May 24, 2024 - Things to Do

Bingo is all the rave in Philadelphia

A nightclub interior where people are playing bingo and the number "31" is flashed in giant screens.

At Hijingo, a London nightclub, bingo is the central attraction in a show aimed at young adults. Photo: Courtesy of State of Play Hospitality

Bingo is taking the urban nightlife scene by storm, vaulting from a stodgy Rotary Club favorite to the centerpiece of alcohol-and-nacho-fueled dance parties.

Why it matters: "Eatertainment" has become the hottest new restaurant trend since the pandemic.

Driving the news: Bingo-themed nightclubs, raves and pop-up parties are showing up in cities nationwide, strewing confetti on partygoers as they giddily dot their bingo boards ("B15!").

  • "BAM! Confetti... tunes... dance-offs... lip-sync battles" is part of the pitch from Bingo Loco, which is staging bingo rave parties in Philly over the next couple months.

Yes, but: Tickets are going faster than you can shout, "BINGO."

Parties feature DJs playing retro tunes and hosts who tell bawdy jokes.

  • And the bingo itself? "Win vacations, along with random prizes ranging from lawnmowers to giant teddy bears!" advertises Bingo Loco, a U.K. import.

Here's a bingo explainer for those new to it.

Where it stands: Bingo as immersive entertainment for young adults originated in the U.K. and is just starting to make inroads in America.

  • There's a permanent bingo nightclub in London called Hijingo, whose owner tells Axios he's eager to bring the concept to the States.
  • He's seeking locations where getting a gambling license won't be too much of a problem — even though gambling isn't the main attraction.

What they're saying: Bingo Loco raves that the events are a mashup of theater performance and festival "suited for somebody who's looking for a night out like no other … or even the best work party on the planet."

Zoom out: Restaurateurs say they make more money per customer if they offer darts, pickleball, golf or other activities along with burgers, beer and wings.

  • Gen Z enthusiasms like cornhole and axe-throwing are giving way to once-geriatric pastimes like bingo and shuffleboard as young people seek novelty in their partying.

Fun fact: Within the world of bingo-themed entertainment, "drag queen bingo" has become a thing.

  • Drag Queen Bingo USA will send a crew to your home to stage a vampy bingo game.

The bottom line: Many young adults haven't played bingo before, so these experiences could be their first — and seminal — encounter.

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