out on the tiles!).
All in all, for my first time, it was a great night out. I can’t claim to be a bingo convert, but if the opportunity arose again, I certainly wouldn’t say no to going!
Thank you for letting me write this for your blog, and I hope it might encourage other bingo naysayers to give it a try sometime! It’s certainly a worthwhile experience!